85
      Wednesday
      88 / 73
      Thursday
      86 / 73
      Friday
      84 / 72

      Oil spill cleanup underway on Sampit River in Georgetown

      Oil-stained pollen floats on the surface of the water at the Georgetown, S.C. Harborwalk Thursday, March 20, 2014.

      The United States Coast Guard continues to monitor cleanup efforts at an oil spill on the Sampit River in downtown Georgetown, Thursday afternoon.

      ArcelorMittal Steel Mill took responsibility for the spill, according to a Coast Guard press release, and has contracted with HEPACO to contain and recover the oil.

      HEPACO is a spill response organization.

      The company is still trying to pinpoint the source of the oil and how much spilled into the river, the Coast Guard said.

      The USCG arrived on the scene Wednesday night and said, "Upon arrival at the mill Wednesday evening, Coast Guard pollution responders discovered a portion of the containment boom, which always remains around the facility to protect the Sampit River from any residual pollutant, had gotten caught on a piling, creating a gap in the containment system and allowing the spilled oil to escape into the Sampit River.

      As of 11 a.m. Thursday, more than 500 gallons of oil-water mixture has been recovered. A 50-foot section of new containment boom has been placed in the area where the gap occurred and additional 100 feet of new sorbent and hard boom has been placed at the drain pipe where the oil exited the facility."

      There have been no reports of injured wildlife.

      "The mill has been extremely cooperative throughout the entire process. They immediately took responsibility and immediately hired contractors to start recovering the product as soon as possible. So fortunately, they've been very cooperative which makes the process much easier and go much more effectively," Petty Officer First Class Lauren Jorgensen said.

      The Department of Health and Environmental Control and the Department of Natural Resources are also responding.