Houston wants to toughen stance on tire dumping

January 19, 2011 4:51:42 PM PST
The city of Houston is stepping up efforts to clean up illegal dumping grounds around town.

City Council members are concerned with the money being spent to properly dispose of tires that are being dumped illegally. The city estimates it spends more than $1 million a year just to pick up and dispose of illegally dumped tires. This doesn't include the eye sore and health risks these tires pose. But getting dumpers to stop dumping won't be an easy job. In his 27 years of working at the city of Houston, George Hale has seen an increase in the number of tires dumped and the problems they've caused. "Mosquitos, water, rats -- haven't run across a snake yet, but always looking out," said Hale. With more than three million vehicles registered in Houston and Harris County, it's easy to see where all the worn-out tires may come from. And while there are proper disposal sites all around the city, it seems like many business owners prefer just an open ditch. "These businesses or individuals that are dumping these tires should responsibly handle them and ensure they are where they're suppose to be. Unfortunately that's not what we have," said Director of Solid Waste. The biggest problem for the city is that there is no tracking method for these tires and they can be dumped just about anywhere. The goal now is to be able to track all these wayward tires. "Folks deserve to have clean safe communities -- that's our job," said City leaders would like to pass a new ordinance sometime this year that would require businesses to register their tires and possibly pay a fee for proper disposal. Whatever it takes to reduce the amount of illegal dumping. But if such an ordinance is passed, the city is strapped for cash and the money may not be there to enforce any new regulations. "We do not have the personnel to enforce these rules, but I guess if we put the rules in the books and in the ordinance, it would make it easier for us to enforce it," said Council Member Wanda Adams. It's estimated that Houstonians change anywhere from 600,000 to 800,000 tires every year and obviously a lot of them are not disposed of properly. The city says it wants to establish a new ordinance within the next six to 10 months.