Lowcountry trash pile angering, potentially sickening neighbors

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RIDGELAND, S.C. (WSAV) – A huge trash pile more than 60 feet tall is making some who live and work in Jasper County sick to their stomachs.

Neighbors say they’re simply tired of seeing and smelling the massive trash heap on Schinger Avenue which is actually supposed to be recyclable construction debris.

“It’s pretty foul. I don’t know what it is, but I don’t like it,” says Donnie Schnorr, who works near the pile.

In 2015, the pile caught fire and it took 31 hours for firefighters to extinguish.

“Every morning there is smoke coming out of that pile and it is a foul smell,” said Schnorr. “It’s pretty thick, it is pretty thick. You kind of want to get in and get out…We get our stuff and get out of here.”

The pile is on the property of Able Contracting, and it continues to grow, according to neighbors. That’s despite a sign on the property that promises “85% of this material is recycled and kept out of a landfill.”

News 3 did watch a truck full of logs go into the site Tuesday, but pictures from local business owners also show garbage trucks and porta potty vehicles going in and out regularly.

“It’s disgusting. It ain’t garbage but its construction, and there’s no telling what’s in that stuff,” said Schnorr. “It’s some sort of chemical smell to me. and it will gag you.”

At least one business News 3 talked to says they’ve had to allow someone to work from home because of the physical effects caused by the smell. They are also worried about the environmental effect from the thousands of gallons of water Able Contracting is using to wet the pile and stop any more fires.

A drone picture shows a nearby retaining pond that appears to be taking runoff from the site. It shows a large brown area that looks like dirt, but it’s actually the surface of the water.

Neighbors say they wouldn’t mind a true recycling plant — they just don’t want a foul-smelling 60-foot tall health hazard hovering over them.

“What would you do if they got rid of it?” News 3 asked.

“I’d love it. It would be great. I think everyone around here would love it actually,” a neighbor said.

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) officials are investigating the eyesore. They sent a letter to Able Contracting to stop bringing in any more materials as of the beginning of July.

Owners were able to file an injunction to allow the company to keep accepting trucks until a future hearing.

DHEC investigators were on the scene Tuesday looking into the stormwater runoff issues, if there are any, from the giant pile.

News 3 tried to talk to someone from Able Construction, but they did not have any comment on the pile or their neighbors’ complaints.

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