• Riverwalk development on hold after underground asbestos landfill disturbed

    By: Greg Suskin

    Updated:

    ROCK HILL, S.C. - Construction in one of Rock Hill’s newest and biggest neighborhoods has been put on hold after an asbestos landfill was uncovered nearby.

    [LINK: OSHA Asbestos Warnings and Dangers]

    Several areas inside a brand-new neighborhood called the Greens at Rock Hill are fenced off out of caution after asbestos was found in soil tests beginning in late October.

    The upscale Riverwalk development is home to walking trails, restaurants, an Olympic bike track and many new homes. It was built on the site of the former Celanese plant, and builders have worked for years to clean up the site as it was being developed.

    Construction crews were building a new road nearly two years ago, connecting Riverwalk to Cel-River Road, when they accidentally dug into an old asbestos landfill, the developer said.

    "We were doing some excavations, and we found that we were bumping into some material we should not have been bumping into. At that point, we stopped," Avencia Homes developer Mark Mather said.

    Crews re-engineered the new road and covered what they had disturbed. Mather said, to his knowledge, the company did not have to notify the Department of Health and Environmental Control at the time, and they didn't.

    Mather said, he believes that, in late October, a disgruntled former employee who had been fired brought the issue to the state's attention.

    The action led to a letter from DHEC to residents. 

    [READ: DHEC Letter to Residents]

    A few of the homes in the new community are finished, but most are still under construction.

    Homeowner J.R. Fountain told Channel 9 he was worried at first.

    "I got concerned, but then I investigated it and it's not a big deal. There's no risk," Fountain said.

    DHEC officials said there is no health threat but, out of an abundance of caution, they required the contractor to fence off areas where the asbestos had been found.

    The spot near the old landfill is supposed to become a community pool, clubhouse and corporate office, but that project is now on hold. Mather said he's not worried about delays.

    "We have to do this right. We want to make sure that DHEC supervises, and let people know the regulators are watching," Mather said.

    Construction on homes in the community is ongoing, and only the fenced-in areas are being tested for asbestos. Construction has stopped at the site of the planned pool, clubhouse and corporate office.

    A representative from DHEC will attend a monthly homeowners' association meeting on Dec. 5 to answer any questions that residents might have about the site. 

    It's not clear how the asbestos found at the site will be dealt with. Officials are still working on a plan.

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