BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is working with Berkeley County officials in cleanup efforts at a defunct recycling site which houses tens of thousands of tires.
DHEC officials say they will be working with the county to develop a proposal to hire a contractor to clean up the site at the abandoned VIVA Recycling site in Moncks Corner.
Last year, DHEC revoked the company's permit because inspectors found that they were breaking a lot of rules.
On Tuesday, Gov. Henry McMaster wrote a letter to DHEC calling the tires a serious environmental and public health risk.
DHEC responded, saying it will coordinate with Berkeley County to help find a way for the tires to be removed.
According to officials, VIVA recycling was granted a permit in 2013 to process up to 99,000 passenger tires.
Two years later, DHEC issued a $12,000 penalty citing improper storage of waste tires, lack of fire lanes and the sizes of the tire piles.
A report states that during several inspections between September 2015 and January 2016 there were no improvements, and the overall number of tires had grown to 220,000.
The company was then ordered to stop accepting tires in 2016, however DHEC officials say the tires increased to 290,000 and "operational conditions worsened."
A fire in October 2016 then damaged the facility and shut off power.
According to DHEC, 12 additional inspections between October 2016 and April 2017 found the facility remained without power and was "out of compliance."
In April of 2017, the company agreed to a settlement for cleanup, a $52,000 penalty and the establishment of additional financial assurance to cover excess tires at the site. Officials with DHEC say on May 8, 2017, the department issued a demand letter for the penalty fee 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," a report states.
DHEC say crews made an inspection of the site in June of 2017 and 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," DHEC officials stated in a report.
On June 29, 2017, DHEC officials say they took steps to revoke the company's permit and take other enforcement actions which led to the closure of the facility.