Tire Dumping Around Amarillo—Is there a solution?

_DTAThis is starting to sound like a broken record, but tire dumping around Amarillo is a problem that needs a solution. The rain and hail yesterday was enough to cause water to accumulate in dumped tires. Next will come warmer weather—and mosquitoes—and who knows what kind of health hazard bites these critters will inflict on this.

I decided to call several Amarillo tire dealers to see how they handle old tires. Peerless Tires on Amarillo Blvd said that they have a contract with an Oklahoma company to pick up their old tires. The manager said there used to be two companies picking up tires in Amarillo but one went out of business. He said that tire dealers are what the state of Texas calls “generators” of used tires, and, disposal of tires must be done through a licensed dealer. The problem is that more tires are being generated for disposal than available disposal resources. The Peerless manager said that his contractor is behind picking up his tires because after two or three stops at other Amarillo tire “generators” the truck is full. He has over 1000 used tires ready for pick up right now. And he said that sometimes individuals toss old tires onto his tire lot to get rid of them. Peerless charges a fee of $2.50 for customers who want to leave old tires behind. And for customers who don’t want to pay this per-tire fee they will leave with old tires—and often these tires end up toss in alleys, on vacant lots or tossed in roadways—anything to get rid of them without paying. But Peerless is already stocked to its limit with old tires ready for pickup and doesn’t want anymore tires.

Another company, Autco said that they too have a contractor that picks up their old tires. Autco will actually come to your house or alley and pick up tires—for a fee of $6 per tire plus a $25 service call. But Autco will not take larger tractor-type tires. Autco charges $2.00 per tire for anyone wanting to take old tires to them for pickup by their contractor. Autco then pays a contractor to pick up its tires. Discount Tires tries to “triage” tires re-selling good used tires and tossing the bad ones. It too has a contract for tire pickup one per week.

I called the City Landfill and was told that tires can be brought to 16250 Bezner Road. Tires under 17 inches are $1.50 to dump and tires between 18 and 24 inches costs $4.50 to dump. The landfill has a huge pile of used tires, and they too, use a contractor from Oklahoma to pick up its tires.

So here’s the problem—a growing problem—more used tires are being generated in Amarillo than can be legally disposed of by tire dealers. And, if a customer chooses not to pay a tire dealer to dispose of tires, these “bad” tires leave with customers. Well, we know the rest of the story, these bad tires get tossed in alleys, on vacant lots, and on roadways. Add to this, small “mom and pop” tire dealers who may actually pay someone to haul off their tires—but instead of taking the tires to the landfill or to a tire generator or tire handler for “legal pickup,” these people wait until dark and sling tires in alleys and in vacant lots.

I decided to “Google” “disposal of used tires” and found this website: http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/tires/faq.htm. This is the Federal Environmental Protection Agency website. There is a Frequently Asked Question section on disposing of tires. Disposal of used tires is regulated by state laws. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, TCEQ, oversees the collection, processing and recycling or disposal of over 22 million Texas tires discarded each year. Scrap tires must be managed to prevent fires and control disease vectors (mosquitoes, rats, and snakes). Anyone who stores more than 500 scrap tires must register with the TCEQ; however, the scrap tire rules apply to all generators and handlers, regardless of whether they are registered. Good reusable tires are not considered to be scrap tires if they are stacked, sorted, classified, and arranged in an organized manner for sale. Scrap tires must be hauled by a registered transporter to an authorized facility, either a permitted landfill or a scrap-tire storage or processing facility. All such facilities must keep records of manifest showing the disposition of scrap tires. Generators must: Monitor tires stored outside, at least once every two weeks, to assure vector control; Stack, sort, classify, and arrange good reusable tires in an organized manner for sale; Document the removal of all scrap tires using manifests, work orders, invoices, or other records; Allow only registered scrap tire transporters to remove their scrap tires; Ensure that the transporter who collects the tires delivers them to an authorized facility; Still comply with all manifesting requirements if transporting their own scrap tires without registration

So what can be done about Amarillo’s tire dumping problem. Well, we know that the City of Amarillo can cite homeowners for accumulated junk in alleys behind their homes, which includes old tires—that the City will not pick up as part of trash collection. But after a homeowner gets a citation to abate the nuisance of junk tires, do these homeowners properly dispose of these scrap tires, or, haul them off and sling then down their neighbor’s alley? It is absolutely illegal to dump old tires in a dumpster or anywhere else in Amarillo. Dumped tires pose health and environmental quality issues: The TCEQ’s website says this: “Disease carrying pests such rodents can inhabit tire piles. Mosquitoes can also breed in the stagnant water that collects inside tires. Several varieties of mosquitoes can carry deadly diseases, including encephalitis and dengue fever. Tire fires also release thick black smoke and air pollutants, and ground and surface water pollution that can be harmful to human health and the environment.”

One tire dealer says that dumped tires are a growing problem in Amarillo; a problem that is already out of hand. He said that the City Commission needs to address this problem now as it will only become worse. I am in complete agreement. While the City is busy rebuilding downtown Amarillo to house a baseball park and a very expense hotel/parking complex maybe some attention should be paid to the raggedy state of affairs with dumped tires—less than a mile from City Hall. How is it that our elected officials can totally ignore the potential looming health problem from dumped tires, yet, spend so much time on “high falutin” projects that only a few citizens may benefit from? Or is this what we get with an “at large” city council that is responsive to no one but the few voters that brung them” into office?

Copyright 2015 – L. Arthalia Cravin. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.

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