Beaufort Co. fiscally responsible for marine debris cleanup efforts

Beaufort Co. fiscally responsible for marine debris cleanup efforts

BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) - In the Lowcountry, washed up docks, logs and boats at Palmetto Bay Marina make it look like Hurricane Matthew just swept through.

It's because Beaufort County has been going back-and-forth with several state agencies to determine who is in charge of paying for it. According to the Attorney General's Office, it's the county's responsibility. Officials are now scrambling to get the marshlands cleaned up before the FEMA deadline.

Right now, the county has put the cleanup project out for bid and as part of the contract, they will get a survey of the area to understand the scope of the damage still left. The county was legally responsible for cleanup on county roads and public right of ways and then asked for an opinion placing them legally responsible for the cleanup of private roads. So now officials needed that same confirmation before they could tackle the waterways.

"Beaufort County asked the Attorney General for an opinion because we want it to be able to take that opinion and send it to FEMA and say we do have the legal responsibility. We're not a volunteer in the sense that we're doing somebody else's work and you don't have to reimburse us for it. We have the legal responsibility to do it so we can check that box with you and you can reimburse us with federal dollars," said Beaufort County Attorney Tom Keaveny.

Since a comprehensive survey of the waterways has not been completed just yet, officials don't have an exact dollar amount for this project. However, they estimate it will cost between $5 and $10 million.

In order to receive FEMA reimbursement, it will have to be cleaned up by April 3. Right now, the county is working on an extension.

WTOC has learned that six of the washed up boats have been removed from Palmetto Bay. Tired of waiting around, residents pitched in time and money to bring in cranes for cleanup.

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