WALTERBORO, SC (WCSC) – Over 150 Colleton County residents met at St. Anthony Catholic Church Meeting Hall Tuesday. The meeting was called by residents to learn more about coal ash and to voice their opposition to SCE&G's proposed landfill.
SCE&G purchased 1,700 acres between Sidneys and Pleasant Grove Road in order to build a coal ash landfill. The company's current coal ash landfill at its Canadys Plant in Walterboro is nearing capacity.
The proposal isn't sitting well with Colleton County resident Jim Addison.
"It's the worst place you could possibly think about for a landfill," Addison said. "They plan to put a 150-foot high mountain of toxic ash on this site – that's almost as tall as the smallest of the pyramids of Giza."
Addison says he's been hitting the books like a college student before exams, getting all the information he can about coal ash.
"Arsenic, Mercury, Lead. They're permanent," Addison said. They don't degrade. They'll be in that mountain of ash, that big toxic waste dump until they leak out somehow."
Former Mayor Charlie Sweat was at the meeting. He believes that even though a coal ash landfill has not been classified as toxic by the Environmental Protection Agency doesn't mean it isn't toxic.
Robert Yanity with SCE&G says that of the 1,700-acre purchase, only 150 to 200 acres would be used for the landfill. The rest would act as a buffer. Yanity also says the landfill will be built with the latest state of the art technologies preventing any harm to human or environmental health.
On top of that, Yanity also says the company recycles more than 60 percent of its ash. When there's a market for it, the coal ash is usually recycled into concrete for construction projects.
Regardless, Addison isn't changing his mind.
"The economic implications are devastating," Addison said. "This is already a poor county. We're already losing industry and we're not going to attract more industry except more toxic waste dumps if we allow this."