South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

Lab Test Indicates Jellyfish Plant Discharge is Harmful, Company Disagrees
September 7th, 2014

A company trying to process jellyfish in Beaufort County and ship them to Asia as food is met with protest from neighbors, fishermen, and boaters, because they fear the company's wastewater would harm the environment. The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has released the results of a toxicity test performed on the company's temporary operation of rinsing jellyfish in Jenkins Creek. The results show the discharge harmed its test subjects, but the company Carolina Jelly Balls believes the results found in the lab do not apply to the creek.

BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. - A company trying to process jellyfish in Beaufort County and ship them to Asia as food is met with protest from neighbors, fishermen, and boaters, because they fear the company's wastewater would harm the environment. The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has released the results of a toxicity test performed on the company's temporary operation of rinsing jellyfish in Jenkins Creek. The results show the discharge harmed its test subjects, but the company Carolina Jelly Balls believes the results found in the lab do not apply to the creek.

It's the future of the pristine waters of Jenkins Creek in Beaufort County, and where a new jellyfish company comes into play, that has some neighbors concerned. They worry toxic discharge from rinsing cannonball jellyfish would harm the creek and kill its inhabitants. Guy Apicella is part of a group of Dataw Island residents who oppose the Carolina Jelly Balls operation.

"It's large volumes of fish coming in. Large percentages of that catch are waste. It's got a certain type of waste that's slime, that doesn't get diluted well, that has toxic properties," Apicella says.

Carolina Jelly balls wants to unload and rinse the jellyfish at Golden Dock in St. Helena Island. DHEC stopped them from unloading and rinsing in April, and conducted a toxicity test.

"These cannonball jellyfish have a slime layer to them. It's like a mucus," Apicella says. He has been studying the test results. Samples were taken from vats the jellyfish sat in, and then tested on shrimp in a lab.

"The results of the April testing showed those organisms dying at the end of 24 hours in the chronic tests," Apicella says. Other, more diluted samples harmed the shrimp, too.

"Survival was affected down to 10 and 20 percent dilution, and growth was affected, and also reproduction," Apicella says.

However, the company's environmental consultant Bob Gross says the tests show no adverse effect on Jenkins Creek, because the tests were done in the lab. Apicella says 'not so.'

"It's an indication that other organisms you find in Jenkins Creek would also be affected," he says.

He still hopes the operation can be stopped from discharging the wastewater into the creek, "unless it can be proven that there would be no effect."

Apicella and groups against the jellyfish plant are looking to Beaufort County to change an ordinance, and impose more review before allowing the company to do business. The planning commission will hold a public meeting on October 6 to discussion any ordinance change.

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