About 600 households in Richland County had trash pickup problems last month that turned into what the county on Tuesday called a “trash debacle.”
The problems stemmed from converting the pick up of trash, recycling and yard debris to new waste-hauling companies, according to the county spokeswoman and a news release issued days after The State newspaper inquired last week about the difficulties.
The pickup problems were compounded when an apology letter from the county administrator was altered and sent to thousands of customers not affected by the changes.
An unidentified county employee has been disciplined for approving the altered letter, which contained misspellings and a digitized version of administrator Gerald Seals’ signature, according to the county. Seals personally signs his correspondence, the news release stated.
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Spokeswoman Beverly Harris said Friday the affected communities are in waste pickup Areas 3 and 6.
Area 3, she said Tuesday, includes approximately from Germany Street north to Rabon Road, stretching to areas around Blythewood and the Fairfield County line. Area 6 reaches approximately from Columbia’s city limits east along Garners Ferry Road to S.C. 601 – including Horrell Hill Road, parts of Old Eastover Road – north to Hunting Creek and southeast back to Garners Ferry.
The new hauling company for Area 3 is Capital Waste Services, Harris said. Area 6 is now covered by Allwaste Services. They replaced Advanced Disposal Services, she said.
County Council terminated the Area 6 contract with Advanced Disposal in May and did not renew the company’s contract for Area 3, the spokeswoman said. Both contracts were to end on Dec. 31, 2016.
The switch to new haulers created a gap and caused confusion. Some pickups were missed by drivers for the haulers, the county said. Some residents put out their roll carts at the wrong times. Collection schedules changed.
Complaints resulted in an internal investigation, according to the news release.
“Staff determined that miscommunication between departments led to the mass mail-out. ... the contractor hired to do the mail-out altered the letter to accommodate its use of envelopes with windows,” the county said. That produced the spelling errors and the digitized signature.
Service has returned to regular schedules as of Jan. 30, the county said.