By Paul Gable
By a margin of one vote, Horry County Council moved to benefit future generations of county residents by approving first reading of an amendment to the county’s solid waste flow control ordinance.
The amendment will remove construction and demolition debris from flow control regulation.
By taking this step, the HCSWA estimates it will lose approximately 35,000 tons of C&D waste from going to its Hwy 90 landfill. It must be noted, that estimate is purely speculative, but any loss of waste experienced by the HCSWA extends the life of the landfill to the benefit of future generations of Horry County residents.
Lost in any discussion of the flow control ordinance is the fact that the HCSWA was charged at its inception in 1990 of finding alternative means of disposing of waste generated in the county in order to extend the life of its landfill. Over the course of its 23 year existence, the HCSWA has totally ignored this charge.
Instead, the debate entered the realm of gloom and doom hyperbole threatening such things as massive lawsuits by the haulers, especially MSW haulers resulting in loss of the landfill, millions of dollars of loss for the HCSWA and images of thousands of tons of garbage being hauled by train to Horry County to be disposed in the HCSWA landfill.
Council member Harold Worley said this amendment was about municipal solid waste (MSW) and was the beginning of the big solid waste haulers trying to take over the HCSWA. He maintains the big MSW haulers will sue the county for millions of dollars.
However, to sue you must establish damages. In my 30 years of living in Horry County, no MSW has left the county to be disposed elsewhere. It is too expensive to do so.
No MSW hauler will sue to seek to remove MSW from flow control regulation if this amendment receives final passage because they are not suffering financial loss. It is not financially feasible for them to haul Horry County waste to a landfill other than the one on Hwy 90.
It is economically beneficial, however, for private haulers to take C&D out of the county, extending the life of the landfill.
Council member James Frazier talked about protecting against the trains bringing tons and tons of solid waste into South Carolina. However, he disregards the fact that no train has ever brought any waste to Horry County and no trains have run in Horry County for over two years.
But, if they scare the voters, Worley, Frazier and those that voted with them to defeat the amendment may be able to prevail in their ultimate goal of defeating the amendment.
A workshop will be scheduled in early January on this issue as well as two more readings early next year. Much additional hyperbole, none of which will be true, will be heard by those opposing the amendment.
It will be up to those council members supporting the ordinance to separate the wheat from the chaff in these arguments.