RIDGELAND, S.C. (WSAV) – As the giant trash pile in Jasper County continues to burn, the determination of who is at fault for this potential environment mess is just beginning.
Some neighbors are now taking their case to court.
Four lawsuits have already been filed in Jasper County, each one specifically naming Chandler Lloyd, owner of Able Construction, who created the pile.
One of those suits is now going even further, attaching the names of the companies who have been depositing that debris on the pile.
Donald and Patricia Howze filed the class action suit on behalf of themselves and all the neighbors near the trash pile on Schinger Avenue.
“After years of previous complaints, two previous fires and a multitude of code violations, property owners such as Plaintiffs have been irreparably harmed by an enormous toxic pile of garbage and now toxic smoke and potentially harmful contaminants which spew from deep within its bowels,” the lawsuit starts.
It names, among others, Able Contracting as well as Waste Management of South Carolina, Waste Pro of South Carolina, Tropical Trash, Nature’s Calling Inc, and Republic Services of South Carolina, as well as their managers and owners.
The suit blames the companies, by continuing to use the recycling facility despite its known issues “in creating an imminent and substantial danger to human health and the environment requiring the issuance of an Emergency Order by DHEC” and thus “substantially impair(ing) the use and enjoyment of the property of Plaintiffs and Class Members.”
The suit claims Able Contracting was told by Jasper County, once they allowed Nature’s Calling to start using an adjacent site to the pile, they had to build a 40-foot screen around the pile.
That’s something the suit claims was never done:
“The Defendant waste removal companies, as well as Congrove and Perkins individually, knew or should have known that it was dangerous to dump additional solid waste at the Able Contracting Facility given the rapidly expanding size of the debris pile, previous fires, and well-publicized code violations which went unresolved for months and years.”
The large fire on the pile back in April of 2015 took 31 hours and 1.6 million gallons of water to fully extinguish. Lloyd told News 3 the most recent fire was the result of a lightning strike which led to the smoldering of the debris inside the 40-65 foot pile.
It also claims Able Contracting used a loophole in the system to keep bringing in debris and remain exempt from getting a permit.
The facility was supposed to recycle at least 75% in weight of the material it accepts. But the suit says by accepting mixed material, construction debris and demolition debris, Able Contracting was able to meet the requirements by processing “mostly concrete” while “allowing other, more lightweight construction and demolition debris to accumulate.”
The suit continues on to say used that loophole has allowed named parties to “generate enormous financial gains while simultaneously amassing an environmental time bomb that places the Able Contracting Facility’s neighbors at risk.”
The suit adds that the “Defendants have been negligent, grossly negligent, reckless, careless, wanton, and willful” in their decisions and actions.
All the defendants are accused of being “cognizant” of the problems they caused and “recklessly disregarded” the damage it was doing to residents and businesses.
The suit is asking for compensatory and punitive damages from all the companies and people involved in the suit, not just for the Howze’s, but for everyone living within a two-mile radius of the pile, excluding any of the defendants.