Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt has signed a recently passed bill restoring the 50-cent fee charged on each new tire sold in the state and imposing a 50-cent fee on new car batteries.
The fee, which lapsed in January 2004, goes to fund scrap tire cleanups in Missouri. Collection will begin Oct. 1.
The fee should bring about $2.1 million to Missouri's scrap tire fund each year, according to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MoDNR). The fee will expire in January 2010.
The bill the legislature passed in mid-May gives preference to Missouri-based contractors in tire site cleanups and allows the MoDNR to use the scrap tire fund to respond to tire-related environmental emergencies, such as tire fires.
The legislature considered the bill right after two tire fires blazed in March in Polk County, Mo., and Ray County, Mo. The Polk County fire-the cause of which is still undetermined-occurred in an abandoned quarry near Bolivar and involved an estimated 750,000 tires, according to MoDNR estimates.
About 20,000 tires burned in a dump in Ray County after a fire lit on the property for another purpose burned out of control and spread to the tires, said Beth Marsala, an enforcement section chief with the MoDNR's Solid Waste Management Program.
Currently, $1.46 million remains in the scrap tire fund, and an estimated 1.5 million stockpiled tires are left to clean up, Ms. Marsala said.
MoDNR estimates that 300,000 tires are left unburned at the Polk County site and at least 1 million are stockpiled in a quarry in Cass County, which MoDNR hopes to begin abating by year-end, she said.
Four contractors are working on cleaning up sites, and the MoDNR thinks the tire fund will be spent by year-end when revenues start coming in from the new fee, according to Ms. Marsala.
Bob Kotan, president of the Missouri Tire Industry Association, said the tire dealer group is pleased to see the fee reinstated because tire piles were beginning to rebuild again.
He said that without funding, the MoDNR has ``no desire'' to clean up tire piles.
Since its initial institution in 1990, the 50-cent tire fee funded the cleanup of more than 12 million tires, according to the MoDNR. Non-profit organizations involved in tire cleanup efforts were reimbursed by the funds generated from the fee.
In 2004 the General Assembly considered reinstating the fee, but the bills died before adjournment.
Seventy-five percent of Missouri's scrap tires are processed into tire-derived fuel and 15 percent are ground up into crumb rubber, Ms. Marsala said.
Miles Moore, senior Washington reporter, contributed to this report