Berkeley County Council is expected to hire Liberty Tire Recycling to remove hundreds of thousands of tires left at Viva Recycling's defunct plant in Moncks Corner after state regulators shut down the facility last year for multiple permit violations.
Councilmembers will hear a recommendation to hire Liberty during its meeting Monday. Liberty submitted the lowest qualifying bid for the project.
Liberty, a national recycler with headquarters in Pittsburgh and a facility in Anderson, has proposed taking the tires to one of its recycling facilities to turn them into products such as landscaping mulch and paving material. A Liberty spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
According to bid documents, the cleanup would take 40 weeks and Liberty would charge $239 per ton, with roughly 100 passenger vehicle tires making up a ton. The state's Department of Health and Environmental Control has set aside $2 million from its waste tire fund to pay for the cleanup. That amount would cover 8,368 tons, or approximately 836,800 tires.
Liberty was one of two companies that submitted qualifying bids. The other company — C2G Ltd. of Goose Creek — had proposed removing the tires over a two-year period at $400 per ton. Five other bid proposals didn't meet the county's minimum qualifications.
The cleanup is being spurred by The Post and Courier report Tire Failure, which exposed how lax state oversight and corporate missteps fueled the rise of massive tire piles in Moncks Corner, Anderson and Jacksonville, Fla.
The newspaper documented how Viva Recycling executives had a string of bankruptcies in the Northeast before launching their tire recycling projects in South Carolina. Despite those failures, state and local officials greased their entry into South Carolina by green-lighting $16 million in tax-exempt bonds and a $400,000 loan.
The state's health agency also approved a permit allowing Viva to store up to 99,000 tires at its plant adjacent to a neighborhood with hundreds of residents. Records obtained by The Post and Courier show the company soon violated that 99,000-tire restriction. Today, drone footage shows 20-foot-tall mounds of discarded tires around the plant, with each tire a potential breeding ground for thousands of mosquitoes.
State officials have fined Viva Recycling nearly $1.7 million for its permit violations, but nothing has been paid.
Money for the cleanup will come from a $2-per-tire fee customers in South Carolina pay when they purchase new tires. About half of that money goes to the state's health department to promote recycling. The agency has about $4 million in a dedicated waste tire cleanup fund and, following The Post and Courier's report, Gov. Henry McMaster told agency officials to tap that fund.