Some residents return home after weeks of relocation to Jasper Co.

ByLyndsey Gough|September 25, 2019 at 6:24 PM EDT - Updated September 25 at 7:01 PM

JASPER COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - Some neighbors are back in their homes after months of being relocated due to a smoldering pile of debris in Jasper County that at one point was emitting toxic gas.

Trucks have been in and out of Schinger Avenue day after day, working to haul off the pile of building materials that at one time stood 90 feet tall. The debris pile is slowly but surely shrinking.

“We’ve removed, to date, approximately 6,800 tons of material. We’re guessing there’s around 60,000 tons of material on-site, so we’ve removed about a tenth of it," said Terry Tanner, On-Scene Coordinator, EPA Emergency Response.

Carina Curiel was forced to relocate to a hotel for weeks. Wednesday, she confirmed with WTOC that they were allowed to move back to their home on Saturday, after they got word from the EPA.

“We’ve been monitoring the response now for several months and have some idea of the air quality, and we’ve been watching that and wanted to make sure that not only the air was safe for our workers on-site, which is a concern, but also for the air in the community as well, and during that time, we haven’t seen anything that would say, ‘hey, we need to continue to keep people out of their homes,' Tanner said. "Now occasionally, you will see fire coming from the site and it will emanate a little bit of smoke. That’s less and less as time goes by, but still, it’s an annoyance, and I realize that.”

Another annoyance for neighbors is the constant traffic of trucks in and out of the site, which Curiel called a “rat race,” but as she put it in text message to WTOC, she would rather see the debris going out on trucks rather than coming in, like it was just a few months ago.

As for a timeline, that’s still up in the air.

“Not sure. It depends on how many trucks we can run out of here, and the frequency for that,” Tanner said.

While the EPA continues to monitor the air quality near the site, Beaufort County Schools says the air quality monitor at Okatie Elementary School - just three quarters of a mile away - is also still in place.

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