Pickens County officials announced during a news conference May 18 they’ve claimed victory over a coal ash suit with MRR Upstate Recycling & Transfer that has stretched back nearly seven years.
“It is a bright day in Pickens County,” Pickens County Administrator Ken Roper said. “At times it has taken character for Pickens County leadership to stay on target.”
All parties involved in the suit signed the settlement May 16. The agreement covered everything Pickens County wanted, according to Les Hendricks, county attorney.
The suit stemmed from a development agreement the county had with MRR in March 2007 to build a landfill at 2180 Greenville Highway, Liberty. DHEC issued a permit for a Class 2 landfill, but in March 2015, MRR applied for a permit modification to DHEC. Pickens County leaders said they weren’t notified of the change.
In January 2016, Pickens County terminated the land-use agreement with MRR, claiming the change was made in secrecy with no notice to the county or adjacent property owners. The modification called for an addition of a liner to the landfill to allow it to operate as a Class 3 landfill — one that accepts industrial solid waste like coal ash — while calling itself a Class 2, according to Hendricks.
MRR sued the county for $30 million as it wanted to be able to dispose of coal ash in the landfill. The case made its way to the South Carolina Supreme Court.
“This is a long-term solution to a solid-waste problem that most local governments in our nation struggle with,” Hendricks said.
The Class 2 landfill is needed for Pickens to dispose of construction and demolition waste. The settlement bars any coal ash from the landfill, along with any hazardous waste or household garbage. MRR will not operate the landfill.
MRR is required to build the landfill within a year and has three years to sell the landfill to an unaffiliated third party.
Pickens County will be required to loan $3 million for the project, which will be repaid when the landfill is sold. The county will keep 162 acres deeded by MRR, along with buying an additional 93 acres from MRR near the landfill and adjacent to the industrial park. The county has yet to make any plans for the land.