Moving quickly, South Carolina has agreed to spend up to $2 million to clean up a giant tire pile between Moncks Corner and Goose Creek, officials said Friday.
The agreement between the state Department of Health and Environmental Control and Berkeley County comes after last month's Post and Courier report "Tire Failure."
The newspaper's report exposed how lax state rules and corporate missteps created a mosquito-infested fire hazard at the abandoned Viva Recycling plant off Cypress Gardens Road.
By some estimates, between 600,000 and 800,000 scrap tires were left behind by the company.
After the story's publication, Berkeley County submitted a grant application to DHEC asking for help.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster soon followed with a letter directing DHEC to release cleanup funds.
"This is a man of action right here," Bill Peagler, Berkeley County's supervisor, said of McMaster. "We had a few tires that we needed to get moved in Berkeley County. I mentioned it to him one time and guess what, they’re going to be moved."
Tire customers ultimately are footing the bill for the Viva Recycling mess. Consumers pay a $2 disposal fee for every tire purchased in South Carolina. About half of the more than $4 million collected goes to the state's 46 counties and to DHEC.
By law, DHEC keeps its money in a dedicated fund. The fund's balance now is about $4 million but hadn't been tapped despite the growing threats of fire and mosquito-borne illnesses at the Viva site.
Berkeley County will seek bids to remove the tires and send them to another tire recycler. The grant agreement calls for $1 million to be spent during the next two fiscal years.
"We are going to make sure this job is done as quickly as possible," Peagler said. Berkeley County Council will discuss the grant during a special committee meeting Monday night.
Tim Callanan, the county’s chief financial officer, said DHEC wants to make sure the tires are recycled "and don't end up in some other place."
"The tires will have to go to a tire recycler, that’s going to be a requirement," Callanan said.
A spokesman for DHEC said the agency had no comment about the grant.