Charleston Area Waste and Recycling
Waste Management’s Oakridge Landfill in rural Dorchester County is South Carolina’s third largest landfill, consisting of more than 83 acres of property. It is located at the edge of Four Holes Swamp—home to the Francis Beidler Forest, in the headwaters of the ACE Basin. The landfill has requested permits from DHEC’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) and the Army Corps of Engineers to expand into at least 14 acres of wetlands.
In February, DHEC-OCRM approved and awarded both 401 water quality and coastal zone consistency certifications, essentially giving a green light for the landfill to expand. In response, a joint request from the Southern Environmental Law Center and the South Carolina Environmental Law Project on behalf of the Coastal Conservation League, Audubon S.C., and the S.C. Wildlife Federation was submitted to the DHEC board for a final review conference. In late March, that request was denied. The S.C. Environmental Law Project appealed the decision on behalf of the Conservation League.
After a field trip to the affected wetlands, we realized that the wetlands could legally be surrounded by the landfill even without the requested permit. The League revised its goal to achieve a more ecologically beneficial landscape-scale conservation solution while limiting the footprint of the facility. We are now in the process of working with Waste Management to achieve that goal.
To that end, Waste Management is currently pursuing the purchase of two key properties. The first is nearly 190 wetland acres, and the second is nearly 40 wetland acres. Waste Management has submitted an updated permit application for DHEC and the Corps to consider. The League and partners have submitted letters of support for the new mitigation package.