Silfab Solar Trying To Overrule Zoning Board To Force High-Capacity Factory in Fort Mill

Silfab Solar Trying To Overrule Zoning Board To Force High-Capacity Factory in Fort Mill


Picture of Silfab facility in Fort Mill taken on 6/14/2024

Silfab Solar is continuing to move forward with their massive factory in the heart of Fort Mill in spite of being rejected by the York County board and fierce opposition from Fort Mill residents.

In an interview with The Herald published today, Silfab COO Treff MacDonald said, “We 100% expect that project to deliver on time, which includes product out of this facility end of the year”.

On 5/9/2024, after hearing comments from over 50 residents, the York County Board of Zoning Appeals voted unanimously to reverse the designation of allowing the Silfab Solar Factory to be built in a light industrial zoned area next to 2 schools.

Silfab released the following statement after the decision by the board:

“Silfab Solar is disappointed in the York County board of zoning appeals decision of May 9. We are reviewing the community comments from the public forum and are waiting for an official letter of determination. This was not a final determination, and we are exploring the various options that will lead to a resolution.”

Silfab also released a press release dated May 20th (11 days after the council voted against them), in which they state the following (here’s a saved pdf version of the article):

“…Silfab’s main N-type cell manufacturing at its new South Carolina facility.”

“Silfab’s newest factory in South Carolina will soon add 1 gigawatt American-made cell production and another 1.3 gigawatts of module production.”

Fort Mill residents have been protesting the factory primarily due to its use of high quantities of several dangerous chemicals that would come out of a 70-foot-tall “scrubber stack”.

According to South Carolina’s DHEC, these are the most alarming chemicals that would be used at the new plant:

  • Toluene: The plant plans to use 132 gallons per year of Toluene, a DHEC Category 3 pollutant, which is the most hazardous class. Toluene can cause death or permanent injury after brief exposure to small quantities, and an undisclosed amount is stored on-site.
  • Hydrogen Fluoride (HF): The plant plans on storing 15,850 gallons of Hydrogen Fluoride in two tanks, with weekly refills. HF is classified as a DHEC Category 3 pollutant. The release of HF, even below the concentration limit, requires a mandatory ½ mile evacuation.
  • Silane: The plant would use a 22,983-gallon tank filled with this chemical. Silane is a highly flammable and toxic gas that could explode on contact with air.

This is what it looks like if a tiny amount of Silane combusts when exposed to air:

The plant’s proximity to two new schools off Gold Hill Road raises significant safety concerns, with an emergency protocol suggesting a minimum one-mile evacuation radius for spills or leaks.

silfab solar fort mill
Photo via Palmetto State Watch

What do you think about Silfab’s proposed factory? 

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