Philip Services Corporation - Historical Timeline

Philip Services Corporation Community Meeting

DHEC is hosting a meeting to formally accept comments on the proposed legal settlement that identifies those responsible for funding and cleanup of soil/groundwater contamination at the former ThermalKEM Site on May 3, 2022 at 6:00 PM at the Oakdale Elementary School Cafeteria (1129 Oakdale Road - Rock Hill, SC)  All comments made during the meeting will be recorded by a court reporter. 

- Philip Services Corporation Community Meeting Presentation - May 3, 2022
- Agenda

DHEC has also extended the period to accept written comments on the settlement until May 6, 2022. See the Community Engagement page for information on how to submit comments.

Date Description
Late 1960s  Industrial Chemical Company, Inc. and Quality Drum Company, Inc. (operating on separate property parcels) received waste solvents from other facilities. These operators stored the solvents in drums and tanks and recovered solvents through distillation. Wastes that were left after the distillation process (called still bottoms) were sent to a local landfill. 
1981  A hazardous waste incinerator was installed to treat still bottoms (distillation waste). The facility also began to process a broader variety of waste streams. 
12/1982  Quality Drum and Industrial Chemical merged. 
06/1983  Stablex South Carolina, Inc. acquired all four parcels of the facility property. At that time, approximately 26,000 drums of waste and 200,000 gallons of bulk liquid waste were stored onsite. 
1986  American NuKEM Corporation purchased the stock of Stablex. 
11/1986  Stablex South Carolina, Inc. began operating under the assumed name of ThermalKEM, Inc. ThermalKEM operated as a hazardous waste incinerator and storage facility under RCRA interim status (EPA I.D. No. SCD044442333). 
11/1995  Philip Services Corporation (PSC) purchased the stock of Stablex/ThermalKEM and its subsidiary, Petro-Chem, and took over operation and management of the facility. 
12/1995  PSC ceased operation of the hazardous waste incinerator. However, PSC continued to operate the facility as a fuel blending, storage, and transfer facility until 1999. During the years of operation, the facility sustained two large structural fires. 
1998  PSC submitted an incinerator closure plan. 
06/2003  PSC filed for bankruptcy protection. 
12/2003  DHEC assumed environmental management responsibilities. As part of the bankruptcy action, a custodial trust account (approximately $4.3 million) was established to provide some funding for environmental activities. It was determined that the funds in the custodial trust account would be inadequate to complete any remedy. DHEC began initial investigation and cleanup activities, including taking over operation of the groundwater treatment system. 
2004  DHEC demolished the former incinerator building and filled an open excavation adjacent to the building. DHEC also initiated a remedial investigation, which included several phases to determine the source, nature, and extent of soil and groundwater contamination. DHEC installed more than 50 groundwater monitoring wells and conducted comprehensive sampling. DHEC began identifying potentially responsible parties (PRPs). 
2005  DHEC upgraded the groundwater treatment system to make if more efficient and cost effective. 
09/2008  DHEC issued its Remedial Investigation Report. The findings identified extensive areas of soil and groundwater contamination. 
07/2011  DHEC completed a Feasibility Study that evaluated cleanup alternatives. 
08/2014  DHEC identified its preferred cleanup alternative in a Proposed Plan for remedial action. 
08/26/2014  DHEC's Proposed Plan meeting. 
06/22/2016  Record of Decision (ROD) completed for the site.  

Since the completion of the Record of Decision (ROD) in 2016, the Department has continued to operate the existing groundwater treatment system, collect additional samples, and manage other environmental activities at the site. 

DHEC also continued negotiations with the Philip Services Site Potentially Responsible Parties Group (PRP Group).  A proposed settlement between DHEC and the PRP Group was reached in 2020 and a public comment period was established. The proposed settlement was withdrawn to allow the United States of America (on behalf of federal agency PRPs) to join in the settlement. The updated settlement between DHEC, the PRP Group, and the United States of America was put on public notice on January 28, 2022. The public comment period was initially scheduled to expire on February 28, 2022, but it was extended to April 29, 2022.