Wateree Coal Ash Removal Ahead of Schedule

In a report filed under a settlement with the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, South Carolina Electric &Gas has reported that it removed 280,000 tons of coal ash from its coal ash lagoons on the banks of the Catawba/Wateree River outside Columbia, South Carolina. 

The company removed the ash to a lined landfill for dry storage, away from the Catawba/Wateree River.

In addition, SCE&G converted its plant to dry handling of bottom ash, to eliminate its riskier wet storage in the lagoons.

Frank Holleman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, who represented the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation in the settlement stated:  “SCE&G is demonstrating that utilities can convert from risky and polluting storage of coal ash in unlined lagoons on the banks of rivers to safer dry storage in monitored lined landfills away from the river’s banks.  If SCE&G can take these responsible steps on the Catawba/Wateree River near Columbia, there is no reason why Santee Cooper cannot do the same thing on the Waccamaw River in Conway.”

The report was filed in accordance with a settlement of a suit filed in United States District Court by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation.  Under the settlement, SCE&G agreed to empty out its coal ash lagoons on the banks of the Wateree River, three miles upstream from the Congaree National Park.  The lagoons contained approximately 2.4 million tons of coal ash.  SCE&G’s removal is ahead of schedule.  Under the settlement, the lagoons are scheduled to be completely emptied by December 31, 2020.

The Southern Environmental Law Center has also filed legal actions on behalf of the Waccamaw Riverkeeper, the Coastal Conservation League, and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy seeking removal of Santee Cooper’s coal ash from wetlands adjacent to the Waccamaw River in Conway, South Carolina. 

Santee Cooper’s lagoons contain approximately 1.3 million tons of coal ash, about half the amount originally in the SCE&G lagoons. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is considering a closure plan by Santee Cooper that would leave the coal ash by the Waccamaw in Conway forever.  Conway City Council has unanimously opposed Santee Cooper’s plan and has called for the ash to be removed.