Owner of burning trash site agrees to close facility

Owner of burning trash site agrees to close facility
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)

RIDGELAND, SC. (WTOC) - A debris recycling center on fire in Jasper County will close its doors.

Able Contracting on Schinger Avenue has been burning since the end of June, and at one point forced the evacuation of nearby residents after toxic gases were detected in the area.

In a letter released by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), the owner of Able Contracting agreed to close the business because he is unable to comply with the state’s Solid Waste Act. No firm date has been set, and owner Chandler Lloyd did not provide a plan for how he will close the site but agreed to provide details after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and DHEC are done working there.

Over the past several weeks, more than 3,000 truckloads of debris have been removed from the site in an effort to contain the fire, according to the latest daily update by DHEC.

The size of the pile nicknamed by neighbors as “Mount Trashmore” at one point grew taller than the telephone poles. It’s angered those who live and work nearby. Many complained to the state for years before the debris pile caught fire earlier this year.

The fire happened after a 2018 change to the Solid Waste Act required the owner to apply for a solid waste permit. A WTOC investigation showed how state officials allowed the facility to operate until it obtained proper permits. Prior to that, the facility operated under an exemption in the law.

The fire received attention from South Carolina State Sen. Tom Davis (R-District 46) and U.S. Congressman Joe Cunningham (D-SC-District 1) who have promised to provide the funding needed to clean up the site.

So far, DHEC says it has spent $275,000 removing debris from the site. That’s not counting the EPA’s cost to date. As of the end of August, the EPA had spent about $500,000.

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