They found arsenic in a Conway lake. Now you can’t fish there

Grainger stacks fall from Lake Busbee perspective

The 300-foot Grainger stacks fall in a controlled explosion in Conway on Feb.7, 2016.
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The 300-foot Grainger stacks fall in a controlled explosion in Conway on Feb.7, 2016.

You’re no longer allowed to fish in Lake Busbee.

The reason? Arsenic and copper, according to the state.

Conway resident Zach Scott said he’s been fishing at the lake between five and 10 times over the past year - but that ended during a trip on Aug. 19.

“We went with the intent of fishing,” Scott said. “As soon as we saw the sign we turned around. I think we ended up at the Market Common to fish.”

A new sign at Lake Busbee prohibits fishing. Courtesy, Zach Scott

The sign in question is fairly new, said Scott, and warns visitors that fishing — along with boating and swimming — is prohibited.

“There were a couple identical signs posted on the road and the path,” Scott said. “I have never seen them before until the past few weeks.”

Older signs did not prohibit fishing.

Old signs at Lake Busbee prohibited boating and swimming, but not fishing. Courtesy, Zach Scott

The lake is the property of state-owned utility company Santee Cooper, and was created to cool the coal-burning Grainger Generating Station that was shut down in 2012 and demolished in 2016.

A declaration of covenants and restrictions dated April 13, 2017, prohibits boating, swimming and fishing at the lake by “adequate signage” and allows Santee Cooper to return the lake to wetlands or turn it over to another entity that could operate it.

The plan was enacted after copper and arsenic were found in the lake’s sediment, said DHEC spokesperson Adrianna Bradley in an email.

Arsenic is a byproduct of burning coal.

The 300-foot tall stacks fall at the Grainger Generation Station in Conway on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. JANET BLACKMON MORGAN jblackmon@thesunnews.com

“Based on some pollutant data in the sediment of the cooling pond and without further risk assessment studies, Santee Cooper agreed to restrict public access to the cooling pond site,” Bradley wrote. “This agreement led DHEC to grant and approval of the closure plan without further study.”

According to the plan, public access will be restricted at the site regardless of it’s future use as a lake or wetlands.

Boardwalks may be constructed to allow the public to enjoy “the scenic nature” of the lake according to the plan, “provided that such a board walk shall not facilitate public access to the water or wetlands for any purpose.”

Scott said he plans to fish more often at the Market Common.

Christian Boschult: 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian