Illegal tire dumps cause a variety of problems. Aside from being unsightly, the void spaces inside old tires catch rain water and provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes which are carriers of infectious diseases such as West Nile Virus and Encephalitis. Rats and other vermin nest in them as well and can spread a variety of diseases.
Fire is another hazard. If a brush fire gets started and engulfs an illegal tire dump the resulting fire, and its smoke, causes health hazards to all nearby homes and businesses and the fire is many times more difficult to extinguish.
Therefore, most communities schedule regular tire dump clean-up efforts. But they must be careful, and prepared, for the problems that will come along with this effort.
When one envisions a tire dump, they may think of tires tossed in a field. That is rarely the case. Level, accessible fields are generally in use by someone, and that someone will tend to remove the illegally tossed tires because they are a hazard. Illegal tire dumps tend to be in less accessible areas, like along a lake shore, or tossed down a mountain slope or into an unused wooded area. Just getting to these sites can be a major challenge: removing heavy tires, more so.
In our county, many are located down steep slopes from a roadway. This necessitates lowering someone on a cable with a winch to the site, digging the tires out, then hauling them up to the road on another line. These sites are usually brushy and overgrown, with poor footing, making the journey treacherous. The brush and weeds also trap the tires in their tangle. Lakeside dumps mean wading out into the water and pulling the semi-submerged tires from the muck.
Then there is the high potential of venomous snakes, rats, possum and other potentially injurious wildlife that will not appreciate the destruction of their warrens.
All these things must be considered when planning a tire clean-up effort. Early spring and late fall are popular times because any snakes that may be found will be sluggish and easier to avoid.
When someone tosses their discarded tires over a roadside or into a lake, they may be thinking they’re just avoiding having to pay a disposal fee. But they are in fact causing all these troubles. They endanger the crews that have to go out to clean up after them and they create risks to the entire community. In many cases, those who go out to clean up the mess are volunteers, but the equipment and supplies needed for these efforts, and the disposal fees, cost the taxpayers money.
Dumping tires anywhere but in an approved disposal facility is illegal and can result in substantial fines. But it is also a very un-neighborly thing to do. Please, for everyone’s sake, properly dispose of your old tires.