Tire Dumping in Amarillo—A problem in search of solutions

_MTI posted a column recently about the tire dumping problem in Amarillo. Complaining about something is easy to do. But as a community, we need to start to solve this blight and potential health risk from disease bearing mosquitoes. So how have other communities dealt with this problem?

The Rubber Manufacturers Association, located at 1400 K Street NW. Washington, D. C, 20005, has written a “Briefing Sheet” entitled, “Scrap Tire Management Council Briefing Sheet. It can be accessed at this website: http://www.rma.org/download/scrap-tires/general/PAG-013%. The briefing sheet is entitled, “What Can Be Done to Limit Tire Dumping. The briefing paper points out the problem of “fly dumping,” “wildcat dumping,” or “nuisance dumping” of old scrap tires all over the country. It is more than an Amarillo problem. According to the briefing sheet: “Cleaning up these nuisance piles is time consuming and expensive; moreover, just as one gets cleaned up, it seems another gets started someplace else.”

The briefing paper says that “Scrap tires get dumped for several reasons: poor enforcement of anti-littering and anti-dumping laws; lack of easily available alternative, and tire jockeys trying to make a few bucks by illegally dumping tires, rather than paying tip fees. Unlicensed tire jockeys figure they can get away with illegal dumping because no one is enforcing the laws. In many cases, it is the tire consumer illegally dumping tires. Around 15 percent of scrap tires are taken back by or returned to consumers. Many never make it back home with the consumer.” This is the same thing that I mentioned in my previous article about consumers who don’t want to pay the $2 fee disposal fee to a tire dealer, but instead takes the scrap tires back home—or to the nearest alley or vacant lot.

If you read the Briefing Sheet, you will see that there are many environmental and health concerns from dumped tires, including disease carrying pests, especially mosquitoes that can carry encephalitis and dengue fever. Some areas where tires are stockpiles run the risk of fires and the difficulty of extinguishing tire fires and the highly contaminant smoke.

The Briefing Sheet mentions several “Anti-Dumping Programs” including, (1) Tire Amnesty Days, in which local citizens can bring a limited number of tires to a drop-off site free of charge. Getting financial help from State scrap tire removal programs is a way to help cities with this problem. (2) Public Education, such as these articles to help the general public understand the environmental and health risks of illegal tire dumping. (3) Drop off-sites. The article states that some cities allow citizens to drop-off limited numbers of tires at recycling drop-off centers because it is less expensive to allow consumers to drop off tires than to pay city workers to clean them up from alleys and public streets and lands. (4) Enforcement, namely anti-litter and anti-tire dumping laws with teeth in enforcement. (5) Clean-up Programs, where a coalition of interested parties come together to help resolve the problem. (6) Multi-Agency Cooperation, including using the Department of Corrections or community service time offenders to assist in clean-up programs. (7) Build a Community Team, of property owners, residents, community groups, local business and government and the media, to publicize efforts to eliminate illegal dumping and tire dumps. Community groups can work to clean up neighborhoods as well as report illegal tire dumpers. (8) Prosecute and Publicize—when someone is apprehended for dumping tires, publicize the event—and prosecute. Let the community know that dumpers will be caught and there will be penalties to pay.

The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA has a resource entitled, “Illegal Dumping Prevention Guidebook.” Oklahoma State University publishes a “Guidebook for Community Convenience Centers: One Solution to Illegal Roadside Dumping.” Pennsylvania Clean Ways publishes a booklet entitled, “Cleaning Up Your Neighborhood and Keeping it Clean: Eliminating Dumps and Litter.”

The tire and litter problem in Amarillo is a problem in search of a solution. As Amarillo grows, as a city its image is no greater than its worst neighborhoods. As Amarillo moves forward to revitalize the downtown area, the same amount of effort being exerted by a “coalition of financial and investment interests” should be equally concerned about the “ring of blight” that will be within a stone’s throw of new facilities. Amarillo as a community needs leaders who can see beyond a range of “limited interests.” Amarillo needs to address its litter and tire dumping problem. Amarillo needs a better image than a “big ole nasty cow town.”

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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