Nearly seven years since its last Heartlands Regional Tire Management Conference, the Rubber Manufacturers Association gathered in Omaha June 2-4 with representatives from 11 central states to discuss the latest scrap tire concerns.
State regulators and environmental officials from Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, Arkansas, Minnesota and Wyoming attended to examine ways to develop markets for scrap tires. Michael Blumenthal, the RMA's senior technical director, said one of the more ``lively'' discussions during the forum revolved around the West Nile Virus, a mosquito-borne disease that continues to make its way westward.
State officials who attended the conference discussed how tire dumps contribute to the West Nile problem, Mr. Blumenthal said.
``From year to year, the breed of mosquito that's the biggest carrier of this disease seems to change, so it's not just one type of mosquito all the time,'' he said. ``So it's not just one habitat all the time. West Nile has been marching west and it's a health concern.''
An official from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta presented to conference participants the results of a study in Colorado, which showed that tire-derived fuel (TDF) did not generate the dangerous dioxins opponents allege, Mr. Blumenthal said, pointing out that the RMA did not pay the CDC to conduct the TDF study.
Mr. Blumenthal noted that since the last RMA conference in the region, those states have cleaned up millions of stockpiled tires and have begun new markets for tires that hadn't existed before. He said the RMA accomplished its objective for this year's meeting.
``We got the state people talking to each other...I think they will continue to do that,'' he said. ``They're already talking about meeting next year.''
The Heartlands regional conference was one of a series of educational forums the RMA is involved in this year. The association also was participating in the New York state/Northeast Regional Scrap Tire Conference in conjunction with the Environmental Business Association of New York and the Environmental Advocates, June 15-16 in Albany, N.Y.