JEFFERSON CITY - Tired of old tires? The Department of Natural Resources recently announced a program to help Missouri landowners clean up illegal tire dumps on their property at a fraction of the cost.
As havens and breeding places for mosquitoes, rats and other disease carriers, illegal tire dumps have long been known to pose serious environmental and health issues.
"They are definitely significant - especially with the West Nile Virus," said Byron Murray, planner for the DNR's waste tire unit.
Additionally, fires at tire dumps release hazardous substances to the air, soil and water sources.
Residents who report illegal waste tires on their property involving between 500-20,000 passenger tires or the equivalent in larger tires by April 30 become eligible to have them removed at approximately 10 percent of the current actual costs of removal.
This program was recommended by the Waste Tire Advisory Council "to clean up the smaller sites more quickly," Murray explained. The WTAC, made up of stakeholders in waste tire disposal industry and state legislators, advises the DNR on different types of strategies to clean up waste tire sites. "Larger tire sites require more coordination because of the magnitude of the site, and they must go through the state bidding process," said Murray. DNR lists 15 illegal sites with over 20,000 tires in Missouri, according to Murray.
Projects involving fewer than 20,000 tires, however, can be contracted directly with the Missouri Department of Correction's Missouri Vocational Enterprises program. The inmates who provide the labor for the cleanups are typically minor offenders who are close to being released, according to Murray.
Murray said the minimum number for the program was set at 500 tires to make cleanups cost-effective.
Businesses that generate or collect waste tires in the normal course of business activities are eligible as well but will also be required to pay an additional amount.
Between now and Jan. 1 when the cleanups are slated to begin, DNR officials will visit and record estimates on the number of tires at each site.
"The property owner pays their 10 percent in advance of initiating the actual cleanup," Murray said.
Under this program, the owner pays approximately 20 cents per passenger tire equivalent. A passenger tire is defined as having a bead diameter of 16 inches or less and weighing about 20 pounds. Large truck tires weighing about 100 pounds like those used on semi tractors and trailers count as five pte's.
At 20 cents per tire, the landowner's 10-percent cost will run from $100 for 500-tire dumps to $4,000 for the largest eligible tire dumps. "If a site has tires on rims, that increases the price slightly," said Murray. "Other than that, the bottom line is to remove the tires from the environment."
Tires gathered during this program will be made into fuel for use primarily at the University of Missouri at Columbia.
DNR already knows of 64 sites with 500-20,000 tires that they have been working toward getting cleaned up. Those sites may participate in this program as well but may be required to pay a minimal penalty to initiate the clean up on their site in addition to the 10-percent recovery cost, Murray said.
Since announcing the program Nov. 1, DNR has already been notified of nearly 20 additional illegal tire dump sites eligible for this program, Murray said, and officials hope to continue adding sites to their list as word gets out about the program. "We encourage people to come forward and let us know about the sites so we can clean them up," said Murray.
There are other programs available for those with fewer than 500 tires such as the Non-profit Organizational Cleanup program which will reimburse qualified groups up to $2 per tire, according to Murray.
Murray said those interested should visit their website at www.dnr.state.mo.us/alpd/swmp/tirecost.h... for more information on this program and for the required DNR forms.
Area counties also regularly hold "tire roundups" that residents can take advantage of if they just have few a tires to dispose of.
Another option to consider for those with just a few tires, according to Murray: "Whole tires are restricted from landfills, but if you cut the tire in half like a bagel the tire can be put in a dumpster and taken to a landfill."
The tires can also be disposed of in landfills if they are cut like a pie into thirds of if the sidewalls are completely cut out.
Murray explained that unless they are prepared with one of the above methods, tires are restricted from landfills because they collect gas and rise, damaging landfill liners.
Tire cleanups are funded by the state's 50-cent-per-tire waste tire fee which is set to expire Jan 1, 2004.
"If that happens there will not be a fund to pay for these types of cleanups in the future," said Murray. "The fund is also used to regulate the waste tire industry as well."
So far, 10.4 million tires across Missouri have been cleaned up with the funds from this fee.