The South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

Current SCELP Cases

International Drive

On behalf of the Coastal Conservation League and the SC Wildlife Federation, SCELP has asked the DHEC Board to incorporate the recommendations of the US Fish and Wildlife Service into the DHEC authorization for paving International Drive in Horry County. These recommendations include reducing the road from 4 lanes to 2 lanes, installing 3 black bear passageways and fencing to guide bears to the passageways.

International Drive runs through the Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve ("LOBHP") and one of the State's few healthy black bear populations. DNR’s LOBHP property extends to the centerline of International Drive. International Drive runs directly though and bisects an important corridor of black bear habitat in Horry County. Due to DNR’s ownership to the centerline of International Drive, DNR and Horry County entered a contract to convey a right-of-way for the proposed road in 2010. In that agreement Horry County acknowledges that “improving the Road will create a dangerous threat of harm to animals traversing the area, as well as a threat of harm to the traveling public due to collisions with animals. . . . [Horry County is] especially concerned over the likelihood of collisions between motorists and black bears (Ursus americanus).”

As a result of these threats and concerns, Horry County agreed to construct three passageways for animals to pass under International Drive as part of its obligation under the contract, as well as fencing to prevent bears from entering the roadway in certain sections. Unfortunately for the bears and the motorists that will hit them once the 60mph, 4-lane road is paved, these requirements were deleted at Horry County’s request through a Memorandum of Agreement executed in 2013 in exchange for Horry County’s payment to DNR in the amount of $122,210.00.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) noted that the project “will impact fish and wildlife habitat, wetland functions, and water quality through increased disturbance, habitat fragmentation, increased wildlife mortality, . . . and loss of migration pathways.” In order to avoid and minimize these impacts, the USFWS recommended that Horry County: “Abandon plans to increase the size of the road from 2 lanes to 4 lanes; Use the current road footprint to the maximum extent feasible; . . . It is essential that crossings for bears and other types of wildlife be implemented into the project to reduce habitat fragmentation and provide migration corridors."

The League and SCWF are asking the DHEC Board to follow these recommendations from the federal resource agency and protect the LOBHP population of black bears and red-cockaded woodpeckers.

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Oakridge Landfill

OCRM has issued a water quality certification and coastal zone consistency certification to Waste Management to perform work associated with the massive expansion of Oakridge Landfill located in Dorchester County. Particularly, Waste Management plans to fill over 14 acres of freshwater wetlands for expansion of the class 3 landfill.

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Pawleys Island Church

This case involves a previous Consent Order of Dismissal in which SCELP represented individuals seeking to prevent filling of wetlands associated with construction activities. As a result of a negotiated settlement agreement, the Church agreed to leave half of the onsite wetlands in a preserved state. However, in 2014 the Church received authorizations to proceed with additional construction activities that would eliminate all of the remaining onsite wetlands. We have challenged those authorizations because they are inconsistent with and in violation of the Consent Order.

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Papas Island

This case involves a dock permit that is unusual and particularly egregious due to its location. In particular, DHEC has granted developers a permit to construct a dock from Pappys Island, a previously undeveloped 104-acre marsh island that is surrounded by the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. The developers have also obtained a septic permit for the Island, and they seem to be intent on introducing unprecedented development into one of the most important undeveloped swaths of land in the State.

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Surface Water Withdrawal Act

SCELP served a case on September 9, 2014, that requests that DHEC overturn the parts of the Surface Water Withdrawal Act that allow industrial farms to withdraw large amounts of water entirely unfettered by a regulating permitting process. This means that while other landowners are losing their long standing water rights, industrial agriculture operations are being granted far superior rights with fewer restrictions, despite their use of extreme amounts of water.

DHEC filed a motion to dismiss and we filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in November, 2014.

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Pawleys Island Groin

We are challenging a permit issued to Georgetown County for construction of a groin on the south end of Pawleys Island. Groins are an outdated tool for addressing coastal erosion and are universally disfavored in the scientific community because of their known negative impacts on downdrift beaches. We are representing the Sierra Club, the League of Women Voters of Georgetown County, and the Coastal Conservation League in challenging this permit.

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New Cruise Ship Terminal

The S.C. State Ports Authority is seeking to construct a new, expanded cruise ship terminal at Union Pier in the heart of the historic district of downtown Charleston. On behalf of a coalition of community groups, SCELP filed a challenge to the state permit that authorizes construction of the new terminal in the Administrative Law Court and the case was assigned to Chief Administrative Law Judge Tripp Anderson.

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Marlboro County Landfill

MRR Sandhills, LLC, proposes to build a municipal solid waste landfill on the North Carolina border in Marlboro County. DHEC has issued two preliminary approvals: (1) demonstration of need; and (2) consistency with the county solid waste plan.

Marlboro County has appealed both of these approvals and they are pending in the Administrative Law Court. We filed a motion to intervene on behalf of Citizens for Marlboro County. Marlboro County ships its garbage to the Lee County Landfill and argues that there is no need for this landfill, and we are supporting the County’s argument.

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Arcadia Lakes

Roper Pond, LLC, owns a 15-acre tract on Trenholm Road in Richland County, bordering on the Town of Arcadia Lakes. Roper Pond proposes a high density apartment complex on the tract. The tract includes a nice shallow pond full of lily pads that is part of the Gills Creek watershed and runs through Arcadia Lakes. The development would excavate the pond to convert it to a stormwater detention pond. DHEC issued a stormwater permit to the developer and we appealed.

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EAGLE Landfill

MRR Highway 92, LLC was granted a permit to construct a construction and demolition debris (C & D) landfill in Laurens County. We appealed the permit for a citizens group known as EAGLE.

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Deerfield - Storm Water & Wetlands

Deertrack Golf, Inc., owns a golf course in a mature Surfside Beach development known as Deerfield Plantation. Deertrack has entered into a contract to sell the golf course property to Bill Clark Homes. Bill Clark proposes to develop 287 lots on half of the golf course property (the other half will be developed later). The POA's members are homeowners in a single-family home development that is surrounded by the golf course property. Most of the homes border the golf course. There is a long history of problems with flooding, and it appears that both the golf course and the residential development were built on former wetlands. DHEC/OCRM issued a storm water permit and coastal zone consistency certification for the development project. We have appealed for the POA.

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Kiawah Island Revetment

Kiawah Development Partners (KDP) applied for a permit for a 2,750-foot revetment on the Kiawah River at the south end of Kiawah Island. The purpose of the revetment would be to stop erosion and to stabilize the shoreline so that KDP can build a road to develop the narrow spit of land known as Captain Sam’s Spit.

OCRM denied most of the request, allowing only a 270-foot revetment along the edge of the parking lot at Beachwalker Park, the only public access on Kiawah. KDP appealed, and we appealed the 270' permit.

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Chem Nuclear Landfill

This is the on-going appeal of the renewal license for the low level radioactive waste landfill near Barnwell. The Chem Nuclear landfill has a convoluted history and is a symbol of SC’s status as the nation’s dumping ground. Opened in 1971, it is one of three low-level radioactive waste landfills in the country. It was limited to regional use and slated for closure in 1992, but the closure deadline was extended twice by former Governor Carroll Campbell, and then former Governor David Beasley scrapped the planned closure and opened the facility to the entire nation.

Under a law promoted by former Governor Jim Hodges, it is now limited to waste from the Atlantic Compact states of New Jersey and Connecticut, and a limited amount from other states.

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