The Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against the South Carolina Department of Environmental and Health Control for failure to update long-expired water permits.
The three coal plants are Cross, Winyah and Wateree, reported South Strand News. According to the Sierra Club, the agency has kept these expired permits for over a decade and is filing suit to force DHEC to take action on the outdated permits.
At all three sites, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits expired almost a decade ago. South Carolina Environmental Law Project is representing the suit against the agency, according to South Strand News.
As a result, the three coal plants have been releasing excessive and dangerous amounts of toxic pollution, which can poison drinking water, make swimming and fishing unsafe, damage children’s developmental health, and cause cancer, according to the suit.
These plants are also close to mostly Black and low-income neighborhoods, reported South Strand News.
The permits have a maximum term of five years in part to the federal Clean Water Act and the South Carolina Pollution Control Act. Until new guidelines are put into place for these permits, massive outflows of these metals will continue.
The facilities also have not incorporated the 2015 federal effluent limitation guidelines to regulate coal plant discharges, which limits the amount of toxic heavy metals that can be released into waterways.
In South Carolina, there is a loophole that allows plants to keep operating under lapsed permits if a review for new ones has not been completed, reported South Strand News.