Local News

July 9, 2014

Cleanup of thousands of tires could start later this summer

It took the owner of a property on Lake Kathy Road just six months to accumulate an estimated 7,000 tires. Whitfield County officials alerted the state to the illegal business almost a year ago, and now state officials say they may be close to cleaning up the property.

“We anticipate releasing that for bids later this month, and we hope to sign a contract for that work in August, “ said Stephanie Bush with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s Solid Waste Division.

Bush said once the contract has been awarded the work could be completed within 30 days.

“But that really depends on the bidder,” she said.

Bush said the agency received funding for the cleanup in the fiscal year 2015 state budget, which started on July 1. Bush said there are currently about 290 scrap tire sites with an estimated 500,000 tires waiting cleanup, with an estimated cost of $1.6 million to clean the sites.

Whitfield County Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Babb said it has been frustrating waiting for the state to clean up the site. The Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority recently sent a check for almost $119,000 to the state’s solid waste trust fund, its annual payment based on the 75 cents per ton charge the state imposes on what comes into the landfill.

“I wish we could have withheld money for the cleanup from that payment and just gone ahead and bid the work ourselves,” Babb said.

Officials discovered the tires last year after crews installing a new electrical substation complained about a large number of mosquitos in the area.

“The gentleman who owned the property had set himself up in a tire transport business,” said Norman Barashick, executive director of the solid waste authority. “That requires a permit by the state of Georgia, and he got that permit. But he wasn’t operating correctly. He thought that by having that permit he was allowed to store and sort through the tires. He wasn’t. He needed an additional permit for that, which he didn’t have.”

Barashick said the man planned to sort through the tires hoping to find ones in good enough condition to sell. But he wasn’t able to do that and the tires kept piling up. Barashick said they were able to convince the man, whom he says has since moved out of Whitfield County, to give up his license and leave the tire transportation business. But that still left thousands of tires on the property, which continue to fill with water when it rains, resulting in the problems with mosquitos.

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