OKATIE, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina sued the owner of a site where a massive pile of trash burned and smoldered for months, demanding $5 million to pay back what the state spent to put out the fire and clean up the site.
Able Contracting Inc. and Earlbee LLC accumulated debris in a mound that reached over 50 feet (15 meters) tall and when the compacted trash started to burn, “hazardous substances, pollutants, and contaminants” were released into the environment, according to the lawsuit obtained by The Island Packet of Hilton Head.
The site in Jasper County, nicknamed Mount Trashmore for the way it loomed over the surrounding neighborhood, began burning in July 2019. It took the state Department of Health and Environmental Control and the federal Environmental Protection Agency six months to completely extinguish the fire and clean the site, the lawsuit filed Thursday said.
Able Contracting’s owner, Chandler Lloyd, did not respond to the newspaper’s attempts to contact him.
The state and federal governments spent more than $5 million cleaning up the site, the lawsuit said.
State Sen. Tom Davis urged the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office to sue so taxpayers could be reimbursed for the clean up.
The Beaufort Republican thanked health officials “for having taken swift action to completely clean up and shut down this facility, and for now seeking to make the taxpayers whole,” according to the Hilton Head Island newspaper.
The neighborhood around the trash fire was evacuated for two months after health officials found several chemicals, including arsenic, in hazardous levels in the air.