Tired of tires




Date: 18 Mar 2004
From: "Peter Montague" {Peter@rachel.org}


By Joel Bewley, Philadelphia Inquirer, Mar. 18, 2004

Tabernacle - As politicians talked about progress, Greg Foster had
another take yesterday on the massive shredder that was spitting out
pieces of old tires on his family's Pinelands property.

"This is my father's legacy," he said. "He worked hard out here to
provide for his family. He died working out here."

Even so, Foster said he was glad to see the cleanup of the mess
begin. An estimated 1 million tires are spread out over a dozen acres,
the remnants of a tire-collection business his father, Asa, began
about 50 years ago.

For Burlington County officials, the legacy is a breeding ground for
countless mosquitoes that use the stagnant water inside the tires to
hatch eggs. Officials have been working since 2002 to get funds to
remove the tires.

The site is listed by the Department of Environmental Protection as
the largest tire accumulation in the state.

"It has been a major concern, and shredding them will prevent any
more water from gathering," Freeholder William S. Haines Jr. said.
"Removing all of them will be another issue."

A Forked River company, Magnum Condemerx Corp., is being paid
$359,000 to shred the tires into chips that measure 4 square inches.

The contract calls for the company to haul away about 20 percent of
the chips. It is uncertain whether the county will help pay for
removal of the remaining chips.

All but $37,500 of the contract will be paid through a DEP grant. The
county is picking up the difference.

The county plans to place a lien on the property to recoup its money,
county attorney Evan Crook said.

Foster said the family's relationship with the county has been
amicable, and he expects something can be worked out.

"Hopefully, we will be able to resolve it," he said.

The business was active until his father's death in 1977, Foster
said. The New Jersey Turnpike Authority was one of the biggest

In the mid-1980s, the state told the family it would have to remove
the tires, he said. The family has made attempts to satisfy the state
but could never raise the money needed for the project.

The family is grateful to the county for seeking the grant, said
Sharon Foster-Gautier, Asa's daughter.

Her 86-year-old mother still lives in a house on the property. The
family hopes to create a Christian camp for children on the land.

Foster-Gautier presented Haines a dozen red roses yesterday, using
part of a shredded tire as a basket. "There is no way we could pay to
get rid of a million tires," she said.

The estimated number of tires has been pegged as high as 3 million by
some officials.

It is estimated that a fire set by vandals in 1990 burned about a
million of them. The blaze was extinguished using sand and dirt. The
burned tires remained buried on the property and are not part of the

The tires are too brittle to be recycled into asphalt and other
traditional uses, said Mary Pat Robbie, director of the county's
resource conservation department. Instead, it is likely that they will
become buffer material in the bottom of landfills, where they can be
used to prevent garbage from puncturing the landfill's liner, she

The cost estimate to remove and discard the remaining chips was not
available yesterday. Crook said it was uncertain at this point whether
the county would seek money to finish the job.

"Our concern is abating the nuisance, and our health experts say that
will be accomplished by shredding the tires," he said. "Whether or not
the county will be willing to put more money toward removing the chips
is still an open question at this point."

Workers have until the end of the month to get rid of the pile. If
they fail to finish by April 1, they will have to return and resume
work in late October in order to avoid disrupting snakes during their
active season, in compliance with a DEP policy.

According to the DEP, there are 19 sites in New Jersey that have an
estimated 50,000 or more tires. Eight of those sites are still in
operation as auto salvage yards and still accept tires.

Gloucester County has seven sites, creating a combined estimated
total of 750,000 tires. That county has been awarded a $750,000 grant
to help clean up 3the mess.

Gloucester received the largest of the grants, which totaled $2.4
million and were given to 10 counties.

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Contact staff writer Joel Bewley at 609-261-0900 or