Dumped tires are seen piled in a wooded area near Elloree, S.C. on Nov. 17, 2011. The tires started piling up on some county land in South Carolina, little by little, growing to a mound of about a million tires covering several acres of land. Officials say a $400 littering fine is hardly enough to deal with the problem. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Updated: December 22, 2011 8:11AM
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The sprawling pile of hundreds of thousands of tires isn’t easy to spot from the ground, sitting in a rural South Carolina clearing accessible by only a circuitous dirt path that winds through thick patches of trees. No one knows how all those tires got there, or when.
But, Calhoun County Council Chairman David Summers says of this giant rubber menace, “You can see it from space.”
Authorities have charged one person in connection with the mess of roughly 250,000 tires, which covers more than 50 acres on satellite images. And now a Florida company is helping haul it all away.
Litter control officer Boyce Till said he contacted the local sheriff and state health department, which is investigating who had been dumping the tires. But the worst possible penalty that could be imposed locally? A single $475 ticket for littering.
Records show the property is owned by Michael Keitt Jr. of Far Rockaway, N.Y.
A phone number for Keitt could not be found, but local officials said the man was one of several heirs to the property, all of whom live out of state.
As part of the state Department of Health and Environmental Control’s case, a state grand jury issued indictments against George Fontella Brown, 39, of Easley, on three charges of violating the state’s solid waste act, according to DHEC spokesman Adam Myrick. Those state charges carry much heftier possible penalties, including thousands of dollars in fines and up to a year in jail.
Myrick would not discuss details of the case against Brown, and a spokesman for state Attorney General Alan Wilson did not respond to messages. No working phone listing could be found for Brown, who also faces similar charges in Greenville and Orangeburg counties, and court records did not list an attorney for him.