If environmental and health concerns weren't enough of an incentive for residents to dispose of scrap tires, officials in Fort Wayne hope a $50 fine might do the trick.
The Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health recently started fining residents who have scrap tires in their yards that can spawn mosquitoes and the potentially deadly West Nile Virus. By March, the county had ticketed 21 households for scrap tires. In all, some 50 letters have been sent out as warnings.
Mindy Waldron, public information officer for the department, said the program is built out of a city ordinance concerning rodent control. When the department's two inspectors are in the field, they are authorized to also ticket for scrap tires. The inspectors are not responding to calls specifically about tires, Ms. Waldron said.
She said the program is designed for the health concerns- not aesthetic problems-of scrap tires. The Fort Wayne area recorded 71 human cases of West Nile last summer, including three deaths, Ms. Waldron said.
``Because we had such a problem this summer with West Nile in the area, we knew primary prevention was it,'' she said.
The fine-based program could be a first, said Michael Blumenthal, senior technical director of the Rubber Manufacturers Association. It also may not be addressing the core problem, he said.
``The real issue is not just to go clean up tires after they've been dumped, the issue is to get the tire out of the waste stream,'' he said.
Unlike Indiana's neighbors, Mr. Blumenthal said the state doesn't have a large market for scrap tires. Efforts to expand tire recycling, tire shredders or tire-derived manufacturing facilities have languished. In the end, he said, a lack of markets for scrap tires could make cleaning them up an unending problem.
Dave Kosiarek, owner of Tom Steele Tire Service in Fort Wayne, said there are not many recyclers in his area, but the scrap tires find their way to other regions or states. ``It works,'' he said. ``They're being properly disposed of.''
But that wasn't the case about five years ago, he said, when many tire dealers found themselves working with unreputable haulers.
``The community has come down hard on people who have not done it the right way,'' he said.
In fact, Mr. Blumenthal said those problems can happen regardless if an area has strong scrap-tire markets. But for cleanup purposes, he said amnesty days may be more successful than fines. In those programs, residents can bring tires to a location for free disposal.
Fort Wayne has had an amnesty program for about 10 years, plus a neighborhood tire program since 1994. In the neighborhood program, registered neighborhoods-an average of 33 a year-sign up to have their tires transported to a recycler. Bob Woenker, a planner for the city who runs the program, said the effort, which collected 55,000 tires since its inception, offers a better incentive for residents to dispose of tires.
``The obvious solution is to throw them on the back of a truck and dump them somewhere else when no one's watching,'' he said of one big drawback to fine-based programs.