TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Fred Madden trying to prevent illegal dumping of scrap tires and the hazards associated with this practice cleared the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today.
“This is legislation geared toward environmental protection,” said Senator Madden (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Scrap tire stockpiles are not only an eyesore, but also pose a serious environmental and public health threat. In particular, scrap tire stockpiles represent a significant fire safety threat. If a fire is ignited, scrap tire fires are difficult to extinguish and can often cause air pollution and other hazards. We need to find a safer way to dispose of these tires for both a community’s value and the environmental impact.”
The bill, S-2422, would require the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to establish a system for the manifesting, tracking, recycling, and disposal of scrap tires. Furthermore, it would require that all scrap tires be recycled or reused and would prohibit their disposal as solid waste. In addition, the bill would require any person engaging in scrap tire collection to be licensed by the DEP.
From 2013 to 2016, the Department of Environmental Protection conducted an audit. Department officials visited 26 of the known major scrap tire sites that were previously identified as dangerous, and in most cases remediated, to determine if new accumulations of tires had developed. Their investigation found 18 of the 26 sites did not comply with state regulations and require additional remediation efforts. In addition, 11 new tire sites were identified and also determined to be noncompliant. In total, the department estimates that these 29 sites contain approximately 350,000 to 565,000 scrap tires.
Despite the increasing number of legal options available to generators of scrap tires, illegal dumping remains a significant problem. Often, illegal dumping on a well-concealed site continues unabated for years until a large stockpile is created and ultimately discovered by local officials. The owners of scrap tire stockpile sites are often unable to pay cleanup costs and fines, are deceased or have disappeared. As a result, most stockpiles remain intact and in need of attention.
It is estimated that 8.4 million scrap tires are generated each year in New Jersey. Scrap tires generated in New Jersey are managed at several facilities, as well as numerous out-of-State facilities. Major in-state scrap tire management facilities include both processors and storage and transfer operations. Scrap tires processed in New Jersey are marketed as playground cover material, equestrian track surfacing, alternative fuel and for civil engineering applications, among other things.
Further environmental concerns involve the mosquito problems that are associated with scrap tire stockpiles. Abandoned scrap tires are perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes because rainwater can easily get into the tires, creating the small stagnant pools needed for mosquito propagation.
“Taking these steps now can help our communities, our environment and can have a major positive impact on the future of our state,” the Senator added.
The bill would prohibit any person from knowingly disposing of a scrap tire as solid waste on or after January 1, 2017.
S-2422 cleared the committee and will now head to the full Senate for further consideration.