Cayce gets $1M to expand plant; Pelion facility unsure of future - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Cayce gets $1M grant to expand plant; Pelion facility unsure of its future

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More news continues to come out of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control as the department is offering a $1 million grant to the city of Cayce to expand its wastewater treatment plant.

Cayce City Administrator Rebecca Rhodes said the city was approached by DHEC earlier this year to expand its plant to include sewage and restaurant grease processing. On Wednesday, DHEC announced it is considering denying the permit renewal request from C.E. Taylor in Pelion, which is a sewage dump facility that has been operating on Edmund Highway since 1989 by processing sewage and restaurant grease. Its permit expired in September 2009, and now DHEC's decision on whether to grant their renewal request is based on data collected that shows elevated levels of nitrate in underground water.

With Cayce's wastewater treatment plant expansion, the city will offer a sewage and restaurant grease processing center for Lexington County. The city, which will officially open its new wastewater treatment plant Monday, plans to finish that addition by 2014.

Rhodes said with DHEC's agreement to pay for the addition's construction, the city decided to move forward since it was not going to be a cost to city taxpayers.

"If you set your fees right, you can cover the costs," Rhodes said, adding there is a small chance the city will make a profit. "There is a need."

Cayce City Council approved to move forward with the wastewater treatment plant expansion.

While the expansion is meant to serve Lexington County residents, it definitely has one Pelion homeowner excited that her struggle might be coming to an end.

"We are very thankful that DHEC is proposing that the (C.E. Taylor) permit be denied," said Sandra Walker, a Pelion resident who has been working for more than five years to get DHEC to end C.E. Taylor's sewage dump processing. "The chance that Cayce will one day take this over is a good idea."

At least four residential wells in Pelion showed high nitrate levels, which can create human illnesses, especially in infants who drink the contaminated water. While there is currently no proof C.E. Taylor has caused the underground water to be contaminated, many activists think its operation is the culprit.

DHEC plans to gather more groundwater data at the Pelion site and obtain an outside expert to collect his or her own information to ensure accuracy in testing. A public hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Nov. 8 at Pelion High School to discuss the permit.

Despite the controversy between C.E. Taylor and select Pelion residents, DHEC spokesman Mark Plowden said the agency's decision to offer Cayce a grant to expand its operation has no connection to the possibility of denying C.E. Taylor's permit request.

"Few entities can handle septics and grease," Plowden said, adding the only connection is the facilities will process the same types of wastes. "(The city of Cayce was) an obvious choice for this type of grant." 

DHEC received federal money to enhance waste capacity, which is how they are able to provide funding to Cayce for the expansion.

C.E. Taylor owner Frank Taylor refused to comment Friday.

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