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South Carolina Gets $1.7 Million Judgment Against Tire Recycler

State regulators this week obtained a $1.7 million civil judgment against a company that left at least 200,000 scrap tires at a closed Moncks Corner recycling site, but there are still no plans to clean up the mess left behind when Viva Recycling was shut down last year.

"No one from Viva has been in contact with the department regarding payment of the penalty nor has the department received a plan to clean up the Moncks Corner property," Tim Kelly, spokesman for the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, said Wednesday.

Viva owner Marty Sergi said a new company is interested in the site on Old Depot Road and "as soon as their process is complete they will be working with DHEC on the cleanup of the site." Sergi did not name the company, but said "there has been much progress" in finding a buyer.

State officials say the site is an environmental and health threat because the stacks of tires could catch on fire and they are a breeding ground for mosquitoes that can carry diseases. The recycling facility is near a residential development of more than 100 homes.

A Berkeley County judge entered a default judgment against Viva after Sergi and the company failed to respond to a lawsuit DHEC filed in November. The state agency filed the complaint after Sergi and Viva repeatedly failed to pay roughly $1.7 million in fines related to the operation of the business.

Regulators shut down the recycling plant in 2017 after more than two years of violations and a 2016 fire that damaged the facility.

Kelly said DHEC received notice Wednesday that the judgment has been entered, but Sergi and Viva could still appeal the matter. The agency has previously said it is "looking to exhaust all legal avenues" to get the company to pay before determining what additional steps it might take.

If cleanup isn't paid for by Viva or a new buyer, funding could come from a $2 fee the state charges on each new tire that's sold in South Carolina. One-fourth of that fee goes to DHEC for its Waste Tire Grant Fund, which counties can tap to clean up sites like the one in Moncks Corner.


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