$500K cleanup begins at illegal tire yard in Logan County

The Ohio EPA has stepped in to remove more than 100,000 tires from a Logan County property after neighbors have complained for years, a cleanup that will cost about $500,000.

The Logan County Health District began work to remove the tires from the illegal dump in the 4000 block of County Road 130 in Huntsville back in 2013, said Craig Kauffman, the district’s environmental health director.

“The No. 1 concern is really fire,” Kauffman said. “It’s a real environmental health disaster as far as contaminating the soil and ground water.”

But the renter of the property didn’t comply with the district’s requests, he said, so he contacted the Ohio EPA.

The organization gave the property renter 120 days to remove the tires, a spokeswoman for the Ohio EPA said. When he didn’t address the problem, the property’s owner was given the same notice, she said, and also didn’t respond.

An administrative warrant was obtained and a contractor was hired to remove and recycle the tires, according to the Ohio EPA.

Removal began last week and is expected to last a month.

Liberty Tire from Grove City is handling the cleanup. It will be paid for out of the state’s scrap tire abatement program, a fee charged to customers when they purchase new tires.

Neighbors said the tire yard has increased mosquito populations in the area and they were glad to hear the tires would be gone soon.

“I am very happy to see them go,” George Hunter said. “We have all this rain and so after the rain it’s going to get hot. And that’s when they start coming out.”

Mosquitoes like to breed in tires, Kauffman said.

“There are actually types of mosquitoes that prefer containers like tires,” he said. “And those mosquitoes are more apt to carry disease.”

The cleanup isn’t just a response to fears about Zika virus, Kauffman said, noting the district began pursuing the cleanup in Huntsville long before the virus that’s been linked to birth defects was a concern.

“Any tire accumulation like that — with Zika or without Zika — is a real potential problem,” he said, noting many other mosquito-borne illnesses like West Nile.

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