South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

The Bramlett Plant is Leaking Dangerous Pollutants Into Reedy River, Immediate Cleanup Needed
Posted: November 5, 2019

Review of Contaminant Conditions at CSXT Bramlett Road Former Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) Greenville, South Carolina

Synopsis of Aquilogic Report (Download Full Report Below)

Twenty-five years ago, coal tar contamination was discovered on the site of a former Manufactured Gas Plant on Bramlett Road in the Southernside Community of Greenville. Coal tar was first encountered in a large tract of wetlands south of Bramlett Road and adjacent to the Reedy River. The coal tar was discovered because an illegal landfill had been operating in these wetlands, and inspectors were onsite to evaluate the landfill. The source of the coal tar was quickly traced to the former MGP site northeast of these wetlands, at the corner of E. Bramlett Road and W. Washington Street.

Testing for the location and extent of contamination began in 1994, and it continues today with no end in sight. Early testing immediately revealed that, based on the extent of contamination and the hydrology in the area, it was likely that contaminated groundwater was discharging into the Reedy River. Twenty-five years later, this likelihood still has not been fully explored. Over the years, Duke Energy has employed many different environmental consultants who have proposed and undertaken various testing and have prepared dozens of lengthy reports. Yet, the latest proposed testing by Duke sets the stage for years more testing, and this proposal still sidesteps the most critical locations and questions on the site.

Frustrated by the lack of progress and seeming disinterest in pursuing progress, we have commissioned our own testing at critical locations on the site and have retained expert consultants to generate an independent review of Duke’s results over 25 years and our own testing. That report is finalized, with concrete recommendations for immediate cleanup.

First, in terms of our testing, the objective was to determine whether toxins continue to discharge into the Reedy from the ditch that was used to carry coal tar laden wastewater from the facility during its operation. This ditch originated from the facility, went south under Bramlett Road and continued approximately 800 yards through the wetlands to a discharge point on the Reedy River at Willard Road. This discharge point is at the very southern end of the affected property, much further south than what Duke has portrayed as the limit of contamination. Today, the final piece of this discharge ditch runs under the Swamp Rabbit Trail, adjacent to the boundary of what will become Unity Park.

“Since I’ve been here I’ve had an unusual number of deaths,” said Pastor Stacey Mills of the Mountain View Baptist Church. “The prevalence of cancers or other chronic issues cause me to wonder what the source of that was and why such a concentration in this particular area.”

The results of our testing clearly demonstrate that the ditch continues to release dangerous pollutants into the Reedy River. Five samples have been collected from the discharge ditch near the point where it enters the River. The total carcinogenic polyaromatic hydrocarbons (carcinogenic PAHs ) in those samples ranged from 6,600 to 22,800 ug/kg, with an average around 16,500 ug/kg. The standard for cleanup that Duke has previously used on this site is 319 ug/kg. Testing in the Reedy River around the discharge point confirms that these toxins are entering the River. Just upstream of the discharge point, all samples have come back negative for carcinogenic PAHs. Just downstream of the discharge point, carcinogenic PAHs registered at 2,412 ug/kg.

The team at Aquilogic, Inc. has extensive experience evaluating contamination specifically at former MGP sites. Based on their review of all available data on this site, Aquilogic has concluded that a significant cleanup should proceed immediately. In particular, Aquilogic recommends immediate removal of the old landfill and excavation of the ponds and various other deposits of coal tar on which it sits. In addition, excavation should occur along the length of the discharge ditch, including all contaminated soil in and around this historic conduit for coal tar. After these excavations, a pump-and-treat system should be installed in order to purify the remaining contaminated groundwater plume in the wetlands. Finally, Aquilogic has specific recommendations for testing that should take place immediately in order to finally answer the question of whether the contaminated groundwater plume from the facility itself has reached the River.

SCELP remains committed to facilitating a comprehensive cleanup of the Bramlett site for the benefit of the entire Southernside community.

Want to stand up for environmental justice and the Reedy River? Tell Duke to remove its coal sludge now!
Sign the Petition!

Read related news about our long-standing work on the Bramlett site:
• Furman Students Call On Greenville Mayor To Clean Coal Tar Pit, April 2019
• Slow But Steady Progress On The Reedy River, July 2018
• Engaging The Reedy's Forgotten Contamination Corridor, July 2017

Download available Full Aquilogic Report

Entrance to Bramlett site