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Greenville Business Magazine

The Business Narrative: Toxic Waste Cleanup

Mar 20, 2024 10:19AM ● By Donna Walker

USS Yorktown Cleanup Full Steam Ahead

(Photo: The USS Yorktown in the Cooper River)


Gov. Henry McMaster on March 19, 2024, was joined by federal, state, and local leaders to announce the completion of Phase 1 of the USS Yorktown Environmental Remediation project and the anticipated start of Phase 2.


The cleanup follows McMaster's 2022 Executive Order, which directed the South Carolina Office of Resilience to begin the process of removing over a million gallons of toxic pollutants from the USS Yorktown that are at risk of leaking into Charleston Harbor. 


"There are few challenges that our state faces that are as urgent as the removal of toxic waste from the USS Yorktown – and we do not have another minute to waste," McMaster said.


He added, "At any moment, we are just one severe storm away from an environmental disaster that would not only destroy Charleston Harbor's delicate ecosystem but also greatly impair commercial shipping and tourism. That is why we must finish this project and finish it on time to continue to protect the Lowcountry." 


In 1975, the U.S. Navy donated the World War II Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Yorktown to the state of South Carolina to become a museum ship at Patriots Point in Charleston Harbor.


A 2013 study by the Patriots Point Authority revealed that the USS Yorktown still contained approximately 160,000 gallons of petroleum and 1.6 million gallons of impacted polluted waters and polychlorinated biphenyl compounds that were not removed from the ship’s 428 vessel tanks/compartments by the U.S. Navy.


Officials said if these hazardous materials were to leak out of the USS Yorktown into the harbor, they would significantly damage the area’s natural resources and the harbor’s ecosystem, including nearby marshes, estuaries, barrier islands, tidal creeks, and beaches. 


"The impacts of these pollutants in our environment are known, and they are long-lasting," said Department of Natural Resources Director Robert Boyles.


Boyles added, "Today, we gather at halftime between Phase 1 and Phase 2 of this remediation project to remind people of the importance of our natural resources and how important it is that we have an orderly removal of the pollutants that remain on the USS Yorktown."


Phase 1 of the remediation project was conducted from August to December 2023. It included the extraction of 568,800 gallons of oily water, the removal of 8.88 tons of sludge and mud, the disposal of 4.5 tons of asbestos waste, and 35 external hull repairs.


Phase 2 will go before the Joint Bond Review Committee on March 20, for approval. It includes the removal of 1.2 million gallons of hydrocarbons, 15,000 gallons of fluid from non-structural compartments, the removal of bulk liquid from machinery room bilge compartments, and the repair and cleaning of tanks. 

Lutheran Seminary Moving from Columbia, SC, to Hickory, NC

Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, one of the ELCA’s seven seminaries, will move from Columbia, South Carolina, to the main campus of Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, North Carolina, early next year pending approval of the university’s trustees in March.


“The reasons for this decision are clear: The budget deficits that we face at the seminary are insurmountable considering current enrollment and broad national trends in theological vocations,” the Rev. Dr. Chad Rimmer, LTSS’s rector and dean, wrote in a letter announcing the plan to the seminary’s alumni.


Rimmer added, “While many have faithfully and valiantly guided our seminary through difficult years, including the psycho-social and financial pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, the time has come to realize that without bold action, the mission of the seminary is simply not sustainable.”


By moving the seminary, the university will save about $2.1 million per year in LTSS operating costs and eliminate significant deferred maintenance costs on the Columbia campus, which is far larger than LTSS’s current program requires.


While the seminary plans to relocate, its mission to prepare leaders for the church’s public ministry will remain unchanged.


“Embedded on a campus with a long and rich history of Lutheran higher education, we will be more able to fulfill the seminary’s strategic plan that guides the way in which we nurture, educate and form leaders for public ministry in today’s world,” Rimmer said.


All current full-time teaching and library faculty as well as full-time LTSS staff will be offered jobs in Hickory, and university and seminary leaders have pledged to work with faculty and alumni to find ways of relocating meaningful artifacts from the seminary’s Columbia chapel and campus to its new space in Hickory.


The seminary’s theological library will also move to Hickory.


“In the last several years, we have invested heavily in LTSS by adding admissions personnel, a Lutheran studies chair, new support staff, a lifelong learning director, and, most recently, hiring Chad Rimmer as rector and dean,” Lenoir-Rhyne President Fred Whitt said.


Whitt added, “We want to continue to invest in the seminary’s program and curriculum, and moving the seminary to the Hickory campus will mean that we can be good stewards of the resources we have. This will resolve the seminary’s operating deficit, reduce the cost of deferred maintenance, and allow us to continue to invest in LTSS’s program and mission. We are committed to faithful stewardship and to the seminary’s long-term sustainability.”


When the seminary moves to Lenoir-Rhyne’s Hickory campus, students preparing for ministry will be able to take courses in fields related to ministry, including Spanish language; business; counseling; environmental and health sciences, and will also be able to take advantage of campus amenities for recreation and arts and culture.


Seminary leaders anticipate that the move to the Hickory campus, home to more than 2,200 students, will make lifelong learning opportunities for lay and clergy leaders more attractive and create a pipeline of undergraduate students called to ministry.

AGRU America Expands Operations in Williamsburg County

AGRU America, a U.S. manufacturer of engineering plastics solutions, said it is expanding operations in Williamsburg County.


The company’s $7.8 million investment will create approximately six jobs, according to Gov. Henry McMaster’s office.


Georgetown, South Carolina–based AGRU America is a subsidiary of AGRU Kunststofftechnik GmbH, an Austrian family-owned business operating since 1948.


The company’s solutions, including AGRU geosynthetics, concrete protective liners, pipes and fittings, and semi-finished products, are sold in over 100 countries on six continents.


AGRU America has four facilities in South Carolina, with the latest expansion adding new machinery and equipment to the manufacturing facility located at 3537 County Line Road in Andrews.


Individuals interested in joining AGRU America should go to the company’s careers page.

Reedy Reels Film Festival This Weekend: 66+ Films to See in Downtown Greenville

Movie lovers will see more than 66 films at the Piedmont Natural Gas Presents Reedy Reels: The Greenville Film Festival March 22 to March 24 at the South Carolina Children’s Theatre in downtown Greenville.


The three-day festival is being held in the heart of downtown Greenville as film fans have hundreds of options for food, drink, and sightseeing during breaks between movies.


The 66 films being shown - that’s 11 hours of movies over three days - are a mix of short films, documentaries, student films, and animations in a variety of genres.


Tickets include daily passes and weekend festival passes. A daily pass gives attendees entry to all film sessions for that day.


The weekend festival pass gives attendees entry into all festival screening sessions. Purchase passes here and see the film schedule here, which includes breakout Q&A sessions with filmmakers and the selection of Indie Grant winners.


Piedmont Natural Gas Presents Reedy Reels: The Greenville Festival is an independent film festival promoting the appreciation of the art of film-making while generating support for independent filmmakers in the Upstate.


The Reedy Reels Film Festival is a nonprofit organization that supports the education and appreciation of filmmaking. 


Learn more at

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