If the state Department of Environmental Protection has its way, an infamous landmark of roadside New Jersey will become only a memory.
Working with local officials, the DEP is moving to cleanup millions of tires from the largest tire dumps remaining in the state and located in Atlantic, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties.
"At one time, tire dumps, some comprised of what seemed to be endless hills of rolling rubber, scarred many parts of New Jersey's landscape, especially in South Jersey," DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said Thursday. "Throughout the years, millions of tires have been removed and tire dumps cleaned up. Now, ... we are removing the last remnants of these unsightly dumps once and for all."
In addition to being eyesores, Martin said tire dumps provide breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes. They also provide a source of fuel for stubborn fires that can pollute air and water.
South Jersey had a larger share of illegal tire dumps due to the region's remoteness and availability of large tracts of undeveloped land. The dumps typically popped up decades ago around scrap yards.
Under an initiative begun last year, the DEP provided Atlantic, Burlington, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties with project grants through its shared agreements under the County Environmental Health Act. The counties issued cleanup contracts.
The property owners lacked funds to do the work, failed to comply with cleanup orders, or have abandoned the property. The counties have made arrangements to recoup the expenditures through proceeds from any future sales of the properties. The DEP has requested the counties to use any recovered money on future solid-waste cleanup programs.
These cleanup projects are under way or have been completed:
- The Salem County Improvement Authority oversaw the removal of an estimated 200,000 tires at the 23-acre Gates Tire Recycling Inc. property, located along Route 620 in Mannington. The DEP reimbursed the county $200,000 for the cleanup. Contractor Magnus Environmental Corp. shredded the tires at its Wilmington, Del. facility for use at the Salem County Landfill. The project was completed last year.
- Using $50,000 allocated by the DEP, the Atlantic County Division of Public Health is removing the remaining 20,000 tires as well as tire chips from the former Perona Scrap Yard on Columbia Road in Mullica, located within the Pinelands National Reserve. Some 216,000 tires had been removed from the site in 2006. Work is expected to be completed by the end of the month.
- The Cumberland County Department of Health is using a $150,000 grant to remove about 100,000 tires from the Griner Tire Site on Elmer Road in Fairfield, an abandoned tire dump that was the site of a major tire fire in 2007. Tire chips are being taken to the Pennsauken Landfill for use as cover material.
- Using another $45,000 grant, the Cumberland Health Department is close to completing the removal of 30,000 tires from the Likanchuks Inc. tire dump on Bridgeton Pike, in Fairfield. The tires are being chipped and taken to the Pennsauken Landfill.
- The Gloucester County Improvement Authority is using a $75,000 grant to remove 50,000 tires from the Clayton Auto Recycling property on Delsea Drive in Franklin. The county is expected to attach a lien on the property to recover the money.
- The Gloucester Improvement Authority is using a $75,000 grant to take over tire removal at Walt & Al's Auto Salvage on Tuckahoe Road in Monroe. The owner began voluntarily removing a stockpile of some 50,000 tires from the property earlier this year, but the county moved in because the pace of cleanup was too slow. A $24,000 project removing 3,000 tires from an adjacent property is expected to begin soon.
In addition, the owner of the Foster Farm Tire Pile on Chatsworth Road in Tabernacle, Burlington County, has hired a consultant to perform a preliminary investigation for the removal of some 5,000 tires that remain buried at the property. Several years ago, more than a million tires were removed from the dump in the Pinelands National Reserve.
Most scrap tires are processed for beneficial reuse projects, including tire-derived fuels, road construction, and use in landfills. Scrap tires that still have usable tread are often sent to other countries for reuse.
— TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM