State officials have options in dealing with coal sludge in rive - - Columbia, South Carolina |

State officials have options in dealing with coal sludge in river

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State health officials have several possible solutions on how to clean up a black tar-like substance found along the Congaree River.

DHEC hosted a community meeting Thursday night with neighbors who live within a half-mile of the Gervais and Blossom Street bridges.

In 2010, DHC began receiving complaints about the substance along the river. Asphalt from bridge resurfacing was thought to be the problem. But DHEC determined an old coal processing plant from the early 1900's was the likely source.

SCE&G has ownership of the plant, and agreed to help with the cleanup.

"It's going to take some time," said Jim Beasley with DHEC. "It probably could take several months if not a couple of years. But nonetheless it is a process that will take a couple of years that will more than likely begin next summer, and it will continue until the river bed is cleaned."

Four different cleanup proposals are on the table.  DHEC plans to address written questions and comments at a meeting on April 22nd. A final option will be selected after all public comments are considered.

DHEC says the water in the Congaree River is still safe for recreational use.

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