Photo from DHEC drone taken Feb. 2, 2017 at Viva Recycling near Moncks Corner (copy)

This file photo shows hundreds of thousands of scrap tires that were stored at the Viva Recycling facility near Moncks Corner. Nearly all of the tires have been removed more than a year ahead of schedule. File/DHEC/Provided

An abandoned recycling center with a million scrap tires representing fire and health hazards will be cleaned up more than a year ahead of schedule, Berkeley County officials said Friday.

Pittsburgh-based Liberty Tire Recycling initially thought it would take two years to remove tires from the Viva Recycling site near Moncks Corner. The company won a contract to do the work and started in August. The cleanup now is expected to be finished by April.

County spokeswoman Hannah Moldenhauer said Liberty has removed 10,500 tons of tires from the site adjacent to the Fairmont South subdivision off Cypress Gardens Road. That represents about 750 truckloads totaling just over 1 million tires.

Moldenhauer said almost all of the tires are now gone and Liberty crews will spend the next six weeks cleaning up tire shreds and chips. At 10,500 tons, the price tag comes to more than $2.5 million.

The cleanup is being funded by a grant from the state's Department of Health and Environmental Control. The grant uses the $2-per-tire fee consumers pay when they buy new tires.

A Liberty spokesman could not be reached for comment Friday.

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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 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 approving $16 million in tax-exempt bonds and a $400,000 loan.

Viva opened its facility in 2013 and ran into trouble with regulators two years later for improper storage of tires and other violations. The problems, and the piles of tires, grew bigger and DHEC ultimately revoked the company's operating permit in 2017.

Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_