MONCKS CORNER — Rampant complaints of missed trash pickup, inconsistent customer communication and messy oil spills from garbage trucks on Berkeley County's roads piled up this month, prompting local officials to address the trash-removal company about their shortcomings.
Republic Services, the garbage contractor with the county, has been criticized by residents from Del Webb to Nexton in recent weeks for problems with routine service.
Doug Polen, the community development director for the town of Moncks Corner, said he met with Republic Services on Wednesday morning. He said the company told them there have been a variety of staffing and maintenance issues.
"This last month, there has been some hiccups," Polen said. "They have a number of trucks that they have been Band-Aiding, but haven't taken out of service. They have actually leased three new trucks to help with that."
He said the company plans to hire several new drivers. A statement from Republic Services on Wednesday said the company was aware of the issues.
"... We have recently not lived up to our own expectations," Republic Services said in an email. "An unanticipated increase in collection truck repairs, combined with the growing service area has led to delayed pick-ups in some parts of the County."
Despite the issues this month, Polen said he told the company Wednesday that Moncks Corner plans to re-sign their contract with them. Republic also said in a statement that they plan to add collection trucks and are working with the county to design modified collection routes and schedules.
"Berkeley County met with Republic Services last week to discuss the issues," said Hannah Moldenhauer, Berkeley County spokeswoman. "They ensured county leaders that the issues are being rectified."
Moldenhauer did not respond to a question asking if the county's contract with Republic Services was being reviewed or what oversight Berkeley has over the problems.
Some residents still didn't have their trash picked up as expected this past week even after county officials spoke with Republic.
"I’m not sure when our street got pushed back a day but I can’t remember the last time our trash was picked up on Tuesdays like they are supposed to," Berkeley County resident Angela Kim said. "They said they are behind because of debris. It's been going on for months."
Other issues include waiting for several weeks to receive a new trash can if the old one was broken or damaged.
"(They're) a week late so far on a can for new service," Jon Doddo said. "I will be calling and emailing them daily. Futile, perhaps, but their reputation precedes them."
Some Berkeley County residents did receive an automated phone call this week from Republic Services telling them to email and call so that new trash cans could be delivered.
Some issues are more longstanding. Cody Johnson, a Moncks Corner resident who lives near Foxbank Plantation, has consistently seen hydraulic oil spills on his road.
"It's been about a month now," Johnson said. "I came out to take my can and my neighbor's can in and there was hydraulic fluid all over the road."
Johnson emailed Polen to report the issue. The town administrator said Republic Services came out to clean it up, but Johnson is still seeing the puddles from the oil spills on the street.
Republic said they "contact a third-party contractor that dispatches a team to clean up the leak and re-mediate any potential issues." The trash service also said they send trucks with leaks to the maintenance shop immediately.
One other area of confusion for Berkeley County residents has to deal with recycling in the area. In early April, Repower South opened up in Moncks Corner. All municipalities in the county, from Daniel Island to Goose Creek, dump their trash and recyclables at the facility.
The new technology sorts recyclables from waste and some of it will end up being burned alongside coal in cement plants, paper mills and power plants.
This means that residents shouldn't have to pay recycling fees in Berkeley County since all renewables can be put in the main trash can and then sorted at the facility. But some Berkeley County residents are still paying or having issues canceling Republic's renewable pickup.
Berkeley County's recycling contract with Republic Services will expire after Aug. 31, according to Moldenhauer, a date chosen "months ago" as (Repower South) transitions to fully processing the county’s waste.
The woes come just weeks after 850 Daniel Island residents — a Berkeley County area located in the city of Charleston — let trash sit in the streets for several days. The city ended up asking Republic Service to reimburse them $6,000 for not picking up trash that week.