USCG: Oil spill in Sampit still being monitored

GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WCIV) -- Officials with the Coast Guard said they continue to monitor the cleanup of an oil spill on the Sampit River in Georgetown Thursday.

According to a USCG release, ArcelorMittal Steel Mill took responsibility for the spill and contacted HEPACO, the organization responding to the spill, to begin containment and recovery of the oil.

According to their website, ArcelorMittal Georgetown is an electric furnace and wire rod plant that serves construction, automotive, industrial and converter markets. The plant has stood on its site since 1969.

On Wednesday, USCG responders found part of a containment boom -- a floating barrier used to contain an oil spill -- which should always remain around the facility to protect the Sampit River from pollution, had gotten caught on a piling.

That created a gap in the containment system and caused spilled oil to escape into the Sampit River.{} ArcelorMittal is still working to find out where the spill originally came from.

"I was in the plant earlier and some of the oil that was out in one of the water catchment systems spilled over," said Brian LeFebrve, Chief of Response at Coast Guard Sector Charleston.{}"There is a dirty water catchment system ..some of the oil that was in the system spilled over into the clean system, which is how it ended up leaking out."

As of 11 a.m. Thursday, more than 500 gallons of oil-water mixture has been recovered.

USCG officials said a 50-foot section of new containment boom has been put in place and an additional 100 feet of new sorbent -- a material used to adsorb liquids or gases -- and hard boom has been placed at the drain pipe.

"Boom is not a perfect system, so it does require monitoring," said LeFebrve. "In this case, they had two boom systems an inner boom and an outer boom. The inner boom was old and really past its service life. The outer boom actually was snagged, so it wasn't completely at the waters edge and that is what allowed some of the product to be released."

While HEPACO continues to recover oil, there have been no reports of injured wildlife.

Also responding are the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

"I think the impact to downtown Georgetown is going to be minimalthe brunt of the impact is at the foot of the facility where it meets the water's edge," said Brian LeFebrve, Chief of Response at Coast Guard Sector Charleston.

It is unclear at this time how long the cleanup will take and how much it will cost the steel mill.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off