A professor who has researched PCB contamination in Hartwell Lake’s tributaries soon will begin a leadership role that is expected to shine a light on Clemson University’s environmental engineering and Earth sciences program. Cindy Lee has won election to the board of directors for the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors. She begins her three-year term in September. The Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors, a private nonprofit founded in 1963, has more than 800 members in universities worldwide. Lee’s position as a board member is expected to help enhance Clemson’s reputation in the field, helping recruit top faculty and students.
Lee has had students in the lab this summer, examining how PCBs in sediment spread through the ecosystem. Even after plants, insects and animals die, PCBs remain in the environment, she said. Students have been taking samples from Town Creek, where about 200 tons of PCBs were discharged from 1955 to 1978, Lee said. Town Creek flows to Twelve Mile Creek, which empties into Hartwell Lake. While the contamination has been diluted, Lee said she remains concerned about pregnant women and small children who would eat fish from Town Creek, Twelve Mile Creek and Hartwell Lake. PCBs have shown strong evidence of causing hearing problems and diminished IQ in children.