CHARLESTON, W. Va.—West Virginia lawmakers are considering a $5 automobile title tax to raise money for cleaning up 15 million to 20 million scrap tires lying in illegal dumps. The cost to load the tires on trucks and haul them away is estimated at $1.25 to $1.50 per tire. Proposed by Gov. Cecil H. Underwood, the cleanup plan has been in the legislature for a year.
"The property owners of the dump sites are either gone or they can't be found, and our legislators have been trying to come up with a way to remove them, then get rid of them," said Jim Teets, Mr. Underwood's chief of staff.
A $5 tax would be added to the transaction fee every time someone in the state titles a car.
West Virginia issues 700,000 titles annually, Mr. Teets said, which translates to $3.5 million per year. Upon adoption of the bill, the West Virginia Department of Highways would be charged with the responsibility to move and dispose of the tires in an environmentally sound manner.
West Virginia's problem with large tire piles is typical of that found throughout the country. The state paid $18 million to remove 20 million tires in the past 10 years, said Richard Cooke, assistant chief of Solid Waste Management.
The governor's office knows of at least three possibilities for dealing with the tires: A power-generating plant has offered to burn them; an asphalt and concrete-manufacturing plant has said it can fire its heavy furnaces with the tires; or the tires could be recycled into chips.
The state estimates the $5 tax will allow it to clean up all the illegal tire piles within four to five years.