MONTGOMERY, Ala.—A new scrap tire law in Alabama is requiring tire dealers and retreaders to license each of their locations with the state or face hefty fines. The law, which became effective Oct. 1, marks Alabama's first attempts at regulating scrap tire flow throughout the state and at reducing the state's scrap tire piles. It requires businesses that receive, transport or collect scrap tires to be licensed with the county they are based in, according to Kim Rice, senior environmentalist with the state Department of Health's solid waste branch.
A license costs $37.50, but a dealer or retreader with more than one shop must buy a license for each location, Ms. Rice said. Similarly, a scrap hauler with more than one truck must pay for a license and an additional $15 per truck for decals, which also are required by the statute.
For fleets, licenses cost $375 to operate throughout the state, Ms. Rice said.
Any business that fails to purchase a license by Nov. 1 must pay a $500 penalty for each location, she said. In other words, a dealership that failed to buy licenses for each of its 10 outlets would have to pay their county $5,000 in penalties.
Fines for illegally dumping scrap tires start at $300 plus $5 per tire, according to Ms. Rice. A county judge also can fine a violator additional amounts.
Revenues collected from the licensing fees and penalties will be split between the counties and the state Department of Health, Ms. Rice said.
The new law authorizes the health department to administer a scrap tire management fund, with guidelines on how to spend that money to be determined by a newly created scrap tire commission.
The commission will survey how many tire dumps are in Alabama and submit a report to the state legislature in 2001 on how to clean up those dumps, according to Ms. Rice. The state, which generates approximately 4 million scrap tires annually, currently has no estimates on how many of its tires are stockpiled.
Alabama has three tire-derived fuel plants and two cement kilns.
The law is unique among other state scrap tire management laws in that Alabama's county commissions will administer and enforce it instead of a state agency.
The measure is considered a ``first step'' for the state towards managing its scrap tire program, said John Serumgard, executive vice president of the Scrap Tire Management Council.
``It's a start for regulation in Alabama,'' Mr. Serumgard said. ``It's a slightly different proposition than we've seen in other states.''
However, many Alabama tire dealers are critical of the new scrap tire law for that very reason, according to Jeri McCafferty, executive director of the Alabama Tire Dealers Association.
Ms. McCafferty said the association polled its members prior to the state's passage of the scrap tire law and found that two-thirds of its dealers opposed it.
The ATDA never thought the original bill would go beyond committee, let alone become law because it was poorly written, according to Ms. McCafferty.
``It's to be enforced by each county, and each county is more or less writing their own rules,'' Ms. McCafferty said. ``There's no definite plan to go by. It's more or less left up to the counties to enforce it as they see fit.''
The ATDA also takes issue with the requirement that all scrap tire transporters and collection facilities need to be bonded, she said.
The law allows each county to set a bond rate that ranges from $1,000 up to $300,000, Ms. Rice said, but the average county bond rate is $10,000.
However, those varying bond rates raise questions as to how each county will enforce it, because not every county at this time has appointed an enforcement officer, Ms. McCafferty said. She said she called county commissioners across the state to see what the bond rates would be and found 18 commissioners unaware that the law is now effective.
The bond rates also could do the very opposite of what the original law intended and exacerbate illegal dumping if some Alabama counties charge exorbitant rates, according to Mr. Serumgard.
``It remains to be seen what the law will do,'' he said.