Susan Buckley, RN, Director, Public Health
Ira Singh, MPH, Deputy Director
Donald I. Baird, MD, Health Officer

Division of Environmental Health


Date Released: 5/18/2007
Subject: Waste Tire Amnesty Day
Contact: Harriet Hill, REHS, Environmental Health Division
Phone: (707) 445-6215

News Release

Save Energy and Help Make New Products - Recycle Your Old Tires!

Old tires that are now collecting water and mosquitoes in Humboldt County backyards could be helping to power a Redding cement plant. On Saturday, June 2, Humboldt County residents will have the opportunity to drop off their waste tires for free in Garberville. Depending on their size and condition, the tires will either be hauled to the Redding plant and used to provide some of the energy and materials for cement, or transported further south to be processed into mats for playgrounds or tracks.
Each year, Californians generate over 40 million waste tires, or around 1 per person. Around 75% of California’s waste tires are recycled or put to some beneficial use. Tires are used to manufacture rubber asphalt, playground equipment, crash barriers, erosion control, floor and track surfacing, oil spill recovery materials, roofing, and other products.
Waste tires are also an excellent source of energy when burned at high temperatures under controlled conditions. They produce roughly the same BTU’s per pound as superior quality coal. At the Lehigh Southwest Cement Company in Redding, tires offset about 20 percent of the plant’s demand for coal, according to Plant Manager James Ellison. Over 1.3 million waste tires/year are fed into the plant’s kiln to fire it to 2,600 degrees F. At that temperature, chemical reactions convert limestone and shale into “clinker” or unfinished cement. The high temperatures and long burning time in the kilns create a unique tire disposal technique allowing the steel belts to melt right into the cement. This provides some of the iron ore needed for cement. According to Ross Bell, Shasta County Air Quality District Manager, the use of tires for fuel does not increase the overall health risk the facility poses to the public. Indeed, the plant’s emissions of oxides of nitrogen, a precursor to ozone, are lower there than at a typical coal-burning cement plant. The majority of Humboldt County’s waste tires are hauled to the Lehigh Southwest Cement Company for recycling, and most of the tires dropped off at the free collection event on June 2 will be taken there as well.
Unlike the controlled conditions inside the cement kiln, tires dumped outside are a serious fire hazard, especially if they are close to vegetation or buildings. Tire fires burn very hot and are extremely difficult to extinguish – a large tire fire in Tracy, California took more than 2 years to put out. In the severe heat, tires can melt into an oily substance. When the fire is doused with water this oily substance forms a harmful run-off that can contaminate nearby surface water. Even small dumps may pose a health risk if they catch fire, particularly to children, the elderly, and individuals with chronic respiratory conditions.
Another reason to get rid of backyard tires is to reduce mosquitoes. Old tires are one of the best places for them to breed, especially the mosquito that carries West Nile Virus. Thousands of mosquitoes can be generated from just one tire. Tires will hold water long into the summer after natural habitats like wetlands have dried up. This means that later on in the summer mosquitoes will be attracted to tire piles when they are looking for habitat to lay their eggs. Even a small amount of water (1/4 cup or less) is enough for them to lay their eggs. Adult mosquitoes emerge from the water in as little as 7 days after hatching.
Free Tire Collection Event Details: The Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, Environmental Health Division and the Humboldt Waste Management Authority will hold a free waste tire disposal day on Saturday, June 2, from 9 am to 2 pm at the CalTrans Yard on 1500 Redwood Drive, Garberville. The yard is next to the Garberville Renner Station. This is a one day opportunity for residents to bring up to 9 car/light truck tires for free disposal. Tires must be without rims, and less than 32 inches in diameter. Tires from businesses will not be accepted. The event is sponsored in part by a grant from the California Integrated Waste Management Board. If you can’t drop off your tires on June 2, the Hawthorne Street Transfer Station and most local tire dealers will take waste tires for a fee.

For further information, contact the Environmental Health Division at 707-445-6215 or 1-800-963-9241.


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