Lead, Arsenic Found in Beaufort River - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

02/06/04

Lead, Arsenic Found in Beaufort River

High levels of arsenic and lead have been found near the Beaufort River in Port Royal. The lead coordinator with the Environmental Protection Agency tells us there's no immediate danger for people in this community, but it has many people concerned.

High levels of contamination have been found in samples of soil found along the bank. The EPA took samples from an area near the McTeer Bridge last October. It's a spot they believe used to be the site of an old phosphate plant, which stopped operating nearly a century ago. The arsenic and lead are byproducts of turning phosphate into fertilizer.

Although EPA officials say the community is not in any immediate danger, Mayor Samuel Murray is concerned. "One of the things I'm concerned about is, many years ago, all people in this area depended on well water to drink," he said.

Murray says he's concerned for many people that could have been effected over the years. And although the EPA says the toxins didn't make their way into the Beaufort River, many say it's just too close to home, especially since many people have eaten out of that same river for years. "Finding lead and arsenic near any of our rivers really concerns me because I love to fish," said resident Jim Willingham.

Officials say they are planning to conduct more sample testing in this area next month, something community leaders are happy to hear. "I'd just like them to do more sampling and testing to make sure we are safe and if there's a real problem, then what's the next step?" said Mayor Murray.

There will be two open forums here in Beaufort on Monday and Tuesday of next week. Here are the details:

EPA Community Forum

Date: Monday, February 9 and Tuesday, February 10

Time: 4pm-7pm

Where: Technical College of the Lowcountry, Building 12 (Auditorium), Beaufort, SC

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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