freezer pic

A freezer full of rotting food was recently dumped on the bank of a dirt road in Salters. Williamsburg County Environmental Services was contacted and the appliance was removed. Illegal dumping of appliances, furniture, and trash is not uncommon in some areas of Williamsburg County.

Photo by Michaele Duke

In the heart of Salters is a narrow stretch of dirt road that runs parallel to the railroad track. The lane is framed with dense vegetation and shaded by a canopy of trees. It’s a pretty place to walk and ride four-wheelers.

However, a mile down the scenic trip has been interrupted by a stench. Someone took the time to load the small upright appliance but rather than drive a couple of miles to a recycle center, they dumped the freezer full of rotting food on the bank of the road. Animals have since dragged packages of meat and other times across the road leaving a path of trash and an odor that takes your breath away.

The News was contacted about the freezer Monday, June 24, and met with Williamsburg County Environmental Services Lt. Vincent McCrea the following day. McCrea said he was notified and was addressing the issue. McCrea, who operates under the Williamsburg County Sheriff’s Office is in charge of litter control and mosquitoes, among other responsibilities, said when environmental services receives a call they respond and follow a procedure that includes going through the debris (if safe to do so) to collect any information. “If there’s rotten meat or anything like that, it’s contaminated and we don’t do it like that,” said McCrea. The item, in this case a freezer, is then transported to the landfill.

McCrea said if information is collected that ties a citizen to the item, officials place an “Improper Placement of Garbage” Notice on the owner’s door. The owner then has seven days to respond to the notice. If there is no response, McCrea said they deliver by hand to the owner a written fine with a court date. McCrea said there are many safety issues associated with abandoned items such as a freezer such as the possibility of a child becoming trapped inside and suffocating. He also described other issues, as in the case of the freezer filled with rotting meat. “Contaminated meat in there - someone could open that and breath in that fume and make them get sick from it,” he said.

According to the Williamsburg County Recycle Center website, all centers collect, among other things, white goods (appliances) as well as bulk waste (furniture, mattresses), tires, aluminum and steel cans, scrap metal, batteries and used oil.

McCrea said the problem could stem from citizens being unaware of the recycle center’s hours of operation. He said, for example, once someone loads the item on the back of their truck they’re not thinking about what time the recycling center is open and the load is dumped wherever the driver deems convenient. He said changing the county’s recycle center hours could possibly alleviate some of the illicit activity. “They all need to be on the same hours,” he said. Some centers operate Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday because of low volume. Some close at 12 p.m. and reopen at 3 p.m. and others close at 12 p.m. and reopen at 4 p.m.

State penalties for littering in South Carolina:

Up to 15 lbs. – Persons convicted of placing litter, as defined, on public or private property must remove that litter and shall be fined not less than $25 and not more than $100, or up to 30 days in jail, and the court must impose eight hours of “litter gathering or other form of community service.”

Between 15 lbs. and 500 lbs. (illegal dumping) – Persons convicted must be fined not less than $200 nor more than and $500, or up to 30 days in jail, and the court shall require 16 hours of litter gathering or other community service. Community service increases to 24 hours upon a second conviction, and 32 hours for a third conviction within five years.

More than 500 lbs. (illegal dumping) – Persons convicted must be fined not less than $500 nor more than $1,000, and up to a year in jail. The violator also may be ordered to remove the dumped litter, pay damages, and perform community service. Fines for dumping more than 500 lbs of litter may not be suspended.

Other provisions – This act defines litter and illegal dumping as separate offenses, which caused confusion when enforcing violations on both public and private owned properties. The new law makes it easier to achieve court-ordered community service/litter pick up by removing the requirement for supervision. The litter gathering community service portion of the penalty may not be suspended, except the court may, upon request, accept an additional monetary penalty equal to $15 per hour in lieu of the community service. Probation may be granted only due to physical or other incapacities.

To report a local littering incident call Williamsburg County Environmental Services at (843) 355-9312. Also, PalmettoPride sponsors a statewide Litter Busters Hotline. If you see someone tossing litter from an automobile, call 1-877-7litter (754-8837). Make a note of the location, time and the vehicle’s license number. The person will receive a letter from South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles informing him or her stating that if a law enforcement officer had witnessed the littering, it could have resulted in a serious fine or even jail time. The letter is not a form of citation however, the department keeps a record of each incident.

Recycle Center hours of operation:

Public Works, Hemingway and Mouzon Recycling Centers are open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Cades, Mt. Vernon, Blakley, Midway and Morrisville Recycling Centers are open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

All other recycling centers are open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information visit the county’s website at www.williamsburgcounty.sc.gov.