LAKE WYLIE, SC (AP) Illegal landfills are a constant problem in South Carolina, occurring in every county of the state, and environmental investigator said.
Illegal landfills, which are potential environmental hazards, take in debris from land-clearing and construction industries at sometimes half what a permitted landfill would charge.
The Department of Health and Environmental Control has three criminal investigators assigned to three different regions in the state. They have busted dozens of illegal landfills in the last six months.
One of the most recent arrests occurred in York County, where Paul Bernard Drewing, 66, was charged with operating an illegal landfill off state Highway 49, near the North Carolina state line.
Drewing accepted $200 from five undercover investigators with the state Department of Health and Environmental Control on Jan. 29 to let them dump five truck loads of demolition debris in a 70-ft. ravine, DHEC investigator Chris Phillips said.
Drewing was arrested after the money changed hands. Phillips said Drewing had been operating the landfill on someone else’s property for a “period of time.”
The owner of the 2.2 acre property lives in North Carolina, and Phillips said more people are expected to be charged. He would not say whether the owner knew about the landfill.
“This happens in every county in the entire state,” Phillips said. Legal landfills are approved, monitored and inspected by DHEC and must be deemed environmentally safe, Phillips said. It was the first bust in York County in the last year, but “it’s progressively getting worse.”
Those involved in the land-clearing and construction industries can cut dump fees in half by using an illegal site, Phillips said. Drewing charged DHEC agents $40 for each dump truck load of debris. The typical amount would be between $70 and $80 per load.
It wasn’t the first arrest at the site. A 37-year-old Lancaster man was arrested Dec. 15.
DHEC investigators said they found David L. Honeycutt, an employee of Boggs Transportation, disposing of 500 pounds of asphalt, Phillips said. He was charged with littering over 500 pounds, a misdemeanor.
Authorities had numerous complaints about Drewing’s landfill.
“When we found out about it, we jumped on it and did what we could do,” Phillips said.
Drewing has been charged with violation of solid waste policy management act and violation of pollution control act, both misdemeanors.
He was released from the York County Detention Center on $3,232 personal recognizance bond. If convicted of both charges, he is facing a maximum of three years in prison and a $30,000 fine.