South Carolina High Court Affirms County's Flow Control

Date: September 19, 2011

Source: News Room

The South Carolina Supreme Court has issued a ruling that affirms Horry County's flow control ordinance mandating that waste generated within the county be taken to the county's landfill. Private haulers with operations outside of the county filed a $25 million federal lawsuit against the county and the county's solid waste authority following the passage of its flow control ordinance in 2009. The plaintiffs, including Sandlands C&D Landfill and Express Waste Haulers argued that the county had created a monopoly since it was the only county in the state with flow control. The county countered that flow control was necessary to assure fees at its landfill, needed to help pay for recycling programs, and to protect the county and its citizens from the potential liability of contaminating out-of-county landfills. In its unanimous ruling, the high court said the county had the right to pass the ordinance, and that the state's Solid Waste Policy and Management Act of 1991 does not prohibit county regulation of solid waste management.

The plaintiffs had asked the court to adopt a rule giving the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) exclusive authority to regulate the entire field of solid waste management because a previous case ruled that DHEC controls landfill permitting. In that case, the court said it found explicit direction that DHEC controlled permitting, but found no such language regarding flow control.

The door to flow control was reopened by the Supreme Court in April, 2007 when it ruled on United Haulers Association v. Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Management Authority in upstate New York. There, the Court made the distinction between its earlier 1994 Carbone ruling by allowing municipalities that own their waste operations to dictate the destiny of waste generated within their jurisdictions. In that case, the Court decided that any burden on local commerce was outweighed by public benefit and that through their elected representatives, citizens could remedy that burden.

See also: "Horry County, SC Weighs Flow Control Measure," (

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