WTOC Investigates: Who will pay to extinguish the burning trash pile in Jasper County?

WTOC Investigates: Who will pay to extinguish the burning trash pile in Jasper County?
An enormous trash pile at Able Contracting continues to burn for weeks. Expenses by local, state and federal officials to extinguish the blaze continue, but earlier this week an elected official made it clear who will pay the bill. (WTOC Drone Footage) (Source: Able Contracting Site Aerial Image)

JASPER COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - The cost continues to grow for a coordinated effort underway to extinguish a burning trash site in Jasper County. It’s caused air quality monitoring by the U.S. Environmental Protection at local elementary school and forced 25 residents from their homes.

But some clarity came this week about who will foot the bill for efforts to extinguish the fire: the owner of Able Contracting, according to South Carolina State Senator Tom Davis.

He made it clear in a statement released Monday, “for that and other costs associated with putting out the fire; however, those agencies will only remove waste until the pile reaches the non-combustible level, so the larger question of a complete cleanup of the site remains.”

There is a joint agreement between the EPA, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), Beaufort and Jasper counties to put out the fire, which began in late June after a lightening strike at the facility. Debris removal by the state began last week.

Here’s a look at what they are up against:

The site is four acres, and as of last year Able Contracting reported there were more than 11,000 tons of debris, according to a permit application submitted last year to the DHEC

On Aug. 12, 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. The work is ongoing, and DHEC has provided continues updates here.

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