DHEC plans community meeting about jellyfish-processing operation

emoody@beaufortgazette.comApril 17, 2014 

The Millenarian Trading Company docks are shown April 11 on St. Helena Island.

DELAYNA EARLEY — Staff photo Buy Photo

State officials reviewing permits for a controversial jellyfish-processing operation will be on hand for a public meeting Tuesday night.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control will host a community meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Whale Branch Middle School, 2009 Trask Parkway, Seabrook.

A company that does business under the names Millenarian Trading Co. and Carolina Jelly Balls want to catch cannonball jellyfish, unload them at Golden Dock on St. Helena Island and process them at the former ArrMaz Custom Chemical site in Lobeco. Permits for the processing site are under review, so Carolina Jelly Balls is setting up a temporary processing site at Williams Farm in Colleton County.

Attempts Thursday to reach Steve Giese, a representative and spokesman for the companies, for comment were unsuccessful.

A postcard with information about the meeting is being sent to residents near the sites and to groups and individuals who told DHEC they were interested in the operation, according to a department spokesman.

The meeting will focus on DHEC's review of waste and stormwater at the Colleton County site, according to the DHEC notice. Officials will also give a summary about its actions related to the Lobeco site.

The company will need an industrial wastewater permit and approval to pump or haul wastewater to a municipal wastewater treatment facility at the Colleton County site, according to the notice.

Although an April 4 letter from DHEC to Giese said it appeared Golden Dock would also need an industrial wastewater permit, the meeting announcement states that has changed.

"DHEC's initial determination is that permits are not needed for the unloading activity at Golden Dock Road," according to the notice.

DHEC was not able to provide an explanation for the change Thursday.

The jellyfish operation is already underway, company representative Steven Giese told DHEC officials in early April during an investigation prompted by anonymous complaints. An April 4 letter from DHEC cautioned Giese that operating without proper permits could lead to "enforcement action."

Giese told DHEC officials that 14,000 pounds of jellyfish had been unloaded from boats and rinsed March 29 in a "test run of their offloading procedure." Half those were shucked -- their caps removed from their stems -- and rinsing water was pulled from and disposed into Jenkins Creek.

A DHEC official found 13 bins of undisclosed size full of jellyfish at the Colleton County site. The jellyfish had not been processed.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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