Alabama Cleans Up State's Largest Tire Dump

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The Alabama Department of Environmental Management announced that it finished removing almost 8 million tires from a former scrap tire facility in Attalla, a project that took three years to complete and cost an estimated $7 million.

Tire stockpiles are suitable breeding grounds for vermin. Tires collect large pools of water, the perfect atmosphere for mosquitoes, which can carry diseases like encephalitis or dengue fever. Photo: Auto.howstuffworks.com

Tire stockpiles are excellent breeding grounds for vermin. Tires collect large pools of water, the perfect atmosphere for mosquitoes, which can carry diseases like encephalitis or dengue fever. Photo: Auto.howstuffworks.com

During the removal process, more than 80 percent of the 82 million pounds of scrap tires was diverted from landfills. Common uses for scrap tires include shredding them to use for surfacing and soil additives, as well as converting them to tire-derived fuel to power factories.

The ADEM estimates that the 8 million tires represent almost 40 percent of Alabama’s scrap tire volume, and it is the first time that a scrap tire pile has been cleaned up in Alabama. To recognize the achievement, the ADEM held a ceremony with state and local leaders in attendance.

Tire piles can be seen as a way of stockpiling the rubber until another disposal method becomes available. However, these piles can be dangerous if they catch fire, as the flames are very difficult to extinguish and release hazardous black smoke into the environment.

In the case of Alabama, the business that was collecting the tires filed for bankruptcy and abandoned the tires. The state responded by passing the Scrap Tire Environmental Quality Act in 2003, which charged consumers $1 for each tire sold in Alabama. The money raised helps to fund scrap tire clean ups, and the law also helped tighten the permitting process for businesses that accept scrap tires.

The state has yet to decide what will become of the now vacant land, or which scrap tire site it will clean up next.

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Trey Granger

Trey Granger is a former senior waste stream analyst for Earth911.
Trey Granger

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