“I think a lot of it is ignorance, that people don’t realize how much harm you can do to the environment by dumping a tire,” said Brian Fowls, community program specialist for Montgomery County Environmental Services. “Now, dumping just one tire is a felony.”
Officials stress the importance of these efforts because discarded tires are breeding grounds for mosquitoes that can carry potentially harmful viruses. Also, fires involving old tires are especially difficult to extinguish.
By the early 1990s, Ohio moved to erase damage created by discarded tires and focused on cleanup. Those cleanup efforts have come in several sizes. In 2011, ODNR awarded $115,000 to the Greene County Combined Health District for cleanup of a site in Spring Valley Twp. that eventually totaled 94,300 tires weighing about 944 tons.
The health district used the money to hire Liberty Tire Recycling to collect the tires and haul them to the company’s Grove City facility near Columbus. The process included using a backhoe outfitted with a claw to transfer the tires into a large truck. The process took several weeks, said Mark Isaacson, program manager for water, sewage and solid waste for the health district.
“The open dumping of tires, where they’re throwing tires along the road or some back street, isn’t that big of an issue right now in Greene County,” Isaacson said. “What we have in this county are (offices) working with property owners to clean up the scrap tires collected on their property before (they purchased it).”
State money has also helped prevent the building of large scrap sites. The City of Carlisle last year received an ODNR grant for $10,000 to establish a short-term scrap tire recycling program for residents. The city had operated a similar short-term program five years earlier, so it didn’t anticipate as large a response from the grant-funded effort, said Greg Wallace, Carlisle’s planning and zoning administrator.
The grant paid for Carlisle to hire Rumpke Waste and Recycling, which collected the discarded tires in dumpsters, transported them and disposed of them.
“I didn’t think five years had been long enough to have that many tires come in, but it was a big response,” Wallace said. “You get everything from tractor tires to semi tires to small lawnmower tires.
“It’s a great opportunity for smaller communities. It’s expensive. In a smaller community, we would not have been able to do it (without a grant).”
Others have organized to battle the issue. In Montgomery County, the cities of Dayton and Trotwood as well as Jefferson Twp., the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County formed the Don’t Dump Tires Task Force in 2011. It has worked to create awareness while focusing on enforcement, using a state grant to install security cameras in trouble areas. Next year, it will pay to assign a full-time sheriff’s deputy to investigating dump sites.
Officials hope their efforts will lead to prosecutions as well as a decrease in dumping as the public gains a better understanding of the issue.
“The idea is to hopefully educate people in those aspects and really make a dent in the illegal dump sites,” Fowls said. “Not just tires, but dump sites in general. That’s the next step.”