County leaders concerned about landfill's future

A dump truck drives into the Berkeley County landfill, located off Highway 52, earlier this month.

During a recent update on the ongoing landfill odor issue in Moncks Corner, concern arose over the site's future capacity, especially as the county population continues to increase.

"The faster we grow, the more that's going into that landfill," said Councilman Kevin Cox. "We need to watch how much is going into that precious resource."

During the governing body's meeting Monday, county staff revealed they had received at least 57 complaints tied to the stench stemming from the Highway 52 property. Most callers have been residents of nearby Foxbank Plantation and Oakley Pointe subdivisions.

County staff also told council members they are continuing efforts to reduce (and) control the landfill gas. Though the odor has somewhat subsided, staff still encouraged community members to call 843-719-2386 to report when they detect the smell, providing as many details as possible. 

The county said excessive rainfall the last quarter of 2018 co-mingled with construction and demolition (C&D) debris and other permeable materials on site resulted in the unprecedented amount of hydrogen sulfide emissions. The debris increased after the C&D landfill closed and its materials were dumped at the site.

During close observation and tests county crews and consultants have conducted at the property - as commanded by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, fully aware of the problem - revealed an area in the landfill called Cell 13, and active and open cell, has been the primary source of the odor.

Several measures are in place to squelch it. 

"First and foremost, I want to ensure council and our residents that the resolution of the odor problem at the landfill has been and will continue to be our priority," said Doug Smits, executive director of Berkeley County Water and Sanitation.

The county said efforts to "isolate the source" commenced in the fall, after complaints started coming in around September/October. 

On Friday, crews replaced a carbon scrubber device, installed at the landfill in December, with one seven times larger in size. In addition, a berm structure to divert rainwater was recently installed.

Crews have also setup monitors in the landfill, around the perimeter and in Foxbank to detect gas emulsions. The county said none of the devices in the residential areas have detected any significant amount of hydrogen sulfide. The monitors were placed there in response to residents' concerns over potential health hazards from inhaling the gas.

Councilman Jack Schurlknight questioned staff about possible water contamination from the gas. Staff reassured him that the county conducts semi-annual groundwater testing at the landfill.

Currently, the county is preparing to put in 20 shallow gas wells in Cell 13, staff said Monday. The covered wells will connect into the landfill's permanent gas collection system to keep hydrogen sulfide from escaping into the air.

"The very positive thing is we have a very complete active working gas collection system," Smits told council members.

DHEC is requiring the active gas collection system, as well as a number of other measures at the site. Once all work is completed, the county must photograph it and report updates back to the state. The county has until Saturday to finalize all requirements, according to a DHEC report the county released last week. Enforcement actions could ensue if the county fails to comply, the report said.

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