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A Million Dollar Mess: 400,000 Leftover Tires

CLARKRIDGE, Ark. -- Elected leaders in six Arkansas counties are trying to figure out what do to with a million dollar mess along the Missouri-Arkansas border.

CLARKRIDGE, Ark. -- Elected leaders in six Arkansas counties are trying to figure out what do to with a million dollar mess along the Missouri-Arkansas border.

Nearly a half million tires are sitting just north of Mountain Home in Baxter County.

The goal of the DAMCO program was to collect old tires, bail them, and put them underground - creating a dam for a private lake.

"It was a tremendous idea," says Baxter County Judge, Mickey Pendergrass. "That was a great way to get rid of old tires."

"There's a lake back there," Pendergrass said as he peered over a locked gate to the property,  "A lot of the solid material in the ground that holds back the water is tires."

While tens of thousands were used for the purpose of building an underground dam, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality says more than 13,000 tons of "unpermitted" tires are sitting above ground.

Pendergrass says the project was spearheaded by now deceased land owner, Kenton Treat. 

He says Treat negotiated with the Ozark Mountain Solid Waste District to collect tires and bail them for a fee, roughly a dollar a tire according to ADEQ documents.

ADEQ document show that the permit allowed for roughly 28,000 tires on the property at one time, but now it’s believed more than 400,000 are above ground, some of which are not bundled.

"We started seeing an increase in mosquitoes, especially by neighbors," says Pendergrass.

"You've got all these tires that are all stacked together," says Harrison Mayor, Jeff Crockett, who also serves as the Chair for the OMSWD. "They're close together, they're bailed, they're very combustible."

Mayor Crockett says what was underground exceeded permitting totals, the ADEQ shut it down.

"Unfortunately at that time, that didn't not stop DAMCO from taking tires, nor did it keep up from sending them to him," he says.

Complicating matters, Crockett says, is the OMSWD board is made up of ever changing elected officials. He says the District also recently filled for bankruptcy unsuccessfully.

Whoever ends up cleaning up the site could be looking at upwards of a million dollar price tag.

"I'm sure the Treats would like their property cleaned up, however they probably don't want to pay for it," says Crockett. "[The District doesn't] have the money to pay for it, ADEQ doesn't' want to pay for it. They want to hold the people who created the problem, the treats, us, or a combination there of, responsible."

Any attempts to contact the Treats were unsuccessful.

The ADEQ says the department is exploring it’s legal options, but it believes the best outcome will involve cooperation from the land owners and the District.


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