State hopes to address tire piles with new fee

The Associated Press
Saturday September 30, 2000

SACRAMENTO – The disposal fee for old tires is going up next year to pay for an expanded regulation and cleanup program aimed at illegal tire piles. 

Tire pile fires in Westley in Stanislaus County and near Tracy burned a total of 12 million tires in the past few years, causing air and water pollution in the region to increase. 

A bill signed by Gov. Gray Davis will increase the waste tire disposal fee from 25 cents to $1 per tire through Dec. 31, 2006. The fee then drops to 75 cents a tire. The increase takes effect Jan. 1. 

The measure is sponsored by Sen. Martha Escutia, D-Comerce. 

In his bill-signing announcement Friday, Davis said California generates more than 31 million used tires every year, far more than any other state in the country produces. 

The money will be used for an expanded regulation program that includes a reporting system to trace tires from their sale to disposal to make sure they are not illegally dumped. 

Some of the money will also be used to clean up the Westley and Tracy sites and other illegal tire piles around the state. And the state’s effort to find markets for recycled tires will be expanded from its current base. 

The Westley fire was ignited by lightning in September 1999 and burned for 34 days.  

The state attorney general and Stanislaus County have sued the owners of the site, saying they failed to reduce its size over time and maintain proper fire prevention measures. 

The tire dump near Tracy caught fire in August 1998 and smoldered for months. State officials said it had been operating without a state license for several years before the fire.