ReWa identified PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in 2013, and worked diligently to remove the contaminants from our affected WRRF. Staff continue to monitor hauled waste and all systems that convey wastewater to ReWa WRRF. Our proactive approach has been the key to a successful remediation plan; safeguarding the system and protecting the public health and water quality in the Upstate will always be our top priorities.
Eliminating Contaminants from our Systems
What are PCBs?
PCBs are chemicals that were used as coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors, and other electrical equipment. They were banned from production by Congress in 1979 because of evidence that they can build up in the environment and potentially cause adverse health and environmental effects.
How did they get in our system?
PCBs were illegally introduced into the wastewater collection system from an unknown source and made their way to certain ReWa WRRF. Also, residual amounts of PCBs have been identified in materials transported to ReWa’s Mauldin Road WRRF by some septage or recyclable grease haulers. PCBs adhere to organic materials, and therefore made their way into some of our biosolids. Biosolids with PCB concentrations above the EPA limit of 50 ppm were sequestered at the WRRF and sent to a special landfill in Alabama.
What are ReWa’s permit requirements?
Our biosolids permit prohibits the processing, land application and disposal of biosolids with PCB levels greater than 50 ppm. ReWa is required to perform annual sampling for PCBs and other constituents in its WRRF influent, as well as in its biosolids product. ReWa currently goes beyond this requirement and samples every batch of biosolids to ensure a PCB-free product. Prior to 2013, ReWa had not detected PCBs greater than 50 ppm at any WRRF.
Which ReWa WRRF were impacted and to what extent?
All facilities have been tested for the presence of PCBs. Only the Mauldin Road, Lower Reedy and Pelham WRRFs have ever tested positive for this constituent.All WRRF except for Pelham are currently negative for PCBs.
What action is ReWa taking?
In alignment with ReWa’s Mission Statement to protect the public health and water quality of the Upstate, we have contained the PCB-contaminated by-products that entered our WRRF and have worked closely with SCDHEC and EPA and determined the appropriate disposal method and remediation plan. PCB-contaminated material in excess of the allowable EPA limit of 50 ppm was processed by a hazardous materials contractor and transported to a special landfill in Alabama in accordance with with EPA and SCDHEC requirements. Low level PCB material (below the EPA threshold of 50 ppm) was processed by ReWa staff and transported to local landfills, even though EPA and SCDHEC allow this material to be applied to permitted agricultural land. ReWa has increased monitoring at potential dumping sites, increased sampling of material discharged to all ReWa WRRF, and instituted batch sampling of the biosolids product at all WRRF.
Are there any impacts on the environment or public?
Testing indicates that there is no adverse impact on our customers or downstream users. This testing continues on our biosolids, effluent discharges at ReWa WRRF and potential dumping sites.
What can the public do to help?
If you have any knowledge or suspect anyone of illegally disposing of hazardous materials, such as PCBs, oil, grease or other material near a manhole, septage receiving facility or other location that has the potential of delivering wastewater to a treatment facility, please contact Crime Stoppers at 1-864-23-CRIME.