JASPER COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - As contracted firefighters continue to fight the burning recycling plant in Jasper County, steps were taken Friday to reduce runoff water leaving the site and impacting water quality.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the South Carolina Department of Environmental Control is running the operation.
“I hate to say some of this stuff is poison, but it is, and it shouldn’t be in your water, and that’s why you should be concerned."
Firefighters are using countless gallons of water a day in an attempt to put out an underlying fire in a massive pile of recycled trash, but unlike traditional landfills, there’s nothing at the bottom of this mound catching the water, so where does it all go?
“All of that water is dispersing now. It’s going into ditches. It’s going into retention ponds we do believe. and eventually, making it’s way to waterways,” said Dave Mewborn, with Savannah Riverkeeper.
Mewborn says along with other team members, they are extremely worried about what could be getting into the Okatie water source. Right now, they are waiting to find out what this week’s water samples say. There tests are looking for many foreign chemicals like cyanide and arsenic.
“It seems like the EPA, the fire department and DHEC have controlled the fire, but are using, as far as I know, hundreds of thousands of gallons to keep the temperature down and keep the fire controlled," Mewborn said.
According to DHEC, the contractor is trying to recycle the water that’s placed on the pile, but they can’t catch it all. Friday, crews installed a device near a drainage ditch to treat and remove contaminants from the water. Firefighters also got new equipment to target the fire more specifically to try to limit excessive water use.
Savannah Riverkeeper is expecting the water results next week.
An Able Contracting information hotline has been setup to provide daily forecast information. It also allows community members to leave messages if they have any questions. You can call it at 803.898.4262 or 800.204.1842.
Officials are looking into the water, but air sample reports have been OK recently.
Beaufort County School District officials tell WTOC if air samples continue to come back not alarming, Okatie Elementary will switch to outside recess starting Monday.
Parents will have the option keep their kids inside for recess if they don’t feel comfortable.