The South Carolina Administrative Law court has ruled in favor of WestEdge, upholding the permit that allows the WestEdge Foundation to proceed with the much-needed stormwater mitigation project on the west side of the Charleston peninsula.
The purpose of the permit, issued by S.C. DHEC in 2021, is to cap the exposed landfill and fill the degraded marsh and drainage feature to stop the frequent tidal and storm-related flooding of polluted water that harms the surrounding community.
Friends of Gadsden Creek, an organization that formed to oppose the filling of the wetlands, challenged the issuance of the permit, and a hearing before the South Carolina Administrative Law Court was held June 6-10, 2022. Chief Administrative Law Judge Ralph King Anderson III issued his decision on Dec. 5 upholding the issuance of the permit. See the full order here.
The following relevant points were made in the decision issued by Judge Anderson:
- “In a first for this Court, FOGC, ostensibly an environmental organization, tried to downplay the harm from the exposed landfill…(FOGC expert Joshua Robinson) opined that the contaminants are not in concentrations that would be dangerous. However, I do not find a sufficient evidentiary basis for that conclusion.”
- “As FOGC witnesses explained to this Court, children and adults are brought into the creek – the source of the contamination – for educational walks. As a result, it appears they have been exposed to the toxic substances seeping from the landfill. Indeed the sample results showed the presence of high levels of lead, which the Court takes judicial notice is especially toxic to children.”
- After thoroughly vetting FOGC’s alternative solutions presented, the Court concluded that the alternatives did not satisfy the dual purpose of controlling the flooding and addressing the contamination. The Court then concluded that the WestEdge Foundation Project “is the only way to (1) ensure the landfill will stop threatening the health, safety, and welfare of people and the environment” and “(2) address the flooding issues, which are also a threat to public health.”