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McMaster seeks to protect port from USS Yorktown pollution

Associated Press / Reporting for America

COLOMBIA — The nation’s ninth-busiest port is at risk of being polluted by more than 100,000 gallons of fuel from a Navy aircraft carrier that served in World War II and the Vietnam War before it was decommissioned and its designation as a National Historic Landmark.

The USS Yorktown – located in Charleston Harbor – is experiencing continuous corrosion on its outer hull. If hazardous materials seep into the port, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster warned it would harm commercial shipping and harm the ecosystem.

McMaster – who backed environmental protections in office but failed to win the endorsement of conservation groups in his 2018 gubernatorial bid – took steps on Monday to minimize that risk.

Speaking at the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum in Mount Pleasant, the Republican governor announced an executive order directing the state’s Office of Resilience to study the cost of remediation efforts and remove the 140,000 gallons of fuel from the USS Yorktown.

The carrier also picked up the crew and spacecraft from Apollo 8 in 1968 after the first human mission to the moon.

“It’s a special place for a lot of reasons,” McMaster said at a news conference Monday afternoon. “He has been entrusted to us. And we need to make sure he continues to thrive.”

U.S. Representative Nancy Mace of South Carolina called the action “a victory for our community” and “for the environment.”

Two of the substances found on the ship are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and polychlorinated biphenyls, according to Robert Boyles Jr., director of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. These two substances are not soluble in water. If they aren’t removed, Boyles said they could build up in the sediment and stay at the bottom of Charleston Harbor “for a long time.”

Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie, an ex-officio board member of the Patriots Point Development Authority, said the executive order would protect the state’s coastline as well as its seafood and seafood industries. tourism.

“When you pick up a piece of grass or a twig, you realize you’re connected to the entire universe,” Haynie said, paraphrasing naturalist John Muir. “Anything on this ship, indeed, can negatively affect the entire universe.”