Weeks after we first reported it and years after the trouble began, Federal and State authorities are now working together to put out the giant debris pile on fire in Jasper County.
Late Monday afternoon, crews contracted by the EPA and DHEC began digging into the giant Jasper County trash pile.
Excavators began pulling out burned rubble as they shot water on the smoldering holes left behind.
The EPA is now in charge of the entire situation after signs of the toxic chemical Acrolein was found in air quality tests.
Acrolein can be toxic to people who breathe it in or if it gets into their skin. Small particles can be inhaled and get into the lungs.
The air tests did show no asbestos signs coming off the pile.
The EPA has already put out 8 different air quality monitors in the area as the excavation and firefighting continues.
Results of the soil and water quality tests in our area were also revealed Monday.
“There are no human contact threats with the surface water surrounding the area, but we will take care of looking at all the surrounding issues,” explains Mark Huyser, EPA on-scene coordinator.”
On-scene coordinator Mark Huyser says the biggest concern is the smoke in the air.
“What we want the community to be aware of is the smoke coming off the pile because it is not just affecting the residents that have been displaced or the businesses that are nearby but its observed and affects the community at large,” explains Huyser.
A new issue for Able Contracting, who owns the pile, is a pair of lawsuits by neighbors and businesses in the area.
Each one claims negligence by the site’s owner Chandler Lloyd and claims lost revenue, personal injury and decreased property values as a result of the pile.
The process to stop the potentially toxic smoke will take weeks to finish. That means folks who lived nearby and are currently evacuated, will have even more time before they can return home and know its safe.
Jasper County is currently paying for hotels for about 25 evacuees through Thursday. Federal officials plan to take over the evacuation and location if Jasper County does not have the capability of continuing the temporary housing.
“We are going to deal with the fire,” says Huyser. “We are going to make sure the conditions for the fire to restart are no longer there. and we will deal with the surface water and well water well as part of the overall project,”
The EPA does not believe businesses in the area will have to be evacuated because the heaviest and most dangerous smoke is usually in the late evenings or early mornings.
The EPA plan is to take care of the fire and then get the pile out so everyone can get back to regular life at work and their homes.