Demolition to begin Mon.for "nuclear laundry" in Columbia neighborhood - - Columbia, South Carolina

Demolition to begin Mon.for "nuclear laundry" in Columbia neighborhood

(Columbia) Nov. 8, 2004 - A controversial commercial laundry facility in a residential Columbia community will be torn down beginning on Monday.

The official announcement came at around noon on Thursday concerning the Unitech facility on Edisto Avenue near the intersection with Wiley Street in the Rosewood community.

Bessie Watson thought this day would never come, "We've been fighting to get rid of this at least 15 years." It's been a long fight to ensure the safety of her Rosewood neighborhood, "We've had radioactive materials right in a neighborhood. Right in the middle of a neighborhood. This has not been a good atmosphere for people to live in."

The laundry cleaned radiated clothes from the Savannah River Site and neighbors like Isaac McClinton worried it made them sick, "I still believe that it was leaking. I couldn't prove it, but I had that idea."

In the late 90's, DHEC and the city ran tests that showed the public was not in danger. Neighbors still pressured lawmakers like Councilwoman Anne Sinclair until the business moved two-years-ago, "This is the kind of use that's not compatible with a residential area."

Sinclair announced the community's fight is finally over. Crews will start tearing down the building on Monday. DHEC will oversee the work, testing regularly to make sure the area is safe and Watson is pleased with the results, "I feel like DHEC has done their job determining if the soil is clear and the facility is clear and we can only rely on them."

Columbia plans to revitalize the area. City leaders are looking at three plans: mixed use, residential or a community park.

By Catherine Reynolds
Updated 6:17pm by BrettWitt

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