Governor asks DHEC to clean up abandoned tire site

May 5, 2018, 1:13 pm EST | Share:

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Gov. Henry McMaster on Wednesday asked South Carolina health officials to clean up hundreds of thousands of tires from an abandoned recycling center.

In a letter to Department of Health and Environmental Control Chairman Mark Elam, McMaster wrote that the tires “pose a serious environmental and public health risk” to residents living nearby, the Post and Courier of Charleston reports.

To pay for the cleanup, McMaster proposed that officials give Berkeley County money from a state fund to pay for the cleanup of the Viva Recycling site. The fund gets money from a $2 fee that consumers pay for every new tire purchased in South Carolina.

In February, DHEC obtained a $1.7 million judgment against the company for unpaid fines for the facility, which was shut down by regulators last year. State officials have said that the site is an environmental and health threat because the tires could catch fire and are a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

By the end of 2015, DHEC estimated that the Moncks Corner site had at least 222,000 tires. In his letter, McMaster cited estimates that 600,000 to 800,000 tires may now be in the pile.

“The sheer magnitude of environmental damage and hazard to air quality created by these giant tire piles catching fire might very well devastate the pristine ecosystem of the South Carolina low country for generations to come,” McMaster wrote.

DHEC officials haven’t said how much they think it will cost to remove and dispose of the tires and clean up the site. In a similar situation in Florida, that state’s environmental agency put the cost at between $3 and $4 per tire.

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