Solid Waste Management Plan Moves to County Council with Unanswered Questions in Limbo

Horry County Council will be voting Tuesday night on a revised Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) but questions about what is and what is not included in that plan remain to be answered before it is sent to the S. C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

The SWMP is an important guidance document in that it outlines the plan the county has for the handling of solid waste for the next 20 years. Prior to requesting a permit from DHEC for change or expansion of services, that change or expansion must be included as part of the SWMP.

The SWA has chosen to update its SWMP every three years. However, this year’s update includes plans for major landfill expansion projects that have only recently been introduced and with only sketchy details discussed in the plan and associated meetings.

Before the document is sent to DHEC, the SWMP receives approvals/endorsements of its contents from the Horry County Solid Waste Authority Board (SWA), a public hearing, city councils in the county and Horry County Council.

However, few questions have been asked about the overall plan or the expansion added in its latter stages. The SWA board acts as a rubber stamp for anything the SWA staff puts before it. Only one citizen participated in the public hearing. Of the city council members I have spoken to representing several of the municipalities in the county, none realized they voted approval for a proposed large expansion at the landfill. The county’s Infrastructure and Regulation Committee listened to the presentation at its meeting last week, asked few questions, none really in-depth, and recommended sending the resolution of approval forward to full council.

This lack of curiosity about major revisions at a county agency is neither proper oversight, due diligence nor good government.

If the expansions are approved as proposed, the authority will eventually have a class III (municipal solid waste) lined landfill on top of a class II (construction and demolition debris) unlined landfill, both on top of the original Conway dump site which contains municipal solid waste in an unlined pit.

At a recent board meeting, SWA Executive Director Danny Knight told board members the latest expansion plan was moving forward because it was the authority’s responsibility to maximize the use of available land at the Hwy 90 site for waste disposal.