CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Health officials in South Carolina are proposing fines for a recycling company because of abandoned tires that serve as a mosquito breeding ground.
The Department of Health and Environmental Control has proposed more than $1 million in civil penalties against the 21-acre (8.5-hectare) Viva Recycling operation in Berkeley County, The Post and Courier of Charleston reported.
Health officials say the company has more than 200,000 abandoned tires in Berkeley County. DHEC says the company has not paid the $1.65 million in fines yet.
Viva President and CEO Marti Sergi says the company has no money to remove the tires or pay the fines.
In addition to the mosquitoes, there are fears a fire will break out at the Viva property. A 2014 blaze hurt three Viva employees and heavily damaged the facility. The plant caught fire again about a year ago, shutting off the power and putting the company out of commission.
The company has defaulted on nearly $16 million in funding issued through the South Carolina Jobs and Economic Development Authority, a state agency that helps businesses and nonprofits secure financing through the bond markets.
Repayment of the bonds "rest solely with the borrower, Viva Recycling, and there is no liability to the state of South Carolina for their repayment, said Harry Huntley, the executive director of the authority.
Health officials earlier closed the company's operation in Anderson County, where about 66,000 scrap tires were stored.
Sergi said a possible sale of the Moncks Corner site for other industrial uses might raise enough money to remove the scrap tires. But a bank serving as the financial trustee for the bond debt has a mortgage on the property and proceeds from any sale would likely go toward paying off that debt.