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EPA Orders Virgin Islands to Remove Scrap Tires That Pose Health Threat

Release Date: 10/29/2008
Contact Information: John Senn (212) 637-3667, senn.john@epa.gov

(St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is holding the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands and three other parties responsible for improperly disposing of more than 870,000 tires near the Bovoni Landfill on St. Thomas. EPA determined that the Virgin Islands government, the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority, A-9 Trucking Enterprise, Inc., and a private landowner handled tires in a manner that left them vulnerable to catching fire or providing ideal breeding grounds disease-carrying mosquitoes.

In an order issued under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Virgin Islands government and the other parties must remove all scrap tires near the Bovoni Landfill and either recycle or dispose of them properly. The order also requires the four parties to apply pesticides to kill mosquitoes and larvae in the tires, improve access for fire trucks in disposal areas, limit site access and properly manage scrap tires in the future.

“Scrap tires are more than just unsightly trash,” said EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. “They pose a great risk to the environment and people’s health. Scrap tires catch fire easily and release toxins into the air when burned. They also provide an ideal sanctuary for disease-carrying mosquitoes. That is why EPA is taking steps to ensure that these scrap tires are responsibly handled once and for all.”

Scrap tire fires release known or potential human carcinogens like benzene, arsenic, cadmium and chromium into the environment. A burning tire can release up to two gallons of pyrolytic oil, a free-flowing tar that can seep into soil and water. Scrap tires have also been identified as ideal breeding grounds and habitats for mosquitoes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies the mosquito Aedes aegypti as a significant host of epidemic Dengue, a viral disease endemic in the Caribbean. The proper management of scrap tires is essential to limiting the effects the mosquitoes have on the health of the people of the Virgin Islands.

The Virgin Islands government, Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority, A-9 Trucking Enterprise, Inc., and the private landowner have until July 2010 to complete the removal and disposal of the scrap tires near the Bovoni Landfill and the other requirements in the order.

For a Google Earth aerial map of the Bovoni Landfill area, go to: http://www.epa.gov/region2/kml/bovoni_landfill.kml. (You must have Google Earth installed on your computer to view the map. To download Google Earth, visit http://earth.google.com/download-earth.html).

For more information on EPA’s solid waste programs, visit: http://epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/municipal/index.htm.

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