The operator of a Chester County landfill that has been smoldering since November will remain free as he faces charges of breaking South Carolina’s solid waste law.
Ronald Ray Olsen was released on a $100,000 personal recognizance bond after appearing in state court Thursday in Lancaster County, according to the S.C. Attorney General’s office. The criminal charges he faces are misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in prison or up to a $10,000 fine, the Attorney General’s office said.
Olsen pleaded not guilty. Attempts to reach Olsen’s attorney were unsuccessful Thursday. No trial date has been set.
“Because this matter is pending before the court, it would be inappropriate to comment at this time,” Attorney General’s office spokesman Mark Powell said.
Olsen’s landfill, perched along the banks of the Broad River near Lockhart, has been smoking since it caught fire in early November. The smoldering waste dump has at times inundated the town of Lockhart with smoke. The Union County mill town of 500 people is in South Carolina’s Upstate.
Olsen is accused of violating the state’s solid waste management law. He failed to maintain proper cleanup money for landfills he operates, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control says. Olsen withdrew the money from a financial institution in 2008, according to the agency. DHEC says it did not confirm that the money had been withdrawn until 2014.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced it would use more than $1 million in federal Superfund money to try and extinguish the fire during the next three months. Regulators have found toxic material in some of the air samples.
State Reps. Dennis Moss and Mike Anthony said the burning dump has caused plenty of discomfort for residents of the community.
“It’s just been a difficult situation,” Anthony, D-Union, said. “I’ve never seen anything like this, never seen anything smolder as long.”