GEORGETOWN, SC (WMBF) - The U.S. Coast Guard is monitoring the cleanup of an oil spill on the Sampit River in Georgetown, S.C., Thursday.
ArcelorMittal Steel Mill has taken responsibility for the spill, which began Wednesday, according to a news release from the Coast Guard. The mill contacted the oil spill response organization HEPACO Wednesday evening to begin the containment and recovery of the oil.
On Wednesday evening, pollution responders from the Coast Guard found a portion of the containment boom was caught on a piling, creating a gap in the containment system and allowing spilled oil to escape into the Sampit river, the Coast Guard release states.
"Essentially what happened is oil leaked in to their water cooling system. They have a dirty water system that goes through a treatment process before it leaves the plant. They have a clean water system that goes directly from the plant and leaves the plant," explained Brian LeFebvre, the Chief of Response for the Coast Guard in the Charleston sector.
LeFebvre explained it seems the dirty water containing an oil mixture got into the clean system which is how it exited the mill.
"It seems to be a type of lubricating oil, not a heavy crude oil," LeFebvre said.
The Coast Guard believes that most of the oil will break down in the sun by the end of the day. The mill itself remains idle while crews work to fix the problem and clean up the spill.
ArcelorMittal is currently working to pinpoint the source of the oil and identify how much was released. A new 50-foot section of containment boom has been placed at the containment gap, and 100 feet of new absorbent material and hard boom has been placed at the drain pipe where oil exited the facility, the Coast Guard stated.
As of 11 a.m. Thursday, more than 500 gallons of oil-water mixture has been recovered, according to Coast Guard officials. HEPACO is continuing to recover oil, and there have been no reports of injured wildlife.