Darlington residents blame nearby oil mill for smelly ditch

Darlington residents blame nearby oil mill for smelly ditch (Image 1)

When you turn onto Chalmers Street in Darlington, it sure doesn’t take long to notice the smell.

“That stuff stinks…mmm.  It’s bad! I don’t even want to talk it’s so bad,” mention Darlington City Council member Gloria Hines.

“I don’t even sit on my front porch because of it,” added Betty Mack.

For 35 years, Betty and her husband Alvin have lived right beside the smelly ditch.

They say in recent years the odor has gotten worse.  It makes it tough for Betty to use her CPAP breathing therapy at night.

“I need to sleep in it at least 3-4 hours a night,” explained Mack.

“As time goes by its getting worse and the city is not doing what they can do,” said McIver Samuel, who lives just down the street.

According to city officials, the city has been investigating the issue since March, classifying it as storm water issue.

In May, the city said that they started removing large branches, along with cleaning and removing the much of the stagnant water in the ditch.

“The lime is not doing anything but stirring it up,” stated fellow resident Evelyn Jett.

However, Hines and many in the neighborhood believe the source of the problem is from the Hartsville Oil Mill that sits behind them.

“A year and a half ago, Ms. Jett and Sylvester walked the railroad tracks.  We walked the tracks until found this pipe,” she said.

She also said she first reported it to council and claims that the city has been fining the oil mill each month.

Hines claims that at council’s most recent meeting it was reported that spill contained E.coli and feces.

“If you knock on every door in the neighborhood you somebody sick out here and it’s nothing but coming from this ditch,” Jett mentioned.

DHEC is still investigating the issue on their end; however the city just released a statement on Tuesday saying they’ve met with Hartsville Oil Mill.

The mill plans to remove the standing water from the ditch and engineers will also take a closer look to find the cause of the issue.    

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