The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is expected to comeback later this year and the start of the next fiscal year to clean up the rest.
In a meeting in Austin earlier this month, officials with the TCEQ Municipal Solid Waste Management and Resource Recovery Advisory Council discussed the tires and decided that this cleanup could be the “poster child” for their superfund cleanup program.
Earl Lott, director of waste permits, told the council that the superfund is money, newly budgeted this year, for the cleanup of sites like the one on Second Road in Bee County.
“We never had funding to implement that program,” he said. “This year, we were able to scrape-up about $90,000.”
The condition of the cleanup site was that there could not be pending litigation and no other viable means for cleanup.
“We don’t want to choose a site that is currently going through enforcement with our agency,” he said. “We also want to make sure there is no responsible party available to clean it up.”
It also, he said, “must have a significant impact on human health and the environment,” he said.
Neighbors describe the area as a haven not only for mosquitoes but also rats and other varmints.
Lott said that numerous local media reports put news of the illegal dumping in the public eye.
Prior news reports put estimates of the number of tires at 20,000 — way above the amount estimated by Lott.
About a year ago, the owner of the property pleaded with county commissioners for help cleaning up the tires.
She said that it wasn’t her but a relative who dumped the tires on the property against her wishes.
Commissioners were limited on what cleanup they could do because this was private property.
SWS Environmental services, which has offices in San Antonio, will handle the cleanup of the tires at the request of TCEQ.
Tires will be taken to Cemex Cement Plant in New Braunfels where they will be used for fuel.
Lott said, “Cemex will take the tires for virtually nothing.”
In the end, this cleanup will be an example of what can be accomplished, he said.
“This is really a good success story,” he said. “We are hoping to copy that model in the future.”
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 343-5221, or at editor@mySouTex.com.