Opinion: Why I can’t vote for this landfill expansion

[The following is an emailed statement from Alex Saitta, Pickens County councilman received on February 22, 2023. Councilman Saitta voted against the Pickens County landfill expansion at the County Council committee meeting on Tuesday, February 21, 2023.

For clarity, MRR refers to the landfill on Highway 93 owned by the private company MRR Upstate Recycling. MRR was closed in 2015 when the county discovered that the company planned to dump coal ash into the landfill, exposing the residents of Pickens County to harmful toxins. They were in litigation with MRR until a settlement was reached in 2022. The conditions of the settlement suggested that the county would have the option of buying the landfill at a later date. Ken Roper and many of the County Council expressed their hesitation to rely on MRR to follow through with the terms of their settlement given the long and strained litigation history.]

I can’t vote for this because I know the history here, the millions spent and too many bad decisions along the way.

More thought and time needs to be put into this.

  • The public was told years ago the landfill had to be closed because it was full.
  • The council decided to get out of the landfill business. A deal was then made with a private company MRR to buy and operate a land fill in Pickens County that the county would pay a fee and then dump into as its long-term solution.
  • That blew up when MRR tried to put coal ash in the landfill and the public got wind of it.
  • The county came up with a new long-term plan to truck all its trash to Greenville. The county was then saying it was getting the trucking trash business.
  • The county then realized trucking was too expensive and it needed to settle with MRR settlement. The county agreed to a $7 million deal as we were going to help MRR open the landfill and discussed dumping in that landfill as a new long-term solution.
  • Three months later the administration did a 180 degree turn and said dumping in the MRR landfill was a bad idea.
  • And the new plan is now being adopted now to resuscitate the current landfill for millions of dollars more.

Given that history I don’t trust the judgement in changing the plan yet again and spending even more millions.

It is best to wait to see if MRR can honor the settlement. If not, then we should see if we can by their fresh landfill (use these millions for that instead).

If MRR follows through on the settlement, then follow the outline in the settlement, where the county fronted MRR $3 million to open their landfill and we use that.  

Click here to read the full article about the Pickens County landfill expansion project.