Pickens County working on expanding the county landfill in the next year

The Pickens County C&D landfill in Liberty is running out of space. According to the new GPS equipment used to survey how much space is left, there is an estimated 2-3 years’ worth. That’s taking into account the county’s new shredders, two of them, that chop up the construction waste to fill up every nook and cranny that DHEC has already permitted the county to use.

These two pieces of equipment already saved the county millions of dollars, and more importantly decreased the volume of waste far more than expected. When proposing the purchase of the first shredder, the council estimated the machines can reduce volume 13 to 1. With the second shredder, they have reduced that number to an impressive 26 to 1.

In just the past 1-2 years, there has been a 30% growth in the county. That has translated into a 60-70% increase in total waste intake. Growth is happening, and there is pressure on the county to come up with the best solution to this infrastructure issue.

Pickens County Landfill used for C&D waste.

Currently, and for the last 27 years, the county has been trucking most of its household waste (municipal solid waste) to Greenville County. While there is no current alternative for that cost, the cost of trucking all of our construction waste to nearby landfills would be astronomical by comparison. The prices continue to increase at every landfill, and getting approval for a new landfill is very unlikely.

The lack of landfill space for Pickens County C&D waste can now be remedied within the footprint of the existing landfill. There is a sizable chunk that’s not currently being used. The proposed expansion area is 65.9 acres, and they expect to be permitted for at minimum 75% or 49.4 acres. This would be an expanded permit that will piggyback on the existing one.

Pickens County Solid Waste Department received notification from SCDHEC, Compliance Letter 011723, on January 17, 2023. This compliance letter stipulated that by February 17, 2023, they must demonstrate that additional volume exists, initiate closure of the landfill, or submit an expansion package. On February 2, 2023, Demonstration of Need was filed with SCDHEC to begin the expansion permitting.

The proposed Pickens County expansion map. The red line indicates the proposed expansion area. The white lines indicate the landfill property line, and the yellow indicates the buffer zone.

When these expansion permits are approved, along with the new efficient practices and equipment, Pickens County tax payers would have and additional 50+ years of landfill space.

The total cost of the expansion, including additional heavy machinery, would cost the county $2.28 million. However, the county would save at least $500,000 per year in costs not having to truck and dump C&D in Greenville County. The means the investment will pay for itself within 3 to 5 years.

There is an estimated permitting timeline of 6-12 months. There is a process of approval for this with DHEC and the community outside the 1,000 foot buffer zone around the landfill. There are currently no homes near the buffer zone outside the proposed expansion area.

At the County Council Committee Meeting on February 21, 2023 the council voted 4-2 to move forward with the expansion process with councilmen Alex Saitta and Chris Lollis opposing. The council also voted to approve $142,000 to purchase the excavator the landfill has been leasing the last several months. They are waiting to approve the additional $2 million requested for heavy equipment until they get a firm nod from DHEC that the expansion will proceed.