Hazardous material detected in five Cheraw homes after Florence flooding

EPA(Source: Kristi O'Connor)
Published: Sep. 27, 2018 at 8:50 PM EDT
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CHERAW, SC (WBTV) - Five families cannot return to their homes in Cheraw after Hurricane Florence. It is not because of the flooding, although that did force several of them out, it’s due to toxic material.

The Environmental Protective Agency reports that PCBs were detected in five Cheraw homes near Huckleberry Park. PCBs are chemicals that have been known to cause cancer. The EPA banned the chemicals, that were often given off in industrial plants, in 1978.

In 2016, South Carolina DHEC says soil near the Pee Dee River, 14 residential yards and Huckleberry Park showed high concentrations of PCBs. According to the EPA, the PCBs are believed to be have given off at the former Burlington Industries Plant in Cheraw. The plant is now home to Highland Industries.

Since it’s discovering in Cheraw soil, the EPA has been overseeing the clean-up process. Huckleberry Park has been closed since then.

EPA On-Scene Coordinator Matthew Huyser says the clean-up process was nearly finished at Huckleberry Park before Florence made landfall. But once the park flooded with storm water and overflowed into neighboring homes, the hazardous material spread.

“We learned that PCBs has entered some of those homes,” Huyser said. “We’re still trying to identify how that release might have occurred.”

Since the PCBs were discovered, the families living in those homes have been told to leave. Many of them had already evacuated from the flooding.

Huyser expects the clean-up process to take a few days.

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