SAN FRANCISCO-Oxford Tire Recycling of Northern California Inc. is less than enthused about receiving California's first permit to operate a major tire pile. The state Integrated Waste Management Board ignored pleas of Oxford officials for a 30-day extension and instead approved its permit application Feb. 27. Oxford had sought the extension to give it time to propose alternative ways to meet the board's requirement that it post a $3.4 million security deposit to provide for the cleanup of the pile should the company go out of business. Oxford officials said they cannot afford such a sum.
The pile, in a canyon about 80 miles from San Francisco, contains 3 million tires, according to the company, or 7.2 million tires, according to the waste board. It dates back possibly 50 years, has been as large as perhaps 40 million tires and is the fuel supply for a 14-megawatt electrical generating plant built next to the pile specifically to use the tires, said Mark Kirkland, Oxford president.
The power plant began operating in 1987, and the company that developed it, Oxford Energy Corp., went bankrupt a couple of years ago. Oxford Tire Recycling emerged as operators of the tire pile and Modesto Energy Limited Partners owns and operates the power plant, which burns 17,000 tires per day.
``We make our money from tire dealers who pay us to haul away their discarded tires,'' said Mr. Kirkland. ``. . . We take in a quarter of all the waste tires generated in California.
``We're working with the board staff now to try to come up with a way we can stay in business,'' he said. ``I don't think they want to put us out of business, but we don't have anything close to the money they want us to pay.''