EPA to hold community meeting at Okatie Elementary regarding trash fire

EPA to hold community meeting at Okatie Elementary regarding trash fire

BEAUFORT CO, S.C. (WTOC) - UPDATE: Monday marked the first day of school for students in Beaufort County.

At Okatie Elementary, students will not have outdoor recess for the time being. It’s a precautionary measure due to a trash pile that’s burning about a mile away at the Able Contracting site in Jasper County. The school posted on its Facebook page that air particulate levels monitored by a rooftop sensor generally remain very low.

The Environmental Protection Agency will hold a meeting Tuesday night at 7 p.m. to present the latest information about the trash fire, as well as answer questions. It will take place in the school’s multipurpose room.

The site is four acres, and as of last year, Able Contracting reported to the state that there were more than 11,000 tons of debris on the site. Those details are from records released to WTOC by South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

On August 12th, the state took over management of the site to help extinguish the fire. Preliminary numbers showed it has removed 164 truck loads of debris. That amounts to about 15 percent of the pile.

You might be wondering who is going to pay for all of this. In a statement released Monday, South Carolina State Senator Tom Davis said Able Contracting will.

He went on to say, that DHEC and EPA, “will only remove waste until the pile reaches the non-combustible level, so the larger question of a complete cleanup of the site remains.”

Sen. Davis’ full statement is below:


The Beaufort County School District said in a statement on Sunday that students and faculty at Okatie Elementary will begin the new school year after an air-quality test found low particulate levels from a smoldering trash pile nearby.

The Environmental Protection Agency says a low level of hydrogen cyanide, a potentially deadly gas, was detected near a burning trash pile in Jasper County. The pile sits near Okatie Elementary, prompting air-quality tests ahead of students return to class on Monday.

The school says that outdoor recess will not be held but will resume following continued air-quality control tests.

Click here to monitor the air-quality in real time.

Read more about the trash pile in Jasper County below.

Copyright 2019 WTOC. All rights reserved.