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      Tar-like substance removal from Congaree River up for discussion

      COLUMBIA (WACH) -- The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control held a Congaree River Sediment Cleanup meeting Thursday.

      This public meeting comes after the discovery in June of 2010 of a tar-like substance in the Congaree River between the Gervais and Blossom Street bridges in Columbia.

      DHEC has been investigating where the material came from and how it can be removed.

      They determined the likely source of the substance was the former Huger Street Manufactured Gas Plant that was open from about 1900-1950. It created coal tar as a waste product of producing gas. SCE&G has agreed to a voluntary cleanup contract to remove the material from the river.

      DHEC spokesperson Jim Beasley said,"Through our studies we have determined that we had four possible options, the least of which was to do absolutly nothing about it. The greatest solution would be to go in and physically remove this particular material from the bed of the Congaree River. That is the recommendation that DHEC has made to South Carolina Electric and Gas is that complete removal take place."

      DHEC has selected a preferred plan that would involve damning and removing sediment from the areas affected. It's a project that would cost SCE&G an estimated $18,529,089 and about three years of disruption to part of the Congaree River.

      The public has until April 22 to submit any comments to the agency about which cleanup proposal is preferred.

      More information about the proposed project options click here.