As I Sit Here Driving…

As a Spartanburg native, I have driven the miserable stretch of I-85 between Spartanburg and Greenville countless times. I’ve done so while going home for the holidays, before moving back into school in August, and when commutingto Furman during a summer internship.

What I would have never known is that there is a facility off of that stretch of highway that is contaminating Frey Creek, which then discharges into the Tyger River. This facility claims to have its own “wastewater treatment facility,” but really it has been neglecting to take care of its wastewater. This is evident from the documentation that the Department of Health and Environmental Control has on this facility; the chemical levels in its wastewater treatment facility have been noncompliant over and over.

While the priority of my fellowship has been coastal preservation policy research, I have been investigating this site with my supervisor, Michael Corley. We have visited the site and it has been an incredibly informative experience for me to read through the documentation that DHEC has on this facility.

One of the biggest takeaways that I have had from this project is that protecting the environment and advocating for it is 80% composed of solely paying attention to our surroundings. I have driven past this facility countless times, but I have never taken the time to notice the damage to my local environment.

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I have seen this trend with multiple other projects with which my supervisor is involved, so many of the sites he investigates are in my backyard throughout the city of Greenville. If I want to advocate for the environment and make a change within my local community, then I must open my eyes and pay attention.

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