DRN violated Clean Water Act while building Horry County road

Columbia, SC - COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) - South Carolina's Department of Natural Resources says it violated federal law while building a road in Horry County.

The agency said Tuesday that workers were not authorized to fill in six acres of wetlands on DNR property at the Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve. Agency director John Frampton says staff thought they were following provisions of the Clean Water Act but were wrong.

"DNR personnel performed work that exceeded what is allowed under the silvaculture exemption provided in the Clean Water Act," Frampton said in a Charleston new conference. "This additional work resulted in the unauthorized filling of six acres of wetlands. Our staff was under the assumption that they were following Best Management Practices under the silvacultural exemption of the Clean Water Act - this assumption was in error."

Frampton apologized to the people of South Carolina on the agency's behalf. He says DNR will work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on restoration efforts either at the site or another nearby property.

"DNR is determined to be forthright and not assign blame to others," a press release stated. "The agency made a mistake and does not seek to maneuver out of any shortcomings. DNR regrets any burden on the Corps of Engineers and thanks the Charleston District Regulatory Staff for bringing this matter forward."

Frampton says the agency will increase staff training and is changing its policy to prevent future violations.

Copyright 2010 WMBF News. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.