BAXTER COUNTY, Ar. – Work could soon be underway to clean up some 400-thousand tires sitting on private land in Baxter County, Arkansas.
The tires, located just north of Mountain Home, were supposed to be used for a project called DAMCO.
The Ozark Mountain Solid Waste District (OMSWD) — made up of six northern Arkansas counties — would pay the land owner to take the tires. The landowner would bail them, cover them with dirt and incorporate them into a dam for a pond.
But members of the OMSWD says more tires made it to the DAMCO site than permitted by the state, and after the landowner died some 400-thousand remained bailed above ground.
“I was out there one time and you couldn’t put on enough mosquito spray,” says OMSWD board member and Berryville Mayor, Tim McKinney.
McKinney says most of the remaining tires don’t collect water because they are bailed, but he says there has always been a looming threat of a fire.
“We’re glad to see it over, it’s gone on too long,” he says. “It’s kind of turned into a bureaucratic nightmare.”
Earlier this week, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) proposed a plan that it says is more cost effective and environmentally friendly than hauling the tires off.
The plan is the same as the original: incorporate the bailed tires into the existed dam.
“This is not burial, is actually construction of an engineered structure above ground,” says ADEQ director, Becky Keogh, when asked if the plan could present any environmental hazards.
Keogh says the bidding process for the project will be expedited, with crews potentially starting closure in July of this year.
“We don’t see any concern about the way this project is constructed,” she says. “ It’s structurally sound.”
McKinney says ADEQ will use funds from its post closure account and that tax payers shouldn’t be hit for any additional costs in the future.
The closure is expected to cost between $500,000 and two-million dollars.
McKinney says while he’s happy to see the final chapter approaching he expects it to come with a new set of challenges.
“I think the big question is those big bales, and they’re what? [Four-feet by eight-feet]? They’re pretty good size,” he says.
“How many of them are going to come apart,” McKinney says, “when they move them and place them in the dam?”