On Monday, the city of Darlington started work on cleaning up a smelly ditch on Chalmers street.

A crew of inmates worked removing much of the debris, trees and junk in the ditch.

“We started complaining sometime in March and it took the public to go to the city to have something done,” mentioned Albert Simon, who lives near the ditch.

However, from the minute crews started work to clean out the ditch on Chalmers Street, neighbors made it clear that the city’s work doesn’t necessarily mean a peace of mind.

“They just here to be here.  No, it’s not a good thing because i had been complaining about this thing for years,” said Evelyn Jett, who also lives nearby.

“For some reason, my heart tells me…this ditch is not going to get any better.  I want to know the purpose of the ditch,” added Betty Mack, who lives just beside the ditch.

This weekend, many residents got a letter and map with the city’s plans to clean-up the smelly ditch.

Crews will work from Washington Street and the railroad tracks towards Chalmers Street.

“I want them to get to the bottom of it and don’t stop.  The money has to come from somewhere.  They got money for everything else so they need to get money to try to get this straight,” explained city council member Gloria Hines.

Last week, Hines made claims the Hartsville Oil Mill was the source of the problem.

She claimed that the oil has a leaky pipe that contained E. coli and feces going into the ditch.

However, owner, Edgar Lawton denies that even being the case and says the mill was fined a few years back after high levels of phosphorus was found in the city’s waste water treatment plant.

Lawton says there are no pipes by the ditch from the mill.

“I just wish they would get a little bit more progress.  I see they started but they got a long way to go,” Simon stated.

The city and the oil mill will continue to work to clean-up and find the source of the problem.

When asked, why help with clean-up if it’s not a problem directly from the oil mill, Lawton’s response was, “In hopes of everyone getting along.”

On Thursday, June 25, City engineers at Davis & Brown will perform smoke tests in that neighborhood on all sewer pipes to look for blockages and potential breaks in the system to determine if there has been any sewer intrusion. The City has more than 446,000 linear feet of sewer pipe in its system

Davis & Brown will submit a draft proposal and estimate to clean and grade all the ditches in connection with this part of the City’s drainage system at the July 14th City Council meeting.