06-02-2002, 06:19 PM #1
Burned Rubber and Other Not-So-Natural Hazards
Any thoughts on this? I hope they have a good HAZMAT team
Burned Rubber and Other Not-So-Natural Hazards
By ROSS E. MILLOY
ATLANTA, Tex., June 1 — "You're never going to see a bigger pile of rubber than this," said Jay Harris, a security guard at the closed Gibson Recycling plant in the dense pine forests just south of this East Texas town.
With 30 million to 40 million shredded tires and 3 million whole ones, the 150-acre Gibson site is the largest tire graveyard in Texas, and possibly the nation. Tractor tires, motorcycle tires, 18-wheeler tires, bicycle tires, automobile tires and inner tubes — chipped, shredded or whole — are piled in about a hundred blocklong mounds up to 25 feet high.
"It's all just stacked up out here, waiting until somebody figures out what to do with it," Mr. Harris said. "That could take a long, long time."
For nearly a decade, Gibson Recycling operated as a dumping ground for old tires. Bud Gibson, an engineer, began buying used tires and recycling them into other products in 1991, encouraged by a state program that offered financial incentives to clean up tire dumps, which, in addition to being fire hazards, breed mosquitoes and other pests.
But the program, financed by a $2 fee on new tires, did not outline disposal methods for the tires, and only a limited commercial market for chipped or shredded tires developed. The state abandoned the effort in 1997, but by then Mr. Gibson had assembled scrapped tires from 220 other dump sites in Texas and surrounding states, state officials said.
Gibson Recycling continued operation for three years after the program, but in May 2000 the state's Natural Resource Conservation Commission closed the plant, citing repeated safety violations, and the company went out of business.
The state took over the plant and hired a security firm, Horne Enterprises, to guard it around the clock. From "Fort Horne" — a portable building perched on a beachhead of chipped rubber — Mr. Harris and other guards scan the eerie black mounds with binoculars.
"The biggest danger is fire," Mr. Harris said. "That's what we're always watching for." Lightning strikes, oxidation of wires in the shredded rubber, and even summer heat can start fires, he said.
Fire lanes have been cut through the hills of rubber chips, fire extinguishers rest by each pile, water trucks and dump trucks are parked at the edge of the site.
"Tire fires can be almost impossible to put out," said Dixon McMahen, an environmental clean-up consultant in Austin. "They generate intense heat with dangerous chemicals in the smoke, and you can dump huge amounts of water on them without making any headway."
A 1983 fire in Winchester, Va., burned for nearly nine months. Another in Garfield County, Wash., lasted more than five months in 1996, the United States Fire Administration said. A fire that started in 1998 near Tracy, Calif., burned for two years.
Even the runoff water from fighting such fires can be filled with hazardous chemicals, said Bob McCarthy, a researcher at the agency. "For every million tires consumed by fire, 55,000 gallons of runoff containing hazardous materials is created, and tire fires can produce 32 different toxic gases," he said.
State officials say that, since they took over the Gibson site, at least nine small fires have been stopped there. The Legislature appropriated $5 million last year to deal with the issue, and by March the natural resource commission was within 30 days of burying the tires.
That's when many of Atlanta's 5,700 residents balked. "It's unthinkable to put that kind of chemical and fire hazard underground right here in our own backyard," said Bob Embry, director of the town's chamber of commerce. Residents fear the chips might ignite or migrate underground, he said, contaminating the water table or nearby streams.
Faced with opposition, the state is considering nearly 20 business proposals, from burial to building a "pyrolysis" plant that would melt the tires and reclaim oil, steel and other materials. Jeff Saitas, the commission's executive director, said he wanted to give the community time to come up with alternatives.
"But you can't let this thing drag on forever," Mr. Saitas said. "The risk of fire is too great."
In the meantime, Mr. Harris patrols the site's Stygian landscape. "A lot of people think this place is a terrible wasteland, but after you've been here a while it just seems kind of peaceful," he said. "Besides, it's a pretty good job."
06-02-2002, 07:54 PM #2
- Join Date
- Mar 2002
- Loco madidus effercio in rutilus effercio.
I know that (and expect) FF26 will correct me on this one, and maybe a few others too. I seem to remember an incident that happened up Island about 2 or 3 years ago involving burning of tires. The fire was in a scrap yard, and I seem to remember the story saying that the tires were burning for several days before they could be fully extinguished.
I do know for a fact that it takes a lot to get them going, but once started, well boys and girls, its gonna be a long night.
Hope these guys in Texas will be able to do something with all that rubber before a major fire incident happens, that will go ugly real fast. Good luck to them.If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)
"I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD
"Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)
Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!
impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto
IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.
06-02-2002, 10:11 PM #3
- Join Date
- Oct 1999
- Why? It's not like you're going to visit me! But I'm near Waco, Texas
Ripley's Believe it or not..
good news, couple of years ago the Waco School District finished their new football stadium. It is used by two high schools during the regular season and host several playoff games during the playoffs. It has a artifical turf that never needs mowing and when it rains it can hold up to 6 inches of water before it forms a puddle. the new turf is not the same material used in other artifical turf stadiums, it's used from recycled tires. Believe or not....NREMT-P\ Reserve Volunteer Firefighter\Reserve Police Officer
Experts built the Titanic, amateurs built the Ark.
06-02-2002, 10:42 PM #4
I thought I read something a month or so ago where the surface of the Detroit Lions new Ford Field was made from the tires that Firestone recalled.
06-02-2002, 11:12 PM #5
The floor mats in the gym I work out at are made of recycled tires too, but judging from that pic I posted earlier (that is the actual site) How many facilities could they floor?
I don't know what they do to treat the tires before they make artificial turf or flooring out of them, is putting the tires into stadiums and the like, creating the possibility of a future HAZMAT scene?
When they hold events in stadiums like those 'monster truck' shows, do they remove the artificial turf first, or just cover it? I'm thinking about the possibility of vehicle fluids leaking through the dirt and getting on to the tire material, possibly start it smoldering underneath the dirt. Like I said before I don't know what they do to treat the tire material in the recycling process, or if they remove the recycled tire flooring before having a show like that.
06-03-2002, 12:11 AM #6
I'll bet the neighbors love what it does for their property values. But then, maybe they just don't care.Michael "Mick" Mayers
Acting Director, Urban Search and Rescue
South Carolina Emergency Response Task Force
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