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News Releases

July 14, 2010

DHEC identifies tar-like substance in Congaree River

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Test results indicate the tarry substance recently discovered on the Congaree River bed in the area of Gist and Senate streets in Columbia is coal tar, a by-product in the operation of coal gasification plants, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.

All current evidence indicates the coal tar in the Congaree is from historical releases prior to the closing of downtown Columbia’s last manufactured gas facility in the 1950s. There is no evidence that a recent or ongoing release has occurred or that the ongoing cleanup of the Huger Street Site by SCE&G has contributed to the material discovered in the Congaree.

At least two historic coal gasification operations have been identified in downtown Columbia, one beneath the former Columbia Supply Company at Lincoln and Lady Streets, the other beneath the former SCE&G bus maintenance facility on Huger Street.

While it is not possible to determine the contribution from either of these facilities specifically, SCANA Corporation, the parent company of SCE&G, has stepped forward and agreed to investigate and develop a cleanup plan for the sediments in the river. DHEC will continue to monitor and oversee these cleanup efforts under an existing agreement with SCANA.

In an effort to minimize further disturbance of the material while the cleanup is underway, the public is still advised to avoid swimming or wading in that part of the river.


For media inquiries:
Adam Myrick – (803) 898-3884
E-mail –