From November 2002 through April 2003, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources located almost 500,000 scrap tires dumped in 93 previously unknown dumpsites in Missouri.

Cleaning up illegal tire sites is a top priority for the Department of Natural Resources. Waste tire piles provide ideal breeding sites for mosquitoes that carry disease such as West Nile Virus. Seven Missouri residents have died of the virus. Approximately 168 state residents are known to have contracted the disease.

Through a series of news releases and public announcements, the department offered to pay up to 90 percent of the cost of removal to property owners who have tire piles containing 500 to 20,000 tires. Department staff contacted approximately 60 property owners already known to fit into this category to describe the offer in detail.

The press releases and announcements asked for calls from citizens regarding the department's "20,000 Waste Tire Cleanup Strategy." Between Nov. 1, 2002, and April 30, 2003, the Department of Natural Resources' Scrap Tire Unit received more than 500 calls from citizens interested in cleaning up scrap tires. Many of these calls came from property owners who had less than 500 tires or from local governments who wanted to conduct regional tire cleanups or to assist non-profit groups in obtaining reimbursement for small site tire cleanups. These citizens were directed to other assistance programs that would address their needs. More than 100 calls came from property owners who reported piles of 500 to 20,000 tires. Ninety-three new dumpsites containing a total of an estimated 500,000 tires were discovered. Citizens also reported tire dumps on other people's property.

Cost recovery details were worked out and agreements were signed so that the cleanups could begin. The first clean up started March 17, 2003. As of March 10, 2004, 31 sites have been cleaned up and a total of 182,487 tires removed from the environment. Seventy-two additional sites are now approved for clean up and we hope to have them completed by the end of 2004, using unexpended scrap tire funds that have been obligated for this purpose.

Since the early 1990s, more than 12 million scrap tires have been removed from illegal dumps throughout the state for recycling or tire derived fuel. This effort was funded by a 50-cent per tire fee collected as consumers buy new tires. This fee expired on Jan.1, 2004 when a bill to renew the fee was not passed during the 2003 legislative session.

It is estimated that about 3.8 million more scrap tires remain scattered across the state. For more information on tire-site cleanups or for advice on how to properly dispose of scrap tires, contact members of the department's Solid Waste Management Program at 573-751-5401 or call the department's toll-free number, 800-361-4827.

Last Updated Jan. 17, 2006