PCB contamination found on Upstate waste company's equipment

Spartanburg Herald JournalAugust 28, 2013 

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A cease-and-desist order has been issued to a Greer waste hauling company that was found to have equipment contaminated with PCBs, a hazardous chemical.

PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls, are the same chemicals discovered in several Upstate sewage treatment plants. Mark Plowden, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Environmental Control, said he cannot comment on whether the Greer company and the order are related to that investigation.

On Aug. 23, DHEC issued a cease-and-desist letter to American Waste Septic Tank Service of Greer and owner Timothy Howard. The letter revokes the company's license for pumping, hauling and disposing domestic wastewater, sewage and septage pending a future hearing.

According to the order, DHEC inspected American Waste Septic Tank Service on Aug. 13 and discovered PCBs on equipment on the site.

A state regulation that governs the licensing of wastewater haulers states DHEC may, at their discretion, inspect equipment used in waste hauling at the time a license or renewal is applied for. It is unclear how often these inspections occur or how frequently they lead to disciplinary actions.

Earlier this summer, PCBs were discovered in four sewer treatment plants — Fairforest and North Tyger River facilities in the Spartanburg Sanitary Sewer District, the town of Lyman's facility, and the Pelham facility in the Greenville-based district Renewable Water Resources. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has launched a criminal investigation into illegal dumping in connection with the cancer-causing chemical's presence.

Howard said he does not know how the chemicals ended up on his equipment.

"We're trying to figure out where they came from," he said Wednesday.

The order also alleges Howard and his company failed to maintain accurate records of their pumping, hauling and disposal activities.

"Proper disposal of numerous loads of septage are unaccounted for," the order states.

Howard said the dispute involving paperwork has been resolved.

Alan Johnson, public works director for Lyman, and Ray Orvin, executive director of Renewable Water Resources, said they think grease traps, one in each of their service areas, are the cause of the PCB contamination at their facilities. Sue Schneider, general manager of SSSD's governing agency, Spartanburg Water, said her district does not have such evidence.

Johnson told Lyman Town Council on Wednesday that the grease trap thought to be the source of contamination has been sealed.

Schneider, Johnson and Orvin said none of the PCB contaminated facilities received direct deposits of sewage from American Waste Septic Tank Service. Johnson and Orvin said their facilities do not accept waste from haulers.

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