By Mario Conde
California has more registered vehicles than any other State. As a result, approximately 44.8 million reusable and waste tires are generated each year. It is estimated that fewer than 250,000 waste tires remain in stockpiles through the state. These stockpiles pose a potential threat to public health. CalRecylcle has developed and funded a variety of programs to ensure that used and waste tires are being managed appropriately to protect public health and environment. Legislation to regulate waste tires passed thirty years ago because it caused wild fires north of the state that cost millions of dollars to California. These State tire programs are funded by a fee $1.75 on each new tire sold in the State of California.
The Imperial County Health Department is in charge of the enforcement for the County and the department has made 276 inspections in the last half of year of used waste tires facilities to ensure proper management and transport tires. “There are public health issues caused by waste tires such as fire hazards and threat to air and water quality since ignited tires can release hazardous gases, heavy metals, and oils.” Said Danny Silva,County Environmental Compliance Technician. Silva said that on Kloke and HWY 98 in Calexico there is a lot of illegal dumping of tires in the area.
Silva added that waste tires create a habitat of breeding ground rodents, insects or other vermin that carry diseases and increased breeding of mosquitoes that can transmit the West Nile Virus due to the shape and impermeability of tires that can hold water for long periods of time. The County of Imperial passed an ordinance in 2009 that punish individuals to dump waste on right-of-way an infraction of $250. A second violation will be a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in county jail for not more than six months and a citation of no more than $1,000.
Lars Seifert, Environmental Health Services Manager said the Public Health Department has initiated a multi-agency Illegal Dumping Task Force to address the illegal dumping problem in the County, focusing primarily on increasing enforcement efforts in collaboration with CHP and local police to prevent illegal tire dumping and public awareness.
“People need to know about the consequences of illegally dumping tires around the valley.” He said, “It takes away your working time for going to court for three days, attorney fees, and possibly jail time for someone that dumps tires.” Seifert said. County officials suggest to citizens to contact the Imperial Valley Resource Management Agency to have tires collected if they have been illegally disposed along roadways or vacant properties at 1-877-RECYCLE or Environmental Health at 1-800-465-9007.