DHEC to Commission Environmental Study, Determine the Future of Pinewood Hazardous Waste Site Director Templeton Educates Legislators, Conservationists, and Local Leaders on the need to restore the Pinewood Trust Fund
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- While the current monitoring wells and systems at the Pinewood Hazardous Waste facility show Lake Marion and groundwater are safe, the Director of South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is working to ensure that safety for the long term.
In 2003, Kestrel Horizons, LLC ("Kestrel") of Greenville, South Carolina was appointed the trustee of the Pinewood Trust through a bankruptcy settlement. As the trustee, Kestrel manages the Pinewood Site to protect the environment and to ensure the responsible use of the Trust funds.
Upon reviewing the upcoming 2014 budget provided by Kestrel for the Pinewood Site, DHEC Director Catherine Templeton had extensive conversations with Kestrel and visited the Pinewood Site. Given the scope of work anticipated by Kestrel in the 2014 budget, the dwindling resources available in the trust funds established to support the site, and the complexity of the Pinewood Site - Director Templeton is asking policy makers to give their immediate attention to the long-term financial stability of the site.
"After intensive review, we believe that the trusts are insufficiently funded and must be restored to ensure long term viability and the safety of the Pinewood site," said Templeton.
Director Templeton has met with legislative and local leaders, conservationists, and stakeholders to voice her concerns that the trusts are seriously depleted. Director Templeton is also taking action to comprehensively determine the future needs at the site.
In response to the funding concerns, DHEC has requested bids from leading environmental experts throughout the nation to complete a comprehensive and complete environmental assessment of the Pinewood site. The most qualified company will be hired to thoroughly establish the true needs and costs for guaranteed safety and maintenance of the site over the long term. As soon as the assessment is complete, it will be shared with the public.
In response to this call for action, Representative Murrell Smith (Sumter) has announced he will introduce a budget request this legislative session that would dedicate money each year to the continued safe operation of the site.
Senator Thomas McElveen (Sumter) supported the DHEC action, "Director Templeton has identified a need that affects millions of South Carolinians. The safety of drinking water from Lake Marion is fundamentally critical to over a third of our state. I am encouraged to see the Director commit to prioritizing the long term viability, continued safety, and reliability of the Pinewood Trust."
"I am encouraged by the support and commitment I saw first hand through recent meetings with stakeholders and legislators. We are dedicated to working together to guarantee that the safety of the citizens affected by the Pinewood Hazardous Waste site continues into perpetuity," said Templeton.
DHEC and Kestrel will work together to ensure the continued protection of the environment, and that the remaining money in the funds is spent wisely. DHEC will also seek further guidance from local stakeholders and the General Assembly regarding future funding options.