Plans for Bucksport Marina pits environment against economics

Conway's Bucksport Marina in Conway is at the center of a debate over economic development versus environmental concerns.

On Tuesday, local environmental advocacy groups held a news conference to speak out against turning the Bucksport Marina into an Industrial Marine Commerce facility.

"What we are going for is an industrial park, a marine industrial park that will house large boat builders. That's the goal," said Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority CEO Fred Richardson.

In November, the Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority submitted a permit application to do so and is still involved in the process.

The permit still has to be given the green light from the Army Corps of Engineers and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

However, environmental groups do not want to see this happen, because the facility and the construction of the facility could negatively affect the environment.

One major concern is the impact to our area's water quality. Not only affecting the wildlife that lives there, but also because several communities in our area get their drinking water from the Waccamaw River.

"When drinking water is threatened, we should all be very, very worried about it," said Nancy Cave of the Coastal Conservation League.

She says air quality and federal and state protected public lands, including the Waccamaw Wildlife Refuge could also be affected if this goes through.

Richardson disagrees with the list of effects Cave listed.

"The area already has a large marina there. We also have a large water plant, a sod farm, and a tree farm there, so it's a commercial industrial park already. It's not something new. It'll be complimenting what's already there," Richardson.

Out of all the questions and uncertainties out there, Cave said it really boils down to one question that they want to have answered.

"Why are they doing this? Is it really necessary for an industrial park that will certainly impact the community that is there," Cave said.

WPDE NewsChannel 15 asked Richardson how this new Industrial Marine Commerce facility would benefit our area.

"We have a unique chance to recruit new types of industry to Horry County, industries we wouldn't normally have a chance to recruit," said Richardson.

A public hearing about this will be held on March 10 at the Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority on Jackson Bluff Rd in Conway at 6 p.m.