Local officials urging EPA to move forward on tire dump case

Craig Kauffman, the health district’s environmental health director, first cited the owner of the site, Rodney Burnside, last September. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations executed a search warrant on the property, Freedom Recovery and Recycling, 4971 County Road 130, in November.

EPA Spokeswoman Dina Pierce declined to comment, citing it is an ongoing investigation. Burnside was not at the dump site and did not return phone calls to the Springfield News-Sun.

“We would have hoped for a little quicker action,” said Kauffman of the EPA and BCI. “Eventually, if the state doesn’t act we will have to do something locally.”

The most immediate danger the tires present is being a breeding ground for mosquitoes this spring, said Kauffman. The type of mosquitoes that carry diseases are most attracted to breeding in tires, he added.

Each tire can contain between 10 to 30 mosquito larvae and with more than one million tires it could present a nuisance to the community, Kauffman said.

This week Logan County Prosecutor William Goslee and Logan County Sheriff Andrew Smith met with the health district to discuss local actions that could be taken to move the investigation along.

“The focus was on where the investigation is at this point and reaching out to the EPA and Attorney General’s office to see if locals could assist in finishing up the investigation,” Smith said.

Smith said the EPA told him that they were still trying to coordinate an interview with the land owner at the site.

The other major public safety concern is that if the tires were to catch on fire.

Not only can it be a danger to firefighters and neighbors, tire fires can contaminate the air, soil and ground, Kauffman said. If the tires were to catch fire, they can create a toxic sludge that can ruin the soil and get into the ground water.

Local officials decided at this time they would not pursue any local action in fear of double jeopardy against the property.

“I don’t want to be out here for a (bon)fire and be getting eat up,” Doug Johns of Huntsville said.

Johns lives just a few hundred yards from the dump and said he sees the site continuing to get more tires.

“I see at least two or three trucks a week still come here,” he said.

If the state does not finish its investigation and take actions to remove the tires from the site, local action could still take place at some point, Kauffman said.

The health department could request a court order to remove the tires from the area or pursue felony criminal charges against Burnside for operating a tire facility without a license, he added.

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