Ever since our founding, we have strived to create, refine and enforce environmental protections by offering our legal expertise to those in need, giving them an effective voice and legal muscle in processes when they would otherwise be financially foreclosed or procedurally marginalized. We aim to carry forward SCELP’s original motto “no case is too small” whenever a vulnerable community seeks assistance in our areas of expertise.Support Our Work
Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, the landmark law enacted in 1972 in response to the declining state of US waters, including Ohio's Cuyahoga River catching on fire.
Yet fifty years later, water and hazardous chemicals still mix too often, too easily and too predictably in certain ZIP codes. At SCELP, we know that even if pollution and toxic contamination are somewhat localized, we all breathe the same air, drink the same water and live off the same land.
Industrial pollution is still a major problem today simply because major polluters across the nation were allowed to dump in the South and find other sacrifice zones to operate within. Thanks to the early vision and success of SCELP under our founder Jimmy Chandler’s leadership, we were able to force the shutdown of the Safety-Kleen (formerly Laidlaw) Pinewood landfill, the Tyger River incinerator and the Thermal-KEM incinerator in Rock Hill, while also fighting and preventing the creation of mega-dumps in rural Marlboro and Laurens Counties.
And today, we are carrying on Jimmy’s legacy, taking on important cases like challenging DHEC’s authorization to fill Gadsden Creek in Charleston while not giving up on pushing for swift cleanup of the Bramlett site in Greenville’s Southernside community. And we’re advocating for access to safe, affordable and reliable drinking water across the state – asking for limits on harmful PFAS chemicals and for protective regulations for water storage tanks.
While we may not see rivers catching on fire anymore, the disproportionate burden of pollution and environmental harm on marginalized communities must remain front and center, if we are truly looking for systemic solutions to increasingly daunting challenges of worsening environmental crises and climate change.
Access to safe, affordable and reliable drinking water is a basic human right, indispensable to sustaining healthy livelihoods and maintaining people’s dignity. It is also an increasingly urgent environmental protection and justice issue in South Carolina.
On behalf of Friends of Gadsden Creek, we are challenging DHEC’s authorization to fill and destroy one of the last tidal creeks on the Charleston peninsula for a mixed-use development. (Photo of Gadsden Creek and the Gadsden Green Community by Jared Bramblett)
The Bramlett plant, located in Greenville's Southernside community, is leaking dangerous pollutants into the Reedy River. Immediate cleanup is needed.
On behalf of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, we submitted comments objecting to Dominion Energy’s application for a permit to install a 14.5-mile gas main pipeline through Florence County.
The landfill at issue in this case was proposed by MRR Highway 92, LLC, a North Carolina company, and would have been located in the town of Gray Court, a small community in Laurens County. SCELP represented an ad hoc group called Engaging and Guarding Laurens County’s Environment (“EAGLE”).
In rural Marlboro County – one of the state’s poorest, and one which generates very little waste – MRR sought permits to construct a brand new mega-dump that would have accepted hundreds of thousands of tons of out-of-state waste. Working with Citizens for Marlboro County, we advocated successfully against the new landfill, and then we successfully defended them against a baseless retaliatory lawsuit filed by MRR.
C & D Management Company applied for and obtained a permit to construct a construction and demolition waste landfill in the City of Rock Hill.
After over 15 years of legal proceedings, in 2000 SCELP finally won the Sierra Club's appeal of the permit for the hazardous waste landfill located on the shores of Lake Marion in Sumter County, and the landfill has since been shut down.
For over seven years SCELP pursued a citizen suit seeking penalties and correction of more than one thousand violations of the Clean Water Act involving excess discharges of mercury and other toxic substances into the North Tyger River from a hazardous waste incinerator in Spartanburg County. The battle went all the way to the United States Supreme Court before we eventually prevailed, and the incinerator shut its doors.