EPA fights processing facility fires

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Since mid-August, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and DHEC have worked to extinguish a fire at the Able Contracting Material Recovery Facility in Jasper County near Okatie. Officials said the fires were caused by spontaneous combustions, and the EPA has moved more than 7,187 tons of material to the Hickory Hill and Oakwood landfills, away from heavily populated areas and sensitive watersheds.

The S.C. Department of Environmental Health and Control estimates it will cost $4.5 million to fully remove the towering mound of debris, which first started smoldering — and releasing noxious fumes — in early June. Neighbors were evacuated from their homes Aug. 2 after environmental advocacy groups monitoring air and water quality voiced concerns about the long-term effects of toxins from the burning debris. State Sen. Tom Davis said legal action could be taken against site owner Able Contracting if the company or its owner, Chandler Lloyd, are found to have violated state or federal regulations.