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COLUMBIA — South Carolina environmental groups are suing a Columbia-based manufacturer for allegedly pumping dangerous “forever chemicals” into the Saluda River, endangering the drinking water supplies of West Columbia and Cayce.

The Southern Environmental Law Center, on behalf of the Congaree Riverkeepers, has sued carpet manufacturer Shaw Industries, which owns a 470-acre factory on St. Andrews Road near Seven Oaks Park and is responsible for the pollution, according to SELC. The factory has been producing fibers and nylon chips used in carpets since 2005.

The lawsuit was filed three months after Shaw was served with a notice of intent in which the same organizations informed the company that they would sue if the company did not remediate the alleged pollution.

‘Forever chemicals’ from Columbia plant threaten Saluda River drinking water, advocates say

The case alleges that the plant is discharging untreated water containing PFAS, a dangerous class of chemicals that persist in the environment for long periods of time, into the lower Saluda River.

They did so without the permit required by the federal Clean Water Act, and PFAS and other toxins escaped from Shaw’s unsealed wastewater ponds, contaminating groundwater and the river, the lawsuit says.

“Shaw is polluting a scenic trout fishing area and a drinking water source for thousands of South Carolina residents with highly toxic PFAS chemicals,” said Carl Brzorad, lead attorney for SELC. “With the case filed today, we seek to stop this unlawful pollution.”

Seven private wells in the Midlands and Upstate were found to have levels above the permissible limit for “perpetual chemicals”

Elevated levels of PFAS in the human body have been linked to reduced fertility, high blood pressure during pregnancy, developmental delays in children, hormonal disorders, a weakened immune system and an increased risk of certain types of cancer.