South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

Engaging the Reedy's Forgotten Contamination Corridor
Posted: July 3, 2017

One of the worst contaminated sites in Greenville County has been allowed to fester and spread for 70+ years within a vulnerable community, to the point that it is now adjacent to or contacting the Swamp Rabbit Trail, the Reedy River, schools, and a church.

With generous funding from the Jolley and Graham Foundations, not to mention many individual supporters, SCELP is taking up the role of community and environmental advocate to engage in the complex cleanup process that is finally taking place along the banks of the Reedy River.

The contamination in the project area, along with the vacant, unusable land it produces, are a significant drag on the overall well-being of surrounding Southernside, a predominantly low income, African-American community. Testing on site reveals that toxic chemicals have now migrated through wetlands and reached the Reedy. The toxic plume likely crosses the grounds of Legacy Charter Elementary, and parishioners of the nearby church have spoken of coal tar bubbling up on church property. Monitoring in the Reedy reveals this site as the source of a “spike” in River pollution, in the very shadow of downtown.

Thankfully, a cleanup contract has now been established, and the original polluters will be paying millions for the work.

The terms of the cleanup, which will be legally, environmentally, scientifically, and socially complex, will be established and overseen by DHEC, our state environmental agency, through an open process taking place over approximately two years. During DHEC's process, there are many opportunities for public input and involvement and for the cleanup plan to be shaped to benefit the community and environment. We have decades of experience executing the exact mechanisms and strategies that are effective in this process. If our project is successful, this property will ultimately be available for residential, commercial, or recreational facilities for the first time in 70 years, filling dire needs within this community.

Our goal is to ensure development and execution of a cleanup plan that adequately protects the community and environment, opens up this property to productive uses meeting the needs of local residents, and ultimately improves livability of the neighborhood. We also seek to mobilize partnership, collaboration, and initiative within the affected community, which will be necessary to facilitate our main goal. In order to accomplish these goals, SCELP will act as advocate and facilitator during the DHEC cleanup process, maintaining active involvement and input, and utilizing our legal and technical expertise, in all phases.

Download available Bramlett Site Clean Up Agreement