SYCAMORE, Ohio — A Wyandot County, Ohio, judge has closed the state's largest tire dump, in Sycamore, because the 40- to 50- foot piles of rubber there could pose a health threat. In a lawsuit filed by the Ohio Attorney General's office, Judge John G. Hunter ruled Kirby's Tire Recycling Inc. violated a 1997 court order during the past year.
The 1997 ruling required Kirby's to remove all new tires brought to the site within 72 hours and to dispose of at least 5,000 old tires each business day.
Kirby's also piled additional scrap tires in the 50-foot fire lanes it was ordered to keep free of flammable materials and other obstructions, the ruling said.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Wyandot County Health Department have pushed the company to remove tires at the site since 1992, said Beth Brown, Ohio EPA site inspector.
''They've had years of noncompliance,'' she said.
Kirby's site holds between 15 million and 20 million tires.
Judge Hunter ordered Kirby's to stop accepting incoming scrap tires until it complies with the original 1997 court order.
The company also must construct a gate at the facility's entrance, preventing access to the site. Judge Hunter ordered Kirby's to hire a security guard to keep watch over the locked gate at all times, the ruling said.
Kirby's found it hard to comply with the original order, because the firm hasn't found many buyers for its stockpile of scrap rubber, said Christopher Schraff, the company's attorney with the Columbus, Ohio, law firm of Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur.
Most of the scrap tires delivered to the firm came from customers in Ohio, he said.
Kirby's will have to buy nearly $400,000 worth of new shredding and grinding equipment to comply with the 1997 court order, which it can't afford, Mr. Schraff said.
Under a contract with the Ohio EPA, the company had supplied crumb rubber to a nearby landfill for use as a drainage layer. But the Ohio EPA recently replaced Kirby's services with that of a cheaper contractor, Mr. Schraff said.
The court has requested the firm present a plan to reopen its tire recycling plant, he said.
''They're looking for partnership opportunities to help them out and provide needed capital,'' Mr. Schraff said. ''They're also looking for other markets for their material.''
Kirby's scrap tire pile would not be as large as it is if the company received more financial assistance from the Ohio EPA, Mr. Schraff said.