By Betsy Finklea
DHEC held a community meeting recently on the gas clean-up at the Highway 301 North Bridge.
Buck Graham of DHEC said they had been going to the area since Thanksgiving 2006 after DHEC got complaints about the gas odor. He said when DHEC arrived the day before Thanksgiving there was a really heavy smell of gasoline in the air.
DHEC officials went back on Thanksgiving Day and collected gasoline. At that point, they didn’t know where the gasoline was coming from. DHEC officials made a call and activated a state contractor.
Mediation steps were taken. A containment boom was erected and an absorbent boom was also put in. Absorbent pads wee used to try to absorb as much gas as possible. Graham said they trying to mitigate it from going in the river. Eventually, the leak was tied back to an underground line at Butch’s Food Mart.
In April 2009, the first clean-up system was put into place.
Approximately 1,000 gallons of gas has been collected. Gas is still collected daily. There is no way to estimate what has gone in the air.
There was a containment problem underneath the bridge. Absorbent booms were buried under the bridge. This worked fairly well. Some air monitoring was also done in the area.
DHEC officials continue to go and check the area. There is a little bit of sheen but not the thick product levels that there had been previously.
What is still in the soil will take time for Mother Nature to clean-up.
DHEC officials suggest that the public limit their activities around and immediately under the bridge.
Do not stay under the bridge very long, and do not light fires or smoke under and around the bridge. Do not step in puddles with gasoline. Do not dig under or around the bridge, and do not wade or swim behind the boom.
It is okay to fish in the river and to eat fish caught in the river per DHEC fish consumption advisories. More information about the fish consumption advisories can be found at www.scdhec.gov/fish.
It is okay to use the boat ramp and park your vehicle as needed, and it is okay to walk over or under the bridge.
Officials said they will continue to periodically take measures to remove gasoline.
They estimate a DHEC presence monitoring the site for about two more years.
Any additional questions should be directed to Buck Graham (grahambw@ dhec.sc.gov) or Keith Lane (email@example.com) at the Florence office at 661-4825.
By Betsy Finklea