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Denmark Cares

c/o Letitia Dowling
91 Wisteria Street
Denmark, SC 29042

January 7, 2019

Office of The Honorable Henry McMaster
Governor of South Carolina
State House
1100 Gervais Street
Columbia, South Carolina 29201

CC: Representative Bamberg, Senator Hutto, Senator Matthews, Senator Scott, The Honorable Alan
Wilson, Representative Clyburn, Representative John C. King, Representative Govan, David Wilson (via
email and/or certified mail)

Dear Governor McMaster,

Denmark Cares is a coalition of residents impacted, or potentially impacted, by water quality
issues in Denmark South Carolina seeking means to form partnerships with our government and
state agencies for progress within our community. We joined together to advocate for a solution
to our water quality issues and renew the community’s trust in our public water supply. It was
worrisome to all residents when news was released in November about the use of HaloSan in one
of our public water supply wells. HaloSan is not registered under the Environmental Protection
Agency’s Pesticides Program (FIFRA) nor as approved water treatment technique. HaloSan was
used to disinfect Denmark’s drinking water for a decade before Clemson University ordered state
regulators to enforce the town to stop using HaloSan. In 2006, environmental regulators barred
the use of HaloSan in North Carolina due to potentially cancer-causing byproducts. The town has
discontinued the use of HaloSan, but many residents refuse to drink the water that runs from the
tap. More citizens are refusing to use the public water supply due to treatment by this chemical
and discolored water as a result of Denmark’s severe issues with iron bacteria and aging water
infrastructure.

We are anxious to make our priorities known and solicit your support along with our state
representatives, senators and state agencies. Our community is very disappointed by the failures
to give us immediate and clear information about our drinking water, how to protect our families,
and provide real solutions to our water quality issues. We hope that you can bring new and
strong leadership on this urgent matter and support us to obtain for water that has quality in
appearance and safety, as all South Carolinians deserve.

You, along with other staff are invited to come to our community to see how we have been living
and hear from some residents who have been impacted by the water quality issues in Denmark of
most recent news and the issues that have lingered for more almost a decade.
Some of the priorities shared with our coalition by our community include:
• Decisions made by the administration must be based on all of these factors- science,
safety, and considerations of environmental justice. Three census population statistics clearly
help to identify Denmark’s water quality issue as an environmental justice issue. The South
Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control states that historically throughout SC,
overburdened communities have experienced higher levels of environmental pollution within
their community along with other social and economic burdens. The Department also states that
its vision is that all South Carolinians, regardless of race, age, culture, income, or geographic
location, are protected from environmental and health hazards and are afforded accessibility to,
and fair treatment in, our decision-making processes to enhance all aspects of our quality of life.
The city of Denmark, SC has the highest percentage of African Americans among the state’s
cities and towns. Denmark’s African American population is around 86%, with a total minority
population percentage of 89%. Denmark’s minority population percentage is a staggering 55%
higher than the South Carolina state average of 34%. Denmark’s low-income population
percentage soars around 62%, while the state average is 38%. People who live below the poverty
line may live in housing with leaks, unsealed windows, and compromised water supplies, all of
which are factors that can increase residents’ exposure to harmful toxins. Denmark’s population
percentage with less than a high diploma is 26%, nearly double the state average of 14%. This is
a potential indicator that Denmark unreasonably lacks community based experts in public health
and environmental law when compared to other towns across the state. Therefore the town of
Denmark is disproportionately disadvantaged when compared to the populations and available
resources to other towns and cities across our great state.

• SC agencies, elected leaders, and town officials must recognize the examples of
environmental injustice which exist around Denmark’s water quality issues, and view all
policy decisions through a lens of environmental justice. We also ask that you appoint an
independent advisory council of experts to provide recommendations through a lens of
environmental justice to the town of Denmark as we strive toward a solution. Given the
environmental justice implications of Denmark’s population, it would only be reasonable to
provide independent oversight, technical assistance, financial advice, and counsel to the town
and its residents until Denmark’s water infrastructure and water quality issues are resolved to
help lead the town of Denmark, South Carolina to its greatest potential for generations to come!

• Although the town of Denmark has discontinued the use of HaloSan, more investigation
and action is needed. Although DHEC and town officials say the water supply is safe,
sufficient scientific data has NOT been shared to support this claim. It is questionable of what
standards are being used to determine the safety of Denmark’s water considering HaloSan was
unregistered and not approved by EPA as a standard water treatment. We ask for more advice
from the EPA to determine the appropriate standards for measuring water quality with the use of
an unregistered and unapproved product for water treatment of a public water system.
Some households still report brown or rusty water coming from their taps and discolored
clothing when doing laundry. Many who refuse to drink their tap water rely solely on bottled
water which has created an extra burden on the daily routine and finances of many families in
Denmark. Experts have stated that our water infrastructure is in very poor condition and the iron
bacteria is still an ongoing problem in the system. State agencies should investigate the full
extent of the harm from HaloSan and iron bacteria from a public health perspective. A health
study and environmental impact analysis could provide some level of detail about potential
health impacts on the community.

• We oppose the use of unregulated disinfectant products like HaloSan in drinking water;
our Coalition demands solutions that approved by the EPA and do not continue to threaten
public health and harm our community. SCDHEC should be required to only use EPA
approved disinfectants for drinking water systems. In the event that an innovative (unapproved)
disinfectant product is used in a South Carolina drinking water system, the community that
drinks the water should have a seat at the table during the initial decision making process to use
such innovative products. We request that you require that SCDHEC along with the city provide
immediate communications to citizens about the decisions, regulations and corrective actions for
the past decisions that did not include citizen input and participation.

• There are an increasing number of creative partnerships that are working and advocating
toward solutions. We hope that we can work with your leadership as an example of South
Carolina leading the way to prioritize the health and safety of disadvantaged communities
with the right permanent solution to Denmark’s water quality issues. While we applaud
SCDHEC for coming to Denmark and working collaboratively with us to address questions and
concerns from the community, we would like impacted community members at the table to
strategize how we can help addressing any health concerns resulting from use of HaloSan and
fixing our aging infrastructure and iron bacteria problems. We believe that through strategic
collaborations with our local universities and agencies, we can begin to properly address water
quality issues together that has had an impact on many families in the community, the economics
and the image of Denmark. The ReGenesis project in Spartanburg County is a great example of
how South Carolinians working together can truly revitalize a community through an
environmental justice lens. The many partnerships and collaborations of ReGenesis brought
considerable funding to the area, leveraging more than $250 million for reinvestment and
development opportunities that benefited both residents and their industry neighbors while
resolving the contamination issue in the community. A demonstration of a similar effort in the
Lowcountry with a small town such as Denmark would set a strong example of partnerships with
state and communities to solve environmental concerns while bridging economical gaps.

We hope that we can speak with you and other leaders about finding safe, permanent methods to
solve Denmark’s water quality and development issues. With your leadership, together we can
learn from the mistakes of the past and move forward into the future as a positive example of
small community collaborations with government to build healthy and viable communities
across South Carolina for generations to come.

We thank your time and attention with this request and look forward to hearing back from you
and meeting with you soon.

Sincerely,
Denmark Cares
Contact person: Letitia Dowling, resident Denmark, SC
letitiadowling@gmail.com
803-780-0323