Berkeley County agrees to purchase, shut down GenEarth facility

BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Berkeley County officials reached an agreement to purchase and shut down the GenEarth facility.

County Council approved the agreement at Monday night's council meeting, according to Berkeley County spokesperson Michael Mulè.

GenEarth's facility converts organic waste into renewable resources, but an odor from its by-product has had neighbors upset for months.

"We are just so thankful," Daniel Barb, who lives across from the plant, said. "I can't express how thankful we are."

The $2.4 million agreement calls for the removal of the remaining sludge from the site and also ensures no more sludge from the facility will be spread on agricultural fields across the county, Mulè said.

"They have to basically flush the system out so that way they can put it into an inactive status," Berkeley County Supervisor Bill Peagler added.

That money comes out of the county's water department.

The plant has 90 days to get the area cleaned-up.

"Things should smell a lot better then," Peagler said.

"It was such a life changing experience, you know, living across the street from this place," Barb added. "This is a great thing that they do. However putting it here in a residential community was the worst thing they could have done."

"GenEarth was built as a word class bio gas facility in order to bring renewable energy to Berkeley County," spokesman R. Laurin Burch said in a statement. "With time, we learned the location of our facility was less than ideal for a variety of reasons preventing us from achieving our desired results. Thus, we entered into a mutually beneficial agreement with Berkeley County that we felt was in the best interests of the community and our investors."

A spokesman for GenEarth said late Tuesday the shutdown would impact roughly eight to 10 employees.

"I don't want to see anyone lose their jobs, however they can complain to the people who decided to put this place across the street from my house and in this residential community," Barb.

Burch said GenEarth has no plans for a future site at this time.

County officials also say plans for that location are still up in the air.

"With this agreement in place, our engineers can now establish the best use of the facilities – keeping the health, well-being and quality of life of Berkeley County residents at the forefront of their decision making," Berkeley County Supervisor Bill Peagler said in a statement.

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