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Concerns growing about amount of litter along S.C. roads during pandemic

There is a growing concern about the amount of litter along South Carolina’s roads.
There is a growing concern about the amount of litter along South Carolina’s roads.(Source: WYFF)
Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 6:09 AM EST
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SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WYFF) - There is a growing concern about the amount of litter along South Carolina’s roads.

“You go down any roadway and you can see it and it jumps up at you real quick,” Jamie Nelson, director of Environmental Enforcement Department in Spartanburg County, said. “You know our phones have been blistered here with people wanting to know why, what’s going on, why are we not doing anything.”

It’s been almost a year since inmates were out on South Carolina roads and highways picking up litter. South Carolina Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling said it’s not feasible with the pandemic.

“You put 11 or 10 inmates and one officer in a van, which is a confined space, and one of them had COVID, pretty soon all of them would have COVID, I’m not going to risk their lives,” said Stirling.

According to SCDC, in 2019 inmates cleared 9,886 interstate miles, 5,141 secondary road miles, and collected 107,282 bags of litter.

“Think about it, 220 people, five days a week, roughly out there eight hours a day, that adds up and that adds up to a lot of trash,” said Stirling.

This month Nelson is going in front of the Spartanburg County Council to ask for a county employee crew that picks up litter. He said the public is more than welcome to help out.

“It takes us all, you know, if you’re frustrated, come pick up some stuff, clean up,” said Nelson.

WYFF News 4 reached out to the South Carolina Department of Transportation to see how it’s addressing the litter issue. Pete Poore, director of communications for SCDOT, said contracted crews are upping their frequency of litter pickup on interstates in counties from once every other month to monthly.

Stirling shared when inmates may be able to get back to litter pickup.

“Hopefully soon, you know, in the next couple of months when we can get COVID behind us, they’ll be back out there with a vigor,” said Stirling.

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