SCE&G is three-fourths of the way through cleaning up 2.4 million tons of coal ash from the utility’s unlined storage pit on the Wateree River near Eastover, an environmental group that sued over the removal said Tuesday.
The clean up also cut by 90 percent the level of arsenic in groundwater on the plant site south of Columbia, the Southern Environmental Law Center said.
The clean up is expected to be completed in 2020, the law center’s attorney, Frank Holleman, said.
“The progress at Wateree demonstrates that utilities can store their coal ash responsibly and protect our rivers and water resources,” Holleman said.
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Coal ash is being moved to a lined landfill and contaminated soil removed, a center spokeswoman said. The old pit has been for decades the storage site for South Carolina Electric & Gas Co.’s coal-fired plant near the river.
“This is a good, common-sense solution that is cleaning up contaminated water and removing failure risk,” said Sam Perkins, the Catawba Riverkeeper. The Catawba becomes the Wateree south of Lake Wateree.
The cleanup is part of an August 2012 agreement among SCE&G, the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation and the law center. That agreement followed a January 2012 lawsuit by the center on behalf of the riverkeeper organization to force SCE&G to clean up the pit and stop groundwater contamination.
The coal ash pit had been a public dispute for years, the center said in a news release.