Waccamaw Riverkeeper says not to worry about coal ash pond breach

Waccamaw Riverkeeper says not to worry about coal ash pond breach

CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - Santee Cooper announced over the weekend that one of its coal ash ponds had been breached by the Waccamaw River after Hurricane Dorian.

The electric company said in a statement they didn’t expect any environmental impacts from the breach. The Waccamaw Riverkeeper agrees with that prediction.

Santee Cooper said the reason no impacts are expected is because the pond that was breached has no coal ash left in it.

“This pond has been deep cleaned,” Santee Cooper spokesperson Tracy Vreeland said. “We had all the ash out, and then we took out a foot of contact soil – the dirt that the ash rested on – and that has been cleaned out for some time.”

Waccamaw Riverkeeper Cara Schildtknecht said Santee Cooper’s assessment is accurate.

“The reason Santee Cooper has to clean up these coal ash ponds is because of a lawsuit we were involved in,” Schildtknecht said. “So obviously, we don’t want that pollution in the water, and if we thought it was there, we would tell you. But at this point, there is nothing to indicate that.”

Schildtknecht said if anything does happen to the river, there will just be a higher level of turbidity, which basically means it’ll look darker. But she said even that won’t have an impact on wildlife, humans or drinking water.

“We don’t expect any major pollution entering the water from those coal ash ponds,” Schildtknecht said.

Santee Cooper has two coal ash ponds, both of which have no more coal ash left in them, according to Santee Cooper.

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