March 6, 2006 – The Waste Management Authority will have a trailer on St. John in three to four weeks to collect tires languishing at gas stations and rental car agencies, according to Iver Stridiron, the agency's attorney, who spoke at a town meeting Monday. Sen. Craig Barshinger sponsored the meeting, which was at the Westin Resort and Villas.
Stridiron said the agency would continue bringing in trailers until it comes up with a better way to get rid of tires.
The old tire issue came to light last week when officers from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources made the rounds of St. John businesses to tell them they had to get rid of their old tires or they would get a fine.
"There's no way I could comply in 15 days," said Myrtle Barry of E&C gas station, referring to the time frame Planning gave her to get rid of the gas station's 2,000 old tires waiting for disposal.
Albert Willis, who owns St. John Car Rental, said that while he has only four old tires at his business, another one of St. John's gas stations is "busting at the seams" with old tires.
Deputy Public Works Commissioner Ira Wade said he estimates that there are easily 10,000 old tires sitting around St. John. He said that every day his crews pluck old tires and batteries out of Dumpsters and off roads and beaches because people have no way to dispose of them.
Stridiron told those attending the meeting that the Waste Management Authority will tell Planning in writing that the agency will pay to truck the tires off-island so it will stop threatening businesses with fines.
He said it would cost the Waste Management Authority lots of money to do this, but it was a necessity.
St. John is in this pickle because the tire shredding operation at the Bovoni landfill on St. Thomas never got under way. The authority said last week that the equipment is off-island for repairs.
"I've been told for 11 years that we're going to get a tire shredder," Wade said, noting that he's been on the job 11 years.
Stridiron initially said the Waste Management Authority would bring in 20-foot containers for the old tires because that's all St. John could handle, but numerous people said that the island gets 40-foot containers all the time.
Wade told him that a 20-foot container wasn't much help because it could hold only 700 tires.
Also at issue was whether shredding was the best approach. Stridiron said that companies in Florida are willing to buy the tires but they wanted only intact tires.
Barry said a company that sold shredders could put the Waste Management Authority in touch with companies that bought shredded tires.
If the tires are shredded or cut up, more can fit in the trailer. This will reduce the cost per tire for disposal.
Enrique Rodriquez, manager of Rodriquez Tire on St. Thomas, released a letter sent to Aaron Hutchins, who heads Planning's Environmental Protection Division, that indicates it shreds tires for shipment off-island. Rodriquez gives customers the option of paying a small fee for Rodriquez Tire to deal with the old tires or taking the old tires with them.
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