Trump’s property in North Charleston: Contamination, clean-up and ethics
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A partially fenced-in site off Azalea Drive near Leeds Avenue in North Charleston appears abandoned and would likely never catch your attention.
The American flag posted at the back of the property is perhaps a coincidental symbol that our country's future President owns the property at 4280 Pace Street.
A recent national story accused President Elect Donald Trump of applying to use state tax dollars to clean up the site, after he bought the property from a company his son was involved with.
That story implied Donald Trump, Jr. may be responsible for the contamination, but state officials say they do not believe that is accurate.
In 2010, Donald Trump Jr. was involved in a business called Titan Atlas Manufacturing, which bought the 6.42 acre site for manufacturing.
Within a few years, it was facing foreclosure. Charleston County Court records show Titan Atlas also had a list of lawsuits and state and federal tax liens against it.
Then, a company called DB Pace Acquisitions LLC stepped in and bought the property for $3.2 million at a foreclosure auction.
It turns out Donald Trump Sr. owns DB Pace, as he disclosed on Financial reports with the US Office of Government Ethics in 2015.
Around the same time, a company named Saint-Gobains Adorfs, a chopped fiber glass manufacturer, says they were renting space in the warehouse at 4280 Pace Street to store products.
In a lawsuit filed in April 2016, Adorfs says the Trumps, Titan Atlas, and DB Pace ignored its complaints about the roof leaking for more than a year.
During the historic 2015 rains and flooding in Charleston, Adorfs says it lost $4.5 million worth of products, allegedly ruined because of the roof leaks.
DB Pace denied the allegations in a filed response to the lawsuit, but neither side responded to Live 5's request for a current update.
Regardless, no one appears to be using the Pace Street property right now.
South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control says it has "known environmental contamination" from Lockheed Martin manufacturing activities on-site decades ago.
DHEC says Lockheed Martin was making aircraft parts there which resulted in hazardous wastes and "hydroxide sludges."
A DHEC spokesperson pointed out, "We have no information that Titan Atlas, DB Pace Acquisitions or any owners other than Lockheed have contributed to any additional contamination of this property."
Lockheed Martin has been paying to monitor and cleanup the site, and remediate the groundwater, since 1993.
But now- Donald Trump's DB Pace LLC has applied for the state's Brownsfields Voluntary Cleanup Program.
If approved, the applying company could receive State Superfund liability protection. It seems they may also qualify for tax breaks and loans.
A March 10, 2016 voluntary cleanup contract is signed by DB Pace, but not by the state.
Part of the contract on page five says members of DB Pace aren't connected to previous owners. That raises questions, as Trump's own son was involved with a previous owner, Titan Atlas.
DHEC told us repeatedly they haven't signed the contract yet, and said "DHEC has not agreed to execute this voluntary cleanup contract with DB Pace Acquisitions. Currently, the agency is reviewing all relevant information and pertinent facts."
DHEC also said there is an "amended contract" which was submitted January 9, 2017.
We are waiting to get a copy of that amended contract and determine what was amended.
State Senator Marlon Kimpson (D-Charleston and Dorchester Counties) still has concerns and points to successor liability.
"This state cannot afford to clean up an environmental toxic site in the heart of North Charleston when there are companies and individuals who own those companies, including from what I've read the Trump family, who have the resources to do so," said Kimpson.
The situation also raises ethical questions about state employees making legal decisions that could impact the future President's wallet.
"It should be concerning for all Americans," Kimpson added.
We also reached out to President Elect Trump's press group, the Governor and Lt. Governor, the North Charleston Mayor, and state and federal representatives of North Charleston.
No one other than Senator Kimpson has responded yet.
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