DHEC issues emergency order for smelly, smoking trash pile in Lowcountry

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DHEC says Ridgeland site is an "imminent and substantial danger" to people in the area

RIDGELAND, S.C. (WSAV) – It could be the end to a years-long battle between the company that oversees a giant pile of smoking debris and the people who live near it.

South Carolina environmental officials have issued an “emergency order” demanding Able Contracting stop operations and remove what officials say is a smelly and potentially dangerous eyesore.

The giant trash pile in Jasper County has been declared an “imminent and substantial danger” to the people who live and work nearby.

That’s the official word from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and now they are cracking down on the owners.

“It’s about time. we’ve been waiting a long time for our voices to be heard,” said Teresa Forrest, from Forrest Concrete which is next door to the pile.

Neighbors and business are thankful that finally something is being done about the smelly, smoking giant debris pile they have next door.

“It got through the cracks somehow or another. But it got too big and I think it should have been monitored a lot closer,” said Buddy Howze of Southern Automotive.

DHEC did monitor the air quality the past week, which found on four different days levels of “fine particulate matter” registered as high as 16 times the Environmental Protection Agency safe standards.

That’s part of the reason why the agency issued an emergency order late Wednesday. It calls the smoke and fire coming from the pile an “emergency requiring immediate action to protect public health.”

DHEC issued an order that Able Contracting “immediately cease operations” at the site and monitor the smoke and fire 24 hours a day.

Chandler Lloyd, Able Contracting’s owner, now has 72 hours to create and begin implementing a plan to limit the smoke and for the “complete extinguishment of the fire.”

Folks in this area have been dealing with the smell and potentially dangerous site for five years or more. They are thankful a plan is now in place, but they still wonder why it took this long for something to be done.

“I’m just going to have to cross my fingers and hope that they do make this right,” said Howze. “It is going to take a long time to move that pile, I know that, and hopefully it’s not going to affect my business.”

“I worry about the health of my employees myself and my neighbors,” said Forrest. “The effects of what we have been breathing in for the last 5 or so years may not show up for another 10-15-20 years. and then what, what will be our recourse then?”

Able Contracting has 48 hours to find a company specializing in fires to set up a plan to deal with the smoke and also completely extinguish the fire.

That plan must be put in place in 72 hours or else legal action could be taken, which could include time behind bars.

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