Taxpayers foot the bill to dispose of thousands of illegally dumped tires

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Thousands of tires dumped illegally in Harrison County are being cleaned up and taxpayers are having to foot the bill. County officials say a recent tip led to a massive tire dump on public land in the Woolmarket area. One of the county's safety and environmental officer talked about who he believes is responsible.

One. Two. Three. Four. It's not difficult to lose count when you counting to 3,000. That's how many used tires Harrison County crews will have to jam pack into five rented tractor trailers.

"We are charged per trailer so the idea is to load as many into these trailers as we can," said Safety and Environmental Officer Mike Andrews. The best and most efficient way of doing that is to hand load them."

Andrews took WLOX crews to a location that was not the original dump site. County officials say the tires were moved to the second location as a safety precaution.

"If they would have caught on fire it would have been a major environmental issue," said Andrews. "It's a major environmental issue now anyway because of the mosquitoes and everything that they breed so we quickly got onto it."

Harrison County officials say they are having to pull skilled laborers like electricians and plumbers off their regular duties to go load tires. With the cost of equipment, labor, transportation and a contract with a Jackson recycling company, Harrison county officials say the price tag could run between $12,000 and $20,000.

"A lot of expense. A lot of man power out here," said Andrews. "There's no reason for this. The biggest thing is these tires were probably dumped by somebody paid to properly dispose of them and they did not."

"They had to be either a tire store or a company hired to dispose of these tires because they piled up down this road. We brought them so could hand load them in these recycling trailers so they could be disposed of properly."

WLOX checked with several area companies that sell tires who told us customers must pay a disposal fee of either $1 or $2 dollars per tire. If you take the lowest estimate, $12,000 for Harrison County to collect, transport and dispose of the 3,000 illegally dumped tires it will have cost taxpayers $4 per tire.

County officials believe a company was responsible for this massive illegal tire dump but they want to remind individuals that they have options besides illegal dumping. Harrison County residents can take their used tires to the hazardous waste collection site on Cowan Road.

Jolie Machado is the director of the Harrison County Beautification Commission. "It's an environmental hazard when people just throw trash on the side of the road and this type of tire disposal is trash. Instead of just throwing it in your yard or throwing it in your neighbor's yard or a county road, you need to bring them to the household hazardous waste site on Cowan Lorraine road and we will take them for free from residents."

Officials say Harrison County residents can drop off up to 25 tires a year free of charge. For more information on tire recycling or to report an illegal dump site call Harrison county Beautification Commission at 214-1405.