A Big, Fat Dump

PINEWOOD PROBLEMS COSTING SOUTH CAROLINA TAXPAYERS S.C. Rep. Murrell Smith (R-Sumter) had financial issues associated the Pinewood, S.C. landfill heaped on him like a big pile of … well, you know. The problem? When this facility was closed over a decade ago, the state was supposed to provide funding for…


S.C. Rep. Murrell Smith (R-Sumter) had financial issues associated the Pinewood, S.C. landfill heaped on him like a big pile of … well, you know.

The problem? When this facility was closed over a decade ago, the state was supposed to provide funding for its ongoing monitoring.

Pinewood is not some municipal landfill disposing of household trash, mind you. It is (or was) a toxic waste facility – one located near near the shores of Lake Marion, where even a minor leak could easily become a major environmental issue.

Unfortunately the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) – the agency in charge of the funding and the monitoring for the facility – has not protected the public or its purse as it relates to this site. In fact were SCDHEC truly interested in safeguarding South Carolinians, it would have never allowed this facility to be located so close to one of the largest freshwater lakes in America in the first place.

Of course lawmakers of the day were getting their pockets greased, so … you know how that goes.

Anyway, for two decades – from 1980-2000 – state lawmakers and environmental regulators allowed Pinewood to receive hazardous waste, seemingly oblivious to the long-term consequences of their special interest whoring.

And after the facility was finally shut down, the state has been left holding the bag on a $4.6 million annual bill – one it must continue to pay out over the next nine decades.

Ouch, right?

To his credit Smith – operating on a serious time constraint – did what he had to do, taking steps first to ensure the public’s safety and then to create a process so that legislators and other policymakers were better informed about these long-term obligations in the future.

We commend Smith for his willingness to take on such a difficult issue. We hope a process will be created this year that ensures policymakers and the public timely access to important environmental information. More importantly, we hope lawmakers and regulators now realize the long-term fiscal folly of giving special treatment to toxic dumpers intent on bringing their out-of-state sludge to South Carolina.

We have no problem with for-profit companies in the Palmetto State receiving out-of-state waste – however we have a BIG problem with taxpayers being forced to subsidize their operations (same with any crony capitalist “economic development” handouts). Also, any company that wishes to operate such a business in South Carolina must price in the long-term costs of monitoring the waste they bring in.

That should never be the obligation of the taxpayers …

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WTF March 18, 2014 at 11:17 am

DHEC is a disaster under Haley appointment Templeton!
Another Haley screw job to the people of SC!

SC Is For Sale, Cheap March 18, 2014 at 7:25 pm

This all happened long before Templeton. She shares none of the blame.

southmauldin March 18, 2014 at 11:37 am

Was this not the landfill that Laidlaw was required to put up over $100 million in a cash bond in the 1990s? Then they talked the legislators into waiving the requirement, they sold it to Safety Kleen, and then Safety Kleen filed bankruptcy? Did no one see that coming?

Facts for A Long Time March 18, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Yes, that’s the same one. I’ve watched this disaster in the making for most of my adult life. It was first commercialized as as “kitty litter” mining facility in the 60’s and 70’s and then turned to waste disposal. I can’t even begin to count the times the public was warned both scientifically and anectdotally all while turning deaf ears to the facts.

We are reaping what DHEC sowed with promises they were all too eager to hear and accept.

Bible Thumper March 18, 2014 at 4:32 pm

It was never even intended for “kitty litter” mining. Just story that ignorant southerns would believe until their real intentions had tone revealed.

Facts for A Long Time March 18, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Only the facts, Mam, only the facts. A college classmate of mine and his family owned the property. In fact, they did mine and sell that absorbent clay for just that purpose. They found a buyer, sold it for less than its worth and the rest is history. I would provide his name but find Yankee SOB’s like yourself unworthy of such a breach of privacy.

Just the facts, mother-effer, just the facts.

Bible Thumper March 18, 2014 at 10:51 pm

Apologies Facts, I should have put “ignorant Southerner” in quotes to reflect the attitude of Laidlaw. But in fact everyone in the area was ignorant of their intentions when it was purchased. A DHEC document that I found says that it was used as claystone mine from 1972 until 1978. I did not know of this prior use. My father, who was mayor of Summerton, and Rep. Alex Harvin had a conversation after it became and issue. I overheard this conversation . They said that they were told that the property was to be used by for claystone mining “kitty litter”. This may have been second hand from the lawyer or realtor who handled the transaction. I don’t know. I was a teenager at the time. I have had numerous conversations since with knowledgeable people. This has always been my understanding.
A Son of the South

Cool Water March 19, 2014 at 7:54 pm

“who was mayor of Summerton”
The well driller? If so, I had lunch with him one time and found him a nice and informed guy.

Bible Thumper March 19, 2014 at 8:08 pm

No. It was thirty years ago. I can only recall three mayors. My father was farmer and educator.

John March 18, 2014 at 11:41 am

A Big Fat Dump.

What an appropriate headline for just about any article related to SC and its “leaders.”

ELCID March 18, 2014 at 11:57 am

We fought like hell to keep this dump from ever being built it the first place.
But, payoffs to the State Legislature and Governor’s office made it happen.
Now we are all going to pay the price.

Philip Branton March 18, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Dear SPAWAR Atlantic civil SERVANTS,

Dare to wonder if our Captain Burin will be interviewed concerning PLASMA converters that were bought and never used in Iraq and Afghanistan that should be used to CLOSE DOWN every landfill in our state ..?

Ask yourselves why Wil FOlks does not mention this in the article to educate his readers about the technology..?!

Ask yourself why a question concerning methane tapping will not be asked by NANCY MACE during a debate in front of all those MEN that are getting our troops KILLED…!!

E. Norma Scok March 18, 2014 at 1:13 pm

I wonder if anyone from SPAWAR actually reads this crap?

Philip Branton March 18, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Norma……..according to the “Art of War” …….

I am not talking to SPAWAR………..

….I am talking to a JURY…..

euwe max March 18, 2014 at 2:10 pm

I thought our eyes were supposed to glaze over when something complicated like toxic waste is discussed.

euwe max March 18, 2014 at 7:18 pm


Soft Sigh from Hell March 18, 2014 at 7:22 pm

Why have we never seen a name-by-name expose of who did what to permit this dump and who did what to allow the profiteers to remove themselves from the liability? Why is it always “DHEC” and the “Legislature” and never bureau director Joe Blow and Sen. John Doe and so on down the list?

Not everyone was on the take March 19, 2014 at 9:05 am

Sen. Phil Leventis fought like hell through ’80’s to get that damn thing closed, fighting a public AND a legislature that were non too supportive of his efforts almost every step of the way.

Facts for A Long Time March 19, 2014 at 10:05 am

Leventis was an absolute warrior on the issue for years just as you say. He caught all sorts of hell by the powers that be.

Ted March 19, 2014 at 12:29 pm

This is how they will get around any pollution problems that SCDEHEC allows. They will take away your right to fight any pollution. As you know SCDEHEC allows any company to pollute as long as the company pays off the big wigs. Read this and see how SCDEHEC and the state government works If this passes you will no longer be able sue.

Beginning with the June 6, 2012, effective date of Act 198 of 2012, no claim or cause of action alleging a violation of the Pollution Control Act may be filed in a court or administrative tribunal by any person other than the Department of Health and Environmental Control or an agency, commission, department, or political subdivision of the State, with the exception that an individual may pursue the administrative procedure established by Act 198 of 2012 that allows someone to petition DHEC for a declaratory ruling on an assertion that the Pollution Control Act is being violated.

Dead Chickens Roosting March 19, 2014 at 8:02 pm

“SCDEHEC allows any company to pollute as long as the company pays off the big wigs.”
I don’t know about now, but someone should look into this topic with respect to the original opening of this hazardous waste dump. Look at who wrote the hazardous waste dump permitting regulations for South Carolina and then soon after left the agency. And where did he go? And where is he now?

Ted March 19, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Templeton could do something about pollution don’t give her a way out. The problem is our state government is on the take. We need to replace them before we are all sick or worse. It’s a shame our people have to get sick or die because of our polluted water and air just because our government wants to line it’s pockets.
Check out SC house bill h.3925 It states that you will have to ask SCDEHEC for permission to sue or even try to stop pollution. The SC house passed it last week it’s in the senate now. As you know Templeton won’t give you permission to fight polluters. So your all rights will be gone.

Interesting Story July 29, 2014 at 2:37 pm

There is so much politics, history, financial waste, industrial/haz waste, environmental complexity, etc associated with this site. Going to be an interesting fight to become the next Trustee. As a side note, most of these commenters are woefully uninformed on almost all aspects of Pinewood.


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