Seven companies have submitted plans to clean up hundreds of thousands of tires left behind at Viva Recycling's defunct plant in Moncks Corner, which state regulators shut down last year following multiple permit violations.
Berkeley County is working with the state's Department of Health and Environmental Control to hire someone to remove the estimated 600,000 to 800,000 tires and take them to another site for recycling. The state agency will spend up to $2 million over a two-year period for the cleanup effort.
Christy Davis, the county's director of procurement, said seven firms including some from out of state submitted proposals by the June 7 deadline.
Davis said the proposals are "still under review and evaluation" and she hopes to have a proposal to bring to the County Council for approval by June 25. Davis said she isn't certain whether one or multiple companies will be hired to do the work.
Davis updated council members on the cleanup during a committee meeting Monday.
The cleanup was 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.