Client Alert: PCB Discharges Prompt DHEC Emergency Regulation

by Nexsen Pruet, PLLC

On September 25, 2013 the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) filed an emergency regulation (Regulation) in response to multiple occurrences of illegal dumping of substances containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into multiple sewer systems across the State.  The Regulation took effect immediately upon filing and remains in effect for ninety (90) days and can be refilled for another ninety (90) days.  DHEC acknowledged the existence of an ongoing investigation into the origin of the materials, including state and federal authorities. 

In August, (press release) DHEC had acknowledged that PCBs had been detected in several publicly-owned treatment works (POTWs) in the Greenville-Spartanburg area of the State.  Concurrent with the filing of the Emergency Regulation, the agency announced (press release) that PCBs had now been detected in a POTW in the Columbia, SC area.

DHEC noted that there was currently no known impact to public health or any confirmed discharge to surface water bodies.  It is also believed that other POTWs bordering South Carolina have recently detected PCBs in their systems.

Some South Carolina wastewater treatment systems are permitted for the land application of their sludge.  Based on the suspected criminal activity, DHEC has determined the need for specific regulations limiting the land application of sludge containing detectable levels of PCBs.  The Regulation addresses the land application of sludge from wastewater treatment systems and specifically limits land application to sludge containing no detectable levels of PCBs and requires increased testing of sludge, regardless of disposal method, to aid in identifying illegal dumping suspects.  DHEC has also informed all of the state’s Class III landfill operators and waste water treatment plants of the matter, and provided them guidance regarding proper disposal and reporting of any suspicious activity.

DHEC also released a summary (PCB background) of the PCB history and issued a Be On the Lookout (BOLO) through the State Law Enforcement Division to heighten awareness among law enforcement of illegal dumping and solicit the help of local law enforcement agencies. 

The provisions of the Regulation address the management of wastewater sludge, including land application of wastewater treatment sludge impacted by illicit discharges of PCBs.  The Regulation does not affect landfill disposal of such sludges; however, DHEC is requesting landfills which accept wastewater treatment sludge for disposal to obtain updated waste profiles for all sludge material.

Land Application of Wastewater Sludge

Previously, Section 503 permits for land application of wastewater treatment plant sludges impose no limits on the land application of sludge with PCB concentrations below 50 ppm.  The Regulation (Section 1.) prohibits the land application of wastewater sludge if levels of PCBs are quantifiable using EPA SW-846 Method 8082A, with sample preparation method #3550C ONLY.  While the PQL for PCBs is 0.50 µ/l (ppb), the Regulation does not specify a minimum detection limit but rather relies upon the certified laboratory to achieve a Method Detection Limit which will most likely be lower than the PQL and vary among laboratories.

So long as the laboratory reports a result lower than its MDL, land application may resume.  At any time the result is quantifiable but below 50 ppm, the sludge can still be landfilled.  In the event that result is greater than 50 ppm, the sludge must be managed at a TSCA- approved facility.  Any quantifiable PCB result in the sludge must be reported to DHEC within five (5) calendar days of receipt of such results.

Facilities with a Section 503 land application permit must collect representative sludge samples each calendar quarter to confirm the absence of quantifiable levels of PCBs (Section 2.).  No additional land application may occur until such initial sampling has been completed or a sample has been collected no more than fifteen (15) days prior to the effective date of the Regulation.  Records of such sampling must be maintained for five (5) years and reported annually to the DHEC.  Presumably, DHEC intends to move forward with promulgation of a permanent regulation codifying these requirements since they would not extend beyond the expiration date of the Regulation.

Sludge Treatment at Wastewater Systems

The Regulation (Section 3.) also addresses how a wastewater facility may manage PCB contaminated sludge resulting from an illicit discharge into the wastewater system.  Where wastewater such as filtrate, is generated from sludge management equipment (e.g., dewater, thickening) and recirculated into the wastewater treatment components, it will be deemed in compliance with applicable water quality regulations provided the recirculated wastewater does not contain a PCB concentration which is quantifiable using EPA Method 608, i.e., non-detectable.


DHEC has issued guidelines (PCB background) for owners of grease traps describing applicable requirements and offering methods for proper handling of PCB contaminated waste.  The guidelines provide links to laboratories as well as contractors capable of providing assistance.  In addition, DHEC has advised (memo to WWTP and MSWLF) wastewater treatment plant owners as well as municipal solid waste (MSW Class III) landfill operators that updated waste profiles to include analysis for PCBs to ensure that no sludge with PCB concentrations greater than 50 ppm is disposed of at an Class III MSW landfill.  A similar directive (memo to processing) was issued to solid waste processing facilities requiring an updated waste profile for PCBs.  Finally, DHEC has notified (memo to haulers) grease and sludge haulers to exercise caution when collecting and handling waste from grease traps and other sludge facilities.


The Regulation remains in effect through December 24, 2013.  Since this falls on a holiday as do December 25th and 26th, the next business day would be December 27, 2013.  Since the General Assembly is not in session, the Regulation may be refiled to extend the expiration date for an additional ninety (90) days.  It is expected that two things are likely to occur – rulemaking would proceed to incorporate these provisions into SC Reg. 61-9 and Section 503 permits will be modified to include these provisions.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Nexsen Pruet, PLLC | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Nexsen Pruet, PLLC

Nexsen Pruet, PLLC on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.