RIDGELAND, S.C. (WTOC) - UPDATE: The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says they have issued an order for the company to stop all operations that aren’t relating to putting out the fire.
The massive pile of debris at Able Contracting Incorporated has been burning for days. The emergency order DHEC says in part:
“A fire at the Able facility has created an imminent and substantial danger to human health and the environment..."
UPDATE: According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHECS), the Able Contracting Inc. site is still testing ‘OK’ for air quality as it continues to smolder.
In an email on Friday, they said, “In general, smoke from an uncontrolled fire (e.g. campfire, wildfire or other type of fire) can result in increased amounts of particulates and other chemicals in the air. This can be a nuisance even for healthy people, but it can also make some pre-existing health conditions, like asthma and some heart or lung conditions, worse. DHEC is encouraging anyone who experiences symptoms to seek advice from their normal health care provider.”
They are recommending that people avoid spending extended time outside. DHECS is encouraging people in the area to avoid running, walking, yard work or other outdoor activities if there is smoke.
If you start coughing or have tightness in the chest, contact the doctor.
They added that with this type of fire, will likely continue to burn, even if you can’t SEE the flames.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is helping with air, soil and water samples. Jasper County Emergency Management has also been brought in to assist.
DHECS has an air quality sensor that gives real-time data. You can track it yourself here.
A 45-foot pile of waste has been burning since Wednesday and was dubbed ‘Mount Trashmore’ by neighbors. It’s a source of contention in Ridgeland.
“You go into this business thinking everyone would love what you’re doing, because the whole intention is recycling and keeping it out of the landfill, creating jobs, and at one point there was about 40 people here,” said Chandler Lloyd, Owner, Able Contracting, INC.
He’s down to “five or six” employees now.
Lloyd said they take the debris that is currently a heaping pile and recycle it, but currently, it’s on fire.
“It’s just become unbearable, and I don’t know what they’re going to do with it, but, huh, looks like a mess to me,” said Carina Curiel, a neighbor who lives down the street from the site.
“I feel bad for my neighbors," Lloyd told WTOC. "I feel really bad for my neighbors, and now it’s been beyond our control with the negative publicity. We don’t have the resources now.”
It’s not a pretty sight, and the pile has been smoldering for some time, but since Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning, there have been flames, which Lloyd suspects is from lightning. The Jasper County Fire Department has responded twice this week.
Neighbors say they’re worried about long-term health effects from the smoke and stench.
“Our throats stay sore, my eyes are like, puffy every morning. It’s terrible,” Curiel added.
Lloyd says there is no hazardous material in the pile.
“We do not take any household garbage. We do not take any medical waste or any hazardous materials, and anything that you see in that pile, 99.9 percent of the time, it was used building a house and it was a leftover and a scrap.”
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, or DHECS, said via email, “The Department has an air sensor near the site to detect fine particulate matter, the size consistent with smoke particles, in the area. The sensor provides concentration data every 15 minutes. While we’ve seen levels above background levels, there haven’t been any readings that exceed the 24-hour health-based standard for fine particulate matter established by the EPA.”
For now, the feud between the owner and the neighbors burns on.
“You used to have neighbors that you waved at going down the road, and some of them will wave at you now and some of them- instead of a full flock- they’ll give you one,” Lloyd said.
DHECS also said, “This facility has coverage under the Industrial Stormwater General Permit. DHEC staff have been to the site and we are continuing to evaluate discharges from the facility. Samples have been taken and that data is currently being reviewed.”