The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has agreed to give Berkeley County a $2 million grant to clean up an abandoned waste tire site.
DHEC revoked the waste tire processing permit and imposed a civil penalty of $1,647,372 against VIVA Recycling of South Carolina LLC (VIVA MC) for repeated violations at its Moncks Corner waste tire processing facility.
VIVA MC was granted a permit in February 2013 to process up to 99,000 passenger tire equivalents (PTEs).
On June 17, 2015, DHEC issued an order including a $12,000 penalty to be paid by December 31, 2015 for operational issues including improper storage of waste tires, lack of fire lanes, and size of tire piles.
No improvement was found during eight inspections between September 2015 and January 2016, and the overall number of tires had grown to an estimated 220,000 PTEs.
On January 11, 2016, DHEC ordered VIVA MC to stop accepting tires. The company appealed to the DHEC Board, which rejected the appeal on February 5, 2016. VIVA MC then appealed to the S.C. Administrative Law Court (ALC), effectively barring enforcement of the order. During this time, the tire pile grew to approximately 290,000 and operational conditions worsened.
An ALC hearing was held September 22-23, 2016. On October 10, 2016, a DHEC inspection noted that a fire had damaged the facility and shut off the electrical power. In addition, the facility was closed while an arson investigation was conducted.
In 12 additional inspections between October 20, 2016 and April 11, 2017, the facility remained without power and out of compliance.
On April 17, 2017, VIVA MC agreed to a settlement requiring cleanup of excess tires at the facility, mosquito control, and payment of a combined $52,500 penalty and establishment of additional financial assurance to cover excess tires at the site.
On May 8, 2017, DHEC issued a demand letter for the $52,000 penalty for failure to meet the terms of the agreement. On June 12, 2017, VIVA MC failed to establish the required additional financial assurance of $215,000.
An inspection on June 21, 2017 found the facility locked and unattended. The inspection noted that the facility remained largely as it had been since power was lost at the site and that no efforts had been made to reduce the number of tires.
On June 29, 2017, DHEC took steps to revoke VIVA MC's permit and take other enforcement actions. After a conference with the company's representative on June 30, 2017, an administrative order (AO) was issued revoking the permit and forcing closure of the facility. The AO was effective on September 14, 2017.
On September 14, 2017, DHEC revoked the operating permit for VIVA MC and removed the company from the Waste Tire Rebate List. DHEC also sent a Violations and Final Demand letter to VIVA MC demanding compliance with the AO. VIVA MC did not reply.
On November 8, 2017, DHEC filed a Summons and Complaint with the circuit court to demand compliance with the AO to clean-up the site and pay all outstanding penalties.
On February 6, 2018, an Order for Default Judgment was signed by the circuit court ordering VIVA MC to fully comply with the AO within thirty (30) days and pay all outstanding penalties in the amount of $1,699,372.00. VIVA MC has not complied with the Order for Default Judgment.
On May 3, 2018, Berkeley County requested a grant from DHEC to contract for the removal of waste tires at the VIVA MC site. On May 15, 2018, a grant agreement between DHEC and Berkeley County became effective and, on May 17, 2018, the county issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the removal of waste tires at the VIVA MC site. The county expects to announce the name of the selected contractor not later than July 1.