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U.S. EPA ORDERS CLEANUP OF SCRAPPED TIRES; 1 MILLION UNBURNED TIRES STILL REMAIN
Release Date: 2/19/1999
Contact Information: Paula Bruin, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1587
EMBARGOED UNTIL 7 A.M. MST FEBURARY 19, 1999
San Francisco (February 19, 1999) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued an enforcement action against Colinas Tire Recovery, Repco Waste Recovery, Inc. and seven Arizona Counties to remove 1 million unburned tires from Blackwater Industrial Park near Phoenix. The order becomes effective in 30 days on March 19, 1999. The order also requires the companies to clean up waste from 2 million tires that burned for several months in the fall of 1997.
"As long as those tires remain at the park, another catastrophic fire could occur," said Julie Anderson, director of the EPA's Waste Division. "Our main concern is ensuring this community can breathe easier, knowing the threat of another fire is gone."
The seven counties included in the enforcement action are: Cochise, Coconino, Maricopa, Mohave, Pinal, Yavapai, and Yuma.
The tire piles are located on ten acres of land on the Gila River Indian Reservation. The tires were stored at the site by a recycling contractor who was working for a consortium of Arizona counties in 1994. After going bankrupt, the contractor abandoned the site. Since then, the Gila River Indian community has tried to negotiate with the contractor and the counties to remove the tires.
EPA became involved after the devastating tire fire began in August 1997 and has worked to facilitate a settlement since June 1998. Although all parties were in discussions until the February 6 negotiation deadline, only Blackwater has signed
onto the agreement.
On August 1, 1997, approximately 2 million tires caught on fire at the site. Thick black smoke, intense heat and high winds created extreme conditions that hampered fire fighting efforts. The Gila River Indian community, Pinal County, and the State of Arizona declared a State of Emergency, spurring the evacuation of more than 300 people due to air quality concerns.
The site of the tire piles is two miles north of the city of Coolidge. The burned tires continue to smolder today.