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GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCIV) — A white dust emitted from the Century Aluminum plant has been spreading through parts of Goose Creek.Goose Creek Mayor Greg Habib addressed the issue in a social media post on Oct. 2.Read more: MCRFD: Driver crashes into house in Moncks Corner; crashes...
GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCIV) — A white dust emitted from the Century Aluminum plant has been spreading through parts of Goose Creek.
Goose Creek Mayor Greg Habib addressed the issue in a social media post on Oct. 2.
According to Habib, the white dust is Alumina dust, which is produced during the smelting process. Alumina dust is not supposed to leave the plant and is considered an important component of plant's ability to make more aluminum.
Century Aluminum believes the emissions may be caused by an "unusual" failure in the plant's baghouse, according to Habib.
"As you may know, all exhaust from the manufacturing process runs through a scrubber to clean the air and the Alumina dust is collected into the bags in the baghouse," the mayor said in a statement. "Century Aluminum then takes the dust and reintroduces (it) into the manufacturing process to make more aluminum."
According to Habib, Century Aluminum is looking at two potential possibilities for the emissions. One possibility is a recent change of suppliers for the filters in the baghouse and another is recent episodes of high pressure in the baghouse.
The mayor says Century Aluminum reported the issues to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).
"Century assures us they are working diligently to address these emission issues," Habib said in a statement. "I do not doubt this. The Mount Holly aluminum smelter has been in operation for more than 40 years. They employ hundreds of our friends and neighbors and have a tremendous impact on our local economy. In my 40 years of living here, I do not recall another issue related to emissions from the plant."
Habib also says he has asked for a town hall from Century Aluminum and the DHEC.
READ THE COMMENTS (1)
An online petition was created on Oct. 1 demanding action to reduce aluminum emissions from the plant. As of Oct. 3, it has 333 signatures.
GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCIV) — People who live in Goose Creek have been complaining for weeks about a white powder-like substance in the air- identified as alumina dust.They said it’s been covering their cars and homes, and even making it hard to breathe.Monday night, Goose Creek residents heard from health and environmental experts for the first time about the issue, and their plan to fix it.Century Aluminum addresses alumina dust concerns in Goose Creek: Promises resolution in 10 days. Community town hall held ...
GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCIV) — People who live in Goose Creek have been complaining for weeks about a white powder-like substance in the air- identified as alumina dust.
They said it’s been covering their cars and homes, and even making it hard to breathe.
Monday night, Goose Creek residents heard from health and environmental experts for the first time about the issue, and their plan to fix it.
Century Aluminum addresses alumina dust concerns in Goose Creek: Promises resolution in 10 days. Community town hall held Oct. 9, 2023. (WCIV)
They were also able to ask representatives from Century Aluminum and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) questions
Some told News 4 before the meeting started they were just looking for transparency.
“First, we’re sorry. I understand your concerns and frustrations, but we also appreciate your patience. We will fix this issue,” said Dennis Harbath, the plant manager at Century Aluminum.
Century Aluminum said the release of alumina dust in Goose Creek first happened because of accelerated bag failures. They said they’re replacing the failed bags and expect their action plan to take 10 days to solve the problem.
But people who live in the area are still concerned.
“I’m exhausted all the time, I get headaches, you know, my eyes burn. It’s just been a total nightmare,” said Jackie Davis Pfister.
Pfister lives in Goose Creek, and people like her who have preexisting conditions like asthma are worried about long-term effects.
“Before I never really had to use my inhaler except for when I was sick or overexerted myself, that was the only time I used it, but now it’s just a regular basis, three to five times [per day],” she said.
DHEC said there is a certain type of aluminum oxide particles they’re keeping their eye on.
“What we were most concerned about is actually the smaller particles that you could actually breathe in and actually get into your lungs. So, for that reason we did put out some air sensors,” said Rhonda Thompson, the Bureau of Air Quality chief for DHEC.
But she said the readings from their sensors have been very low so far.
Other questions came from the crowd: Why didn’t the plant shut down when the leak first happened? And, how will aluminum oxide affect animals, and not just people?
But Monday’s experts said they couldn’t answer some of those questions, leaving many frustrated.
Statistics from the DHEC air sensors and the area’s current air quality can be found on DHEC's website.
People can also go to mthollyupdates.com for more information from Century Aluminum, including how the plant is working to solve this issue.
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is now investigating complaints about a white dust produced by an aluminum plant that has caused complaints and worries for Goose Creek residents.Alumina dust is a gritty substance people who live near the Mount Holly Century Aluminum Plant say coats vehicles, plants, mailboxes and anything else outside in areas across Goose Creek. It is produced during the smelting process but is not supposed to leave the plant, a problem DHEC is now looking i...
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is now investigating complaints about a white dust produced by an aluminum plant that has caused complaints and worries for Goose Creek residents.
Alumina dust is a gritty substance people who live near the Mount Holly Century Aluminum Plant say coats vehicles, plants, mailboxes and anything else outside in areas across Goose Creek. It is produced during the smelting process but is not supposed to leave the plant, a problem DHEC is now looking into.
The Mount Holly aluminum smelter has been operating for more than 40 years. But some neighbors say it is recent emissions from the plant that they’re not getting answers about, making them worry about their health.
“It looks like someone has taken baby powder and just shook it all over the cars,” Jackie Davis Pfister, who lives in Goose Creek, says. “It’s gritty. It’s baking into our cars.”
Davis Pfister says this entire process has just been a nightmare and says she’s not the only one who is frustrated. There are multiple posts on Facebook that have garnered hundreds of comments about the same thing.
“It needs to be more addressed than it has been,” Goose Creek resident Marilyn Leegette says. “I wish DHEC would send out some kind of hazard report so people can make themselves educated about what this can do to them.”
DHEC confirmed agents have been to the facility and in the community to gather information as part of their investigation. They say they are working closely with the facility to develop an immediate corrective action plan.
Jonathan Brown, Century Aluminum’s Environmental, Health, and Safety Manager, confirmed that Century believes the emissions may be caused by an unusual failure in the plant’s baghouse. The plant is not 100% sure of the reason for the failure, but are looking at two potential possibilities. One is that a recent change of suppliers for the filters in the baghouse took place, and Century knows that on three occasions a very small portion of the bags failed. The second possibility is recent episodes of high pressure in the bag house.
Brown says Century is working diligently to address these emission issues.
On Monday, Century confirmed they had four “events.” One happened on Sept. 3, two on Sept. 16 and another on Sept. 30. Century says the issue will be fixed by Oct. 17.
But those in the community are worried about their health with some people reporting problems like rashes and difficulty breathing.
“It’s very concerning for me,” Leegette says. “I believe honestly that if there are short-term effects that are showing, there has got to be long-term effects as well.”
“If we could just know what type of air we’re breathing: Is it dangerous to us? I think we just want to know the answer,” Davis Pfister says.
DHEC says alumina dust is not considered a hazardous substance. The particle size of the dust being seen in the community is large and therefore too big to enter human lungs; however, it can still irritate skin, eyes, and the nose, and can be a respiratory irritant after prolonged exposure.
DHEC has also deployed portable air sensors in the area to measure any smaller, breathable particulate matter, called “fine particulate matter.”
DHEC says it’s important to know that the data will represent all particulate matter in the area, not just from a single source or single facility. There can be many different sources of particulate matter emissions within an area. The data from these sensors will help the agency identify any air quality trends in the community.
After an inquiry into the issue, the city of Goose Creek set up a town hall meeting with Century Aluminum and DHEC representatives for Monday at 6 p.m. at City Hall. Mayor Greg Habib will moderate this discussion, which will include questions from attendees. Experts in toxicology, air quality and public health from DHEC will join Century Aluminum leaders who will discuss the issue of excess emissions at the plant, and the plan to fix this problem.
Century says they have set up a website where residents should report their personal situation. They can also call a hotline number at 312-696-3131.
Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.
A new residential development slated for the northern edge of Goose Creek could bring nearly 1,000 new housing units....
A new residential development slated for the northern edge of Goose Creek could bring nearly 1,000 new housing units.
South Carolina’s eighth-largest city is poised to annex a 515-acre parcel on U.S. Highway 52 north of Medway Road, where new single-family homes would be built.
Goose Creek also plans to change the land use on 37 acres between Medway and Montague Plantation roads to allow a mixed-use development.
The larger property, called the Medway Tract, would include 425 single-family houses and 200 age-restricted homes.
The smaller Monarch Tract could have 240 apartments, 71 townhomes and 53,000 square feet of commercial space.
The projects are part of the Laurel Bay planned development making its way through the city approval process.
The 515-acre parcel is owned by Rye-Build LLC of Florida, which paid $4 million for the Medway Tract in 2021, according to Berkeley County land records.
The smaller site would include a commercial development with 46,000 square feet of retail space, including a 30,000-square-foot grocery store and 7,000 square feet set aside for office space. It would sit off Montague Plantation Road at Orangetip Drive.
The small commercial node, which includes the proposed multifamily structures, is currently zoned for general commercial use. The developer, Eastwood Construction Partners, is asking to change that to a planned development as part of the Laurel Bay project.
Homes would not be built on the entire 515-acre Medway parcel. Plans show residences on about 258 acres since part of the tract is wetlands, some of which the city is asking to be placed under a conservation easement.
Eastwood Homes is expected to develop most of the single-family homes, according to Goose Creek Mayor Greg Habib. Sunburst Properties of Tallahassee will likely build planned patio homes.
“It’s going to be a really nice neighborhood with a lot of open space,” Habib said.
Eastwood division president Dion Matheney expects construction on homes to begin in about 24 months. The townhome development is already under construction on the smaller parcel.
“We are trying to get the planned unit development approved for the density and will then start working on the design when we know how many homes will be allowed,” Matheney said.
He also noted some commercial development will occur in the initial phase as the homes in Laurel Bay begin construction.
Habib said the proposed expansion of Goose Creek’s borders is in keeping with his administration’s goal to attract more economic activity to the city of about 48,000 residents.
“Growth is absolutely necessary,” he said. “Until someone invents an economy not based on growth, that’s what we have. You have to grow. It’s how we continue to provide services at a high level.”
He said the city has been working with the developer for about two years to come up with a design that minimizes the effects of additional traffic, phases in commercial development and calls for a higher design standard than what’s required under the existing rules.
The commercial area, including a future supermarket, “is absolutely something we want there,” Habib said. “We’ve had conversations with three potential grocers, but nothing to announce. It’s still early.”
The town’s economic development director also cited the importance of growing the city and adding commercial entities to its northern sector.
Members of the Devon Forest community say they want answers from the Mount Holly Century Aluminum plant after an “emission” was recorded in the past month.GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCSC) - Members of the Devon Forest community say they want answers from the Mount Holly Century Aluminum plant after an “emission” was recorded in the past month.Neighbors say they have been dealing with a gritty substance since the beginning of September.“It’s not something like pollen that’s nice and soft....
Members of the Devon Forest community say they want answers from the Mount Holly Century Aluminum plant after an “emission” was recorded in the past month.
GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCSC) - Members of the Devon Forest community say they want answers from the Mount Holly Century Aluminum plant after an “emission” was recorded in the past month.
Neighbors say they have been dealing with a gritty substance since the beginning of September.
“It’s not something like pollen that’s nice and soft. It’s a hard, silica-type sand, almost,” homeowner Nick Marino said. “It’s not something that easily comes off.”
The substance has settled onto cars, household items and other property. When it first happened, neighbors said it was a light, thin layer. After a few days, that turned into small piles.
“Didn’t think too much at first. It wasn’t a lot,” Marino said. “But as time progressed, it became more and more.”
Marino says he noticed it more often in the early mornings.
“First thing in the morning, I come out, there’s stuff all over the car,” he said. “I guess it’s prevalent, would happen overnight, maybe.”
Many who noticed the change say they were not sure how to remove the substance safely.
“If you try to wipe it off, it scratches the paint on your car,” Leslie Deaver said.
Community members were concerned about whether the substance was safe to breathe, touch or remove.
“It worries us for health reasons, it worries us for vehicles and whatever else, the school in the neighborhood,” Marino said. “We just want to know what’s causing it and a solution so it stops.”
“We’ve been here 15 years, we’ve never seen it this bad,” Deaver added.
A statement released from Mount Holly Plant Manager Dennis Harbath confirms an alumina emission from the plant as of Sept. 5:
Due to a process disruption, Century Aluminum´s Mt. Holly plant has experienced an emission of alumina, a non-hazardous raw material used in our smelting process. Local regulators were notified on September 5 and are working closely with us on the matter. Since the occurrence, a team has been working to promptly resolve the issue. Century Aluminum’s Mt. Holly plant is diligent in its safety and environmental protection measures, and, as of this time, there is no determination that the plant emitted any substance in exceedance of permitted limits, and we are investigating whether any of the emission particulate traveled beyond the plant property. Nonetheless, we are conducting a thorough internal inquiry to prevent future occurrences of this issue.
Alumina, or aluminum oxide is white or nearly colorless and used to make aluminum metals. The plant says they are working to investigate the issue and fix it.
Community members still have eyebrows raised.
“This shouldn’t be something that’s kept in the dark, reviewed behind closed doors. Let the public know what’s going on, get us involved,” Marino said. “Maybe hold an open house with Century Aluminum so we can have our questions answered.”
Neighbors asked for wider community awareness and transparency from the plant when these emissions occur in the future.
“It’s literally right across the road from us, from our backs. Were probably the closest to it in this neighborhood,” Deaver said. “That would be nice to know. ‘Hey, we’re going to release this at a certain time, this is what to expect.’ Just community knowledge.”
Harbath released a follow-up statement Tuesday saying the company is continuing to monitor progress:
As an update, we have been continuing to diligently work on resolving our process disruption and have taken a number of actions to minimize any resulting emissions. In addition, we are still in regular communication with regulators on our progress, including a recent visit to our site.
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