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An unidentified spill covers Ashley Avenue in Downtown Charleston.  Photo by: Andy Lassiter

An unidentified spill covers Ashley Avenue in Downtown Charleston. Photo by: Andy Lassiter

On June 15, 2009 a vehicle heading north on Ashley Avenue spilled what appeared to be hydraulic fluid all over the street.  The spill stretched a distance of three blocks, from the intersection of Bee St. and Ashley Ave. to the intersection of Spring St. and Ashley Ave.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control, Charleston Police Department, Charleston Fire Department and the SC Department of Transportation all responded to the incident.  Eyewitnesses claimed to have seen a truck traveling up Ashley Avenue with a pipe discharging fluid out of the underside of the vehicle.

Hours after the incident, a DHEC official told me that they had not identified a responsible party.  Efforts were taken to decrease the danger to commuters.  Sand was spread over the spill to provide traction; however there were no efforts to remove or clean up the spill.  While officials covered the oil with sand, rain began to fall over downtown.  As rain fell, the oil began to run off into the storm drains on either side of the street (storm drains are connected directly to our waterways).

Charleston Waterkeeper will follow up on this incident to see if any further information is discovered.  This spill raises potential questions about the effectiveness of the methods used by officials when responding to oil spills.  I did not see that all efforts were made to mitigate damage to our waterways.