Horry County Solid Waste Authority (SWA) officials evidenced a paranoid reaction to local media last week when commenting on water samples taken near the landfill for contamination testing.
SWA Executive Director Danny Knight and landfill operations head Mike Bessant both called the desire of the county Infrastructure and Regulation Committee to test the water as politically motivated.
Bessant was quoted in local media as saying those raising concerns about water quality want to “discredit the authority and try to make them look bad” and “everybody’s always after us to try to get us down.”
Knight was quoted as saying private haulers have tried to take some of the business in the county and some council members “get on the soapbox and scream.”
County council member Johnny Vaught, never one to miss a chance to be quoted in local media, was credited as saying there is a faction in Horry County that wants to dissolve the SWA.
This effort to redirect the conversation from potential water contamination near the landfill to political tactics to discredit the authority was immediately repeated by a local reporter who appears to have very little knowledge of the history of the SWA.
The SWA was created 30 years ago by county council under county Ordinance 60-90.
The first paragraph of that ordinance reads, “There is a need in Horry County to develop an acceptable alternative method of solid waste disposal and to reduce the tonnage of solid waste disposal in sanitary landfills due to the County’s high water table and other geologic characteristics that make utilization and expansion of the existing landfill and development of new landfills especially expensive and difficult.”
That is a formal way of saying dumping garbage in and around a swamp is not good public policy. Develop alternative methods for disposing of the county’s garbage.
When the authority was created, the general consensus on county council was the existing landfill had approximately seven years left until it was full. By the time that landfill was closed, the SWA would have developed plans to oversee safe and effective ways to transfer and dispose of the garbage elsewhere, presumably in landfills in other parts of the state.