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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Environmental groups are suing to force a South Carolina agency to issue a new permit for a pools used to store coal ash.

The suit filed Tuesday by the Southern Environmental Law Center seeks to force the Department of Health and Environmental Control to issue a Clean Water Act permit for the lagoons near Santee Cooper's Grainger Generating Station on the Waccamaw River.

Santee Cooper's permit for the lagoons expired in 2006. Since then, the lawsuit says DHEC has let the plant use old technology that pollutes the river with chemicals including arsenic and mercury.

DHEC said the agency had not been served with the lawsuit. A Santee Cooper spokeswoman said the state-owned utility has filed to renew its permit and has not asked DHEC to delay that process.

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