Published on March 21, 2014

Texas sues tire recycler (Update)

By Miles Moore, Senior Washington Reporter

HARLINGEN, Texas (March 21, 2014) — A state judge in Harlingen has granted the State of Texas’ request for a preliminary injunction against a Texas tire recycler accused of storing several hundred thousand pounds too much of scrap tires and related materials on its property.

Judge Gary Harger of the District Court of Travis County, Texas, 53rd Judicial District, on March 18 ordered Harlingen-based Tire Recycling & Processing L.L.C. (TRP) to reduce within 30 days the amount of whole tires, crumb rubber, fiber fluff and scrap metal to the 217,575 pounds allowed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), and also to stop storing tires outdoors.

The state attorney general’s office filed the complaint against TRP Feb. 21 on behalf of the TCEQ, which found several violations of Texas scrap tire codes during successive inspections.

TRP is registered with the TCEQ under the name “Waster Tire Thermal Conversion Plant,” according to the complaint. The facility accepts whole scrap tires for chipping, shredding and processing, and sells pelletized rubber and scrap metal from the tires, it said.

On Feb. 4, Mark McPherson, a Dallas attorney who represents TRP, informed the TCEQ by letter that the company planned to start pyrolysis operations.

TRP had included pyrolysis in its original 2011 application to the agency, but the TCEQ never authorized pyrolysis to be performed at the site, according to the complaint.

“The (pyrolysis) process turns a non-hazardous material, scrap tire, into a hazardous substance, a low-grade oil that may be used as fuel after additional refining,” the complaint said. “Tire pyrolysis facilities also have an inherent risk of fire and explosion if not properly designed, tested, operated and maintained.”

In an inspection on Feb. 6, TCEQ inspectors found 785,000 pounds of scrap tire materials onsite at TRP — or 568,000 pounds more than TRP was authorized to store, the complaint said. They also found the company was not maintaining a 10-foot aisle space between stored tires, as state law requires.

The state seeks a temporary injunction against TRP from engaging in pyrolysis, and it also seeks the removal of excess tires and the institution of required storage practices at the site.

Judge Harger set a trial date of Oct. 13. Mr. McPherson could not be reached for comment.

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To reach this reporter: mmoore@crain.com.

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