Inspections continue at Bees Ferry landfill, neighbors raise health concerns

Since October, the landfill located on Bees Ferry Road, continued to fail inspections for controlling litter, application of soil cover and compactors being dow
Published: Feb. 16, 2023 at 4:26 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 16, 2023 at 9:02 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Following a Live 5 Investigation of the Charleston County Landfill, concern over the landfill continues after a Charleston Water System notice and additional South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control inspection.

Since October, the landfill located on Bees Ferry Road, continued to fail inspections for controlling litter, application of soil cover and compactors being down.

During the most recent DHEC inspection on Feb. 13, it was reported the litter issue had significantly improved. The department adds that the landfill has taken immediate action to address the litter problem and that work is continuing.

DHEC reports that cover, meaning to cover the trash with a layer of soil to minimize odor, pests and rodents as well as litter, remains an issue at the landfill noted on a Jan. 24 inspection; and still needs to be addressed with the landfill having until Feb. 24 to properly fix the issue.

The Charleston Water System issued a public notice on Jan. 26, reporting that the landfill had at least one instance of significant non-compliance last year.

Charleston Water System Public Information Administrator Mike Saia stresses the wastewater does not impact drinking water or the groundwater, but the problem stems from the landfill releasing wastewater that is too strong, or highly concentrated, which is difficult for the utility to properly treat before releasing it into the Charleston Harbor.

“We have challenges treating that in our wastewater treatment plant before the wastewater is released into the harbor,” Saia says. “So basically, if everyone is in compliance, you’re taking care of our people at the plant, who can do their job to properly take care of the environment, which is specifically the Charleston Harbor behind us.”

Despite the department and landfills reports, nearby homeowners say they clean up trash from their lawns on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. Residents say they have found bones, needles and tampons dropped by birds on their lawns.

“Since we have lived here, it’s been a birdpalooza in a sense,” nearby resident Chad Perkins says. “They continually drop trash, bones any kind of hazardous material, they pick up and drop on your yard. It’s a continual never-ending problem.”

Members of nearby neighborhoods also worry about the air, land and water quality and possible health risks the birds or landfill can bring. Perkins also says when they moved into the area, bird and debris problems were never disclosed to the homeowners.

“It makes it hard to enjoy the outside,” Perkins says. “How can you come out in your backyard and enjoy your backyard if you’re worried about a bird pooping on your head, dropping, maybe a hypodermic needle or a condom package on your head? We just can’t enjoy the outside in that sense because you don’t know what you are going to get when you are out here.”

During the Feb. 13 inspection, the landfill shared its working plan toward prevention once the immediate litter and cover concerns have been corrected. This plan includes:

  • Increased portable litter capture fencing
  • Creating soil barriers
  • Changing operation of the landfill face
  • Improving the operational area in regards to typical wind pattern
  • Maintain active contract with a litter crew
  • Upgrade and add new equipment.

Charleston County issued the following statement about the Bees Ferry Landfill:

Charleston County has put several things into place to address the landfill. The county recently hired contractors to address the excess wind-blown litter. They have been on site periodically. While the area will never be completely litter-free, we will continue to monitor and maintain the area and continue the use of the contractors. Litter screens were ordered last week we expect them to be installed in approximately six weeks. Litter screens are not fool proof, but they will help provide some additional protections for the neighborhood. Additionally, bird abatement is progressing. The vendor has confirmed March 1 as its first operational day at the landfill. We are working to reduce odors with cover material, but odor may be worse on some days and will depend upon factors such as wind strength and wind direction. Charleston County officials plan to attend a community meeting which will be scheduled by SCDHEC in the coming month. We will be able to answer specific questions and provide operational updates.