Authorities looking for illegal chemical dumpers - FOX Carolina 21

Authorities looking for illegal chemical dumpers

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GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Wastewater treatment plants specialize in dealing with the worst of the worst - chemicals, bacteria, human waste.

They serve a specific purpose, and when something strange shows up, they know about it.

"We started tracking and monitoring it, and we noticed that it was starting to elevate," said Ray Orvin, Jr. with ReWa.

Orvin said they noticed the problem earlier this year - elevated levels of polychlorinated byphenyl, or PCB.

There was a lot of it, a specific kind of it, and ReWA wasn't the only one who had PCBs show up in their system.

"It was very surprising, because we shouldn't find that anywhere in our collection system," said Alan Johnson, director of Lyman Public Works.

Greenville, Spartanburg and Lyman all had elevated levels of PCBs, and they all said it was illegally dumped between January and August of this year.

ReWA, Lyman Public Works and the Spartanburg Sanitary Sewer District said they all had a specific kind of PCB that was used as a coolant in transformers and electric motors, but its use was discontinued more than 40 years ago.

"We all feel, based on what we know, and the way that we think it got into our systems that it's probably from the same source," said Orvin.

The utilities said there is no danger to the public, since it has all been contained to the wastewater plants. They plan on properly dumping the chemicals.

PCBs are known to cause liver damage and certain cancers in adults, as well as poor brain development in children.

"Any amount of PCBs is an unacceptable amount," said Orvin.

The Environmental Protection Agency, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, Greenville County Sheriff's Office and Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office are all investigating the case.

They're advising anyone with any information on the illegal dumping to call authorities.

The utilities, however, said their work is cut out for them.

"We have about 57 to 60 miles of sewer line in Lyman," said Johnson. "We also serve Wellford, Duncan and Startex, so you can imagine how many manholes and how many opportunities there are for someone aiming to do this."

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