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July 16, 2008

 

DEC Comitts to Improvement on Waste Tire Cleanups

DEC Agrees with Need for Progress at Major Sites in Suffolk and Saratoga
In New York State, 18 to 20 Million Tires Discarded Each Year


The State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) did not track the state’s progress toward meeting its goal to clean up waste tire sites by the end of 2010, according to an audit released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The audit, which covered the period from Sept. 12, 2004 to Sept. 30, 2006, also found that DEC had made little progress toward remediation of two major tire dumps in Saratoga and Suffolk Counties. DiNapoli noted that current DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis has made a strong commitment to improve the program and reach the 2010 goal.

“Waste tires aren’t just an eyesore,” DiNapoli said. “These dump sites are extremely volatile safety and environmental hazards. In New York State, 18 to 20 million tires are discarded each year. All those tires become breeding grounds for mosquitoes and diseases like West Nile virus, and when they burn, they burn bad, polluting the air and nearby groundwater. These sites are supposed to be in compliance by 2010. Our audit found that under the prior administration, there wasn’t much progress toward that goal. Since he came on board, DEC Commissioner Grannis has taken our audit recommendations seriously and he has stepped up efforts to get there.”

DiNapoli’s auditors examined clean up, or abatement, efforts at the five largest sites in the state in violation of existing laws and regulations. The five sites held about 21 million waste tires, two-thirds of the total stored at the 115 noncompliant sites identified by DEC.

Auditors found that as of September 2006, only one site, Cycletech in Columbia County, with 2.3 million tires, had been completely abated and another, Hornburg Tire in Chautauqua, with 1.8 million tires, was close to being cleaned up. Some progress had been made at a third site, Fortino in Oswego County, but little or no progress was made at the two other sites – New York Tire/Izzo Property in Suffolk County and Mohawk Tire Recycling in Saratoga County. The sites hold 2 million and 6.8 million waste tires respectively.

“DEC shares Comptroller DiNapoli’s concerns and has made great progress in addressing the environmental and health hazards presented by waste tire sites,” said Commissioner Grannis. “Since the audit period closed, the program has been in overdrive. We have completed work at the Hornburg site, removed 8.4 million of the 9.4 million tires at the Fortino site and 2.8 million of the more than 6 million tires at the Mohawk site. Further, DEC is on target for meeting the 2010 abatement deadline.”

DEC is required under the Waste Tire Management and Recycling Act of 2003 to develop individual abatement schedules for every noncompliant site. DiNapoli’s office discovered DEC had not done so and there was no way to measure the state’s progress in meeting the Dec. 31, 2010 abatement deadline.

According to Department records, as of September 2006, abatement was completed or nearly completed at 37 of the 58 owner-controlled sites and at two of the 37 Department-controlled sites. Responsibility for cleanup was still being negotiated for the other 20 sites.

In its oversight of clean up activities, DEC coordinates with the Office of General Services (OGS) and the Department of Transportation (DOT). OGS awards abatement contracts and monitors the contractors while DOT picks up shredded tire material that meets its specifications for highway construction projects.

The audit recommends that DEC:

  • maintain critical documentation of the abatement process and monitor the contractors’ progress
  • develop alternative disposal plans for tire shreds that meet DOT’s specifications, but cannot be used by DOT in a timely manner
  • work more closely with DOT to reduce delays in the removal of tire shreds from waste sites
  • develop written procedures to guide staff responsible for resolving disputes with noncompliant owners
  • move as quickly as possible to abate the New York Tire/Izzo property

In response to the audit, DEC officials noted they have made progress on several of these recommendations, and had made major strides toward finding alternative uses for the shredded tires. In addition, DEC has appointed two attorneys to supervise the abatement program and to resolve disputes with site owners. DEC’s full response is included in the audit.

Click here for a copy of the audit.

Click here for a copy of the Waste Tire Abatement Sites.

 

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