KANSAS CITY, Mo.—The Missouri attorney general has filed a lawsuit against a Kansas City tire recycler for failing to clean up sites within the city despite an agreement with state officials to do so. Attorney General Jay Nixon filed the lawsuit March 23 against Tom and Cathie Jenkins, owners of Central American Tire Salvage Co. Inc. The lawsuit comes four days after the Jenkins failed to meet a court-ordered deadline to remove tires from one of three sites they operate in Kansas City.
Citing environmental and public safety concerns, the lawsuit calls on the Jenkins to immediately remove tires or allow officials access to the property to conduct the cleanup at the company's expense. The lawsuit seeks civil penalties of up to $1,000 per day per violation of the state's solid waste management law.
"The location of these tires poses a great potential threat, should they catch fire," Mr. Nixon said. "They are stored too close to buildings and nearby property, and the lack of fire lanes would make fighting a fire here extremely difficult."
The Jenkins could not be reached for comment but have told state officials that they are trying to move tires off the properties as fast as they can. Sluggish markets for recycled material are hampering their effort.
"They say they're trying," said Dan Fester, inspector with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
In February, state environmental officials gave CATSCO until March 19 to remove a pile of more than 50,000 tires from one of two lots within the city limits. Mr. Jenkins has until May 19 to rid a second site of stockpiled tires.
City and state officials are both trying to have the tires removed, citing environmental and health reasons. With summer right around the corner, they want those tires out, particularly now that the March 19 deadline has expired.
Local and state officials who inspected the sites said little progress had been made, which prompted the lawsuit.
"The defendants have not taken the earlier agreement seriously and even brought in additional tires," Mr. Nixon said. "Perhaps a court order with penalties will get their attention."
Mr. Jenkins was awarded a permit to temporarily store tires on the site nearly a year ago. The permit, awarded in May, prohibits tire piles to spread more than 5,000 square feet or climb more than 10-feet high. The piles also must lie within 10 feet of a property line or building.
Mr. Jenkins is accused of violating all those regulations. No timetable has been set for potential clean up.