New Guidebook Provides Solutions For Dealing With Scrap Tires

It is estimated that more than 290 million tires are scrapped each year in the United States. While 80 percent are being reused, millions have been accumulating in stockpiles over the past several decades, according to EPA.

To help state and local governments reduce the economic burdens and environmental risks associated with scrap tire piles on their landscapes, U.S. EPA Region 5 and Illinois EPA have collaborated to create the Scrap Tire Cleanup Guidebook. The guidebook brings together the experience of dozens of professionals in one resource designed to provide state and local officials -- as well as cleanup contractors -- with the information needed to effectively clean up scrap tire piles.

Large scrap tire stockpiles present a threat to human health and the environment for several reasons. They provide an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes, which can carry and transmit life-threatening diseases such as dengue fever, encephalitis, and the West Nile virus. Stockpiles may also catch fire as a result of lightning strikes, equipment malfunctions, or arson. The longer a stockpile is unabated, the more likely it is to catch fire.

The guidebook, which was unveiled on June 8, contains solutions including:

  • Examples of scrap tire cleanup programs and funding
  • Legal considerations and property issues
  • Cost recovery
  • Local and regional markets for scrap tires
  • Cleanup planning
  • Selecting contractors
  • Project management

The guidebook is rich with case studies highlighting many success stories. It can be found at http://www.epa.gov/reg5rcra/wptdiv/solidwaste/tires/guidance. In addition to the guidebook, many resources are available to those tackling a scrap tire problem, including presentations from several scrap tire forums, information on technical issues concerning scrap tires, and end-use markets. See http://www.epa.gov/reg5rcra/wptdiv/solidwaste/tires/index.htm.

Currently, no federal laws or regulations exist that specifically define a "scrap tire" or address scrap tire management. Therefore, readers should contact the appropriate state agency to determine state-specific requirements and identify applicable cleanup or abatement programs, U.S. EPA stated.

This article originally appeared in the 06/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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