Saturday, May 15, 2004

Tire pile going down slowly

By Jon Gambrell
Enquirer contributor

ST. CLAIR TWP. - Looking out from his garage, Ralph Hall sees the wall of tires, stacked four rows high.

"The mosquitoes eat you up around here," the 59-year-old said. "I don't invite anyone over for a cookout at night. You can't come out anymore."

For the last four years, Hall's South Street neighbor, D&R Recyclers, collected more than 2.5 million tireson a 50-acre lot in this Butler County community.

According to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, efforts to clean up the site are moving along. Officials believe half a million tires have been removed.

With tires providing potential mosquito breeding grounds and summer near, neighbors are getting upset. Mosquitoes at the site last summer tested positive for the West Nile virus.

More tires continue to enter the plant, but EPA spokeswoman Dina Pierce said those tires are under the control of Rumpke, which made a transporting deal with D&R. The tires Rumpke shreds are used at its Colerain Township facility to cushion pipes in the landfill.

However, Pierce said a routine inspection recently found extra semi-truck trailers at a private lot next to the facility after residents complained of tires being put in them.

D&R owner Darrel Rutherford could not be reached for comment.

Last June, Ohio EPA officials fined D&R $25,120, setting a list of requirements for the recycling business, including taking down a baled tire fence.

But from Hall's driveway, the majority of the fencing is still up, the scent of rubber wafting across his home.

Three test "pools" of mosquitoes collected at the D&R site last year tested positive for West Nile virus, according to Butler County Health Department officials.

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