Marlboro Group Stands Up to Megadump

February 16, 2010

Investigative Reports

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The NerveTrevor Lightbody
Citizen Reporter

On Nov. 30, 2009, a grassroots group, Citizens For Marlboro County, made up of ordinary citizens from Marlboro County, S.C., was served with a lawsuit by Columbia attorneys James M. Griffin and Dick Harpootlian representing MRR Southern, LLC, a waste industry company based out of Raleigh, N.C.

This citizens group has protested throughout Marlboro County and even took to the State House steps and met with Governor Sanford on several occasions to have its voice heard.

In December 2007, MRR Southern, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, the Marlboro County Council and S.C. Rep. Doug Jennings met at Wallace School to try to sell the idea of a 5,000-acre landfill to the citizens, especially those in Wallace, where MRR and landowner Z.V. Pate want to build this mega-dump.

DHEC has come under quite a bit of fire in recent years for their alleged lack of concern for the health and well-being of the residents of South Carolina. They have wasted no time in trying to get this done.

Marlboro residents produce 13,000 tons of garbage per year. That much will come into Marlboro County within three days. Is something wrong with this picture?

In the Dec. 13, 2007, Marlboro Herald newspaper, Ron Gilkerson of MRR stated, “If the county doesn’t want us, we’re going to go somewhere else.”

In June 2008 during a referendum vote, 94 percent of voters voted against the dump.

In that same edition of the Herald, Rep. Jennings stated, “Marlboro County is struggling tremendously; we need some help; we need some money.” He also stated the mega-landfill “brings more positives than negatives.”

Citizens For Marlboro County has not given up. The group has continued to fight to keep this landfill out of Marlboro County. But at what cost?

In the lawsuit filed by Griffin and Harpootlian (the former head of the S.C. Democratic Party) for MRR, they are asking for a jury trial and for “punitive damages in an amount adequate to punish CMC for their reckless behavior and sufficient to deter CMC and others from similar conduct in the future.”

Sounds like MRR is saying: “Don’t mess with us now or in the future.”

Marlboro County Council, Planning Board, and Zoning Board of Appeals all denied MRR and Z.V. Pate their request to change the county zoning. That should have been enough for MRR.

Since the failure of the statewide moratorium last spring in Columbia, Rep. Jennings and Sens. Kent Williams, Gerald Malloy and Dick Elliott have been not only been publicly absent from most Marlboro County events but strangely silent on the issue of the Marlboro mega-dump.

Likewise, when CMC member John Nickoless made recent inquiries to U.S. Rep. John Spratt, Nickoless was told by the longtime Congressman that “he didn’t know too much about the issue, and he would have to get back to him at a later date,” and referred him back to Rep. Jennings.

Apparently, garbage isn’t the only thing that stinks in the State of South Carolina.

Brett Barnes is a resident of Marlboro County and a member of Citizens For Marlboro County.