County seeks state cleanup funds

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 15, 1999

ATHALIA – Lawrence and Scioto County Solid Waste Management District officials should know within weeks whether or not they will have enough state funding to continue with the Athalia tire pile cleanup project.

Wednesday, September 15, 1999

ATHALIA – Lawrence and Scioto County Solid Waste Management District officials should know within weeks whether or not they will have enough state funding to continue with the Athalia tire pile cleanup project.

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County officials decided to clean the property after several attempts and the incarceration of the original tire pile owner failed to get rid of the tires that sit beside Ohio 7 near Athalia.

The solid waste agency has applied for money from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Special Environmental Project fund to clean up the land, which was originally owned by David Jackson, who is serving an eight-year jail term for illegal dumping.

Brian Fancher, of Fancher Industries, bought the land shortly after the court battle in hopes of recycling the tires. He later discovered that recycling the tires is impossible because the tires had been burned, said David Sheets, solid waste management district manager.

The Athalia project already received $10,000 from the environmental fund to begin cleanup earlier this year, Sheets said.

"The cleanup was done in the last week of April," Sheets said. "We spent $10,000 and removed a third of the tires. The estimated cost for the rest of the cleanup is about $38,000. We’re still in the process of getting some additional money to complete the cleanup there."

The 130,000-tire Athalia dump is the worst site of its kind in the county, Sheets said. But, it is not the only area in need of cleanup.

"I just received notice of another tire pile this morning," he said. "There’s one on Tabor Ridge, just off Ohio 243 between Getaway and Sunrise. There are about 250 tires there."

Tires, unlike other solid waste items, must be disposed of separately in their own landfill or designated area. That’s what makes them so expensive to get rid of, Sheets said.

"We have to haul the Athalia tires all the way to Pike Sanitation in Waverly," he said. "They can only put tires in this particular landfill. There are specific regulations as to how these tires are to be managed."

There also is a local transfer facility in Chesapeake, Sheets added.

Iron Valley will take tires for $1.50 a tire and transport them to Olive Hill, Ky., where there is a proper disposal facility, he said.

Problems arise when someone stores tires improperly and illegally, Sheets said.

"Large tire piles are created by people picking up tires from filling stations and dealers and storing them instead of properly destroying them," he said. "I don’t understand why anyone would want to store tires."

There are ways to legally store spare tires, however, Sheets said.

"One, it has to be in small quantities," he said. "And they have to be either covered or stored within a building so they don’t get stagnant water in them. Tires with stagnant water in them make an excellent breeding ground for mosquitoes."

Two specific species of mosquitoes, which can carry encephalitis, have been found in the area, Sheets said. They are the Eastern Treehole mosquito and the Asian Tiger mosquito.

The treehole mosquito has been a resident of the area for many years, but the tiger mosquito is rather new, and never would have come to America if not for tires, Sheets said.

"The Asian – we didn’t have it, we brought it here," he said. "They were shipping in tires from out of the country for recycling. They landed in St. Louis, Mo., and they spread."

But more danger can be found in a tire pile, Sheets said. There also is the constant threat of a tire fire.

The Athalia tire pile caught fire twice – in October 1995 and December 1996 – which cost the Rome Township Volunteer Fire Department thousands of dollars.

"I think they estimated $10,000 for the last one," Sheets said. "Tire fires are very difficult to put out. They also put out poisonous fumes, so it makes them very dangerous."

Burned rubber is even more difficult to dispose of than regular tires, which makes the Athalia tire dump that much more expensive to clean up, Sheets added.

And state assistance can be hard to come by, when other state tire piles are larger and more of a threat to people.

"The state has a tire abatement fund where every tire sold costs 50 cents more, which goes into the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Tire Abatement fund to clean up more dangerous sites around the state," Sheets said.

Money from this fund helped to clean up a tire pile on Ohio 141 in October 1998, he said.

And funds are currently being used to clean up 20 million tires in Wyandot County, he said.

"It’ll take a while to clean that one up," he said. "It’ll be years before they get around to doing Athalia under the abatement fund."

And seeking money from the current owner, Fancher, likely will not happen because he does not have the funds needed, Sheets said.

Sheets hasn’t given up on finding more state money for the project, though.

"It shouldn’t be very much longer until we find out if we will get additional funding," he said. "The deadline for applications has already passed. They are looking at different proposals, and we should know within a few weeks."