Public meetings set for jellyfish processing plant

emoody@beaufortgazette.comJanuary 21, 2014 

This bin of iced cannonball jellyfish was part of a demonstration at the Port Royal Shrimp Dock when a corporation wanted to bring a processing plant to the community.

FILE — Staff photo Buy Photo

The public will have two chances in coming weeks to learn and ask questions about a proposal to process cannonball jellyfish in Seabrook for shipment mostly to Asian markets.

Previously operating as Millenarian Trading Co. and now as Carolina Jelly Balls LLC, company representatives are eyeing the former ArrMaz Custom Chemical site at 23 John Meeks Way, where a number of chemical plants have operated and toxic PCBs have been found.

The developer would receive tax credits for continuing cleanup of the site while making way for the processing plant. But some in Seabrook worry the plant would pose its own environmental concerns.

The Beaufort County Development Review Team will discuss the project and other agenda items at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the executive conference room of the administration building at 100 Ribaut Road in Beaufort.

County Councilman Gerald Dawson also has organized a community meeting for 7 p.m. Feb. 6 at James J. Davis Elementary School, 364 Keans Neck Road, Dale.

County planning director Tony Criscitiello said the review team will decide whether to forward the proposal to the Zoning Appeals Review Board, where it would receive a public hearing.

Among the concerns the team will consider, Criscitiello said, is the discharge of wastewater from the plant and its effect on the salinity of surrounding waters.

The team will also consider the potential to disturb PCBs and other elements in the site's soil, and traffic and odors that might result from the processing, he said.

The meeting organized by Dawson will include a presentation about the proposed plant and comments from Carolina Jelly Balls representative Steve Giese.

Company CEO Anthony Su; Bob Gross, environmental engineer and former S.C. Department of Health and Control official; and contractor Steve Patterson of Patterson Construction Co. are expected to attend, as well, Giese said.

The public can ask questions of the company representatives about the project and potential effect on the community.

"We feel confident that when we do, (the public) will see there's nothing to be fearful of, and once everyone is informed, the community will be behind this," Giese said.

Giese also represented Millenarian when it was attempting to start operations at the town of Port Royal's shrimp docks. Millenarian wanted to collect cannonball jellyfish at the docks, then process them at a plant in another, undetermined place in Beaufort County.

That plan fell apart after Port Royal Town Council learned of Giese's history of financial problems.

"This gives the people living within this area the chance to learn more about this organization and decide if this is a business they want in their community," Dawson said in a news release.

Attempts Tuesday to reach Dawson for further comment were unsuccessful.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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