DHEC investigates black sticky substance in Congaree

Swimmers say the substance is very hard to remove from skin.

Swimmers have been finding themselves in a sticky situation after taking a dip in the Congaree River.

I tried scrubbing it off with soap and water, but it wouldn't come off, said Jessica Lundberg of Gaston.

A regular visitor to the Congaree shoreline, Lundberg discovered something unusual Monday in the water.

It was oily on top of the water and I was wondering why. I just kept swimming away from it, said Lundberg.

But she's not the only one with concerns.

I put my hand down and thought maybe it was slippery rock, but it was not, and when I lifted my hand it had black tar and asphalt on it, said William Payton of Columbia.

Payton believes what he found lingering on the bottom of the Congaree river are road construction materials that may have washed downstream from the resurfacing project taking place on Meeting Street in West Columbia.

Work began on the roadway just a week before Payton and others found themselves paddling in the black sticky substance.

Jay Thompson with the South Carolina Department of Transportation says it TMs highly unlikely that the materials came from Meeting Street.

As part of the resurfacing job, tack is put down, says Thompson. However, the tack on this job was not left uncovered during anytime of rain. It was put down and paved over the same night.

Thompson points out that an inspector is on-site during all operations to control erosion and prevent storm water pollution.

According to a spokesman for the Department of Health and Environmental Control, an investigation is underway and a sample of the material was collected to determine what the material is and where it came from.

For now, Payton will be watching where he steps, and Lundberg will keep a close eye on what flows downstream.