LYMAN, SC — Amid the cleanup of PCBs at Lyman's sewage treatment facility, three more grease traps have tested positive for the toxic chemical.
Alan Johnson, public works director for the city, said tests of two grease traps in the treatment area showed the presence of polychlorinated biphenyls at above legal limits and another one showed trace amounts of the chemical. All three traps were discovered in the past few weeks.
The Upstate has been battling PCB contamination since this summer. The chemical was previously used in a variety of commercial and industrial applications and has been linked with a variety of illnesses, including cancer, and was banned from production in the U.S. in 1979.
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have launched a criminal investigation into possible illegal dumping. Several waste oil haulers were found with PCB contamination in their equipment.
Johnson said Lyman has issued a letter to grease trap owners in their service area asking them to secure their traps. The town is also asking for a 24-hour notice of any grease trap pumping so a city employee can be on site when the grease is picked up.
Securing the traps is in the owners' best interests, Johnson said, because cleaning up a PCB contaminated trap can cost $40,000 to $50,000.
While Spartanburg Sanitary Sewer and Greenville-based Renewable Water Resources, both of which have been infected recently with PCB contamination, are requiring grease traps to be tested prior to pumping, Johnson said Lyman is not considering such a measure at this time. The Lyman facility does not accept waste trucked into its treatment facility and Johnson said most haulers are requiring the traps to be tested.
Johnson also said efforts to clean up the remnants of the PCB contamination are underway. Ninety tons of sludge have been hauled already to an approved dumping site in Alabama at a cost of about $300 per ton. The water that is squeezed from the sludge is passed through a series of filters to eliminate all solids down to one micron in size. PCBs cling to solid material and this process decontaminates the water so it can be discharged.
Johnson estimated the cleanup will cost less than $1 million. A rate hike is not anticipated to offset the cost of the cleanup, Johnson said. Replacement of an old, but functional, pump station is being delayed to free up money in the budget and reserve funds are being utilized, he said.