We took a hike amongst tires recently in South Dallas. By far, the most discarded tires I’ve ever seen in one area.
We decided to hike the newly opened Goat Island Preserve along the Trinity River in South Dallas, and after finally finding the trailhead, we did not make it far before starting to count tires. Small tires, car tires and huge tractor tires were everywhere — surrounding trees, hanging from branches and under my feet. It was insane.
Dumped tires are major environmental hazards. Tires exposed to the elements can collect water and provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes. This can increase the risk for mosquito borne diseases such as West Nile virus. As tires degrade, they release chemicals and heavy metals contained within them into the environment polluting soil and water quality. Another major concern of discarded tires is their flammability and susceptibility to spontaneous combustion. Tire fires emit high levels of pollution and are notoriously difficult to extinguish.
Despite the city’s efforts to discourage illegal tire dumping, it’s obvious the problem is still rampant. In the City of Dallas, if you are found illegally dumping scrapped tires or any other waste, you can go to jail for up to two years and be fined up to $10,000. Several organizations are working to clean up the Trinity. The City of Dallas’ team removed approximately 33,000 tires from the Trinity River in fiscal year 2013. The dumping still outweighs the clean up and there is no reason to dump. Our landfill, the McCommas Bluff Landfill, accepts up to six tires free of any disposal fee, as long as you show a Dallas Water Utilities bill to prove you live in the area.
But you don’t have to bring your tires to the landfill. There are many other options. While driving out from Goat Island Preserve, right before I-45, there is a tire recycling facility. You can drop off your used tires at Vista International Technologies Incorporated (VITI) for a charge of $0.80 per tire or even better, schedule them to come pick up your used tires. VITI uses a thermal gasifier to convert the chemical energy contained within tires into electricity and thermal energy. Some environmentalists question this practice due to air emissions from the process, but these facilities must meet the Environmental Protection Agency air emission standards to operate.
Old tires can also be used for a variety of at home repurpose projects. Entire homes can be built from used tires, but on a smaller scale can be used as planters, raised garden beds, compost bins, bird baths, tire swings and other playground structures. A quick Pinterest used tire search, results in hundreds of ideas to repurpose old tires in a unique way. There have been concerns about the health implications of used tires in playgrounds and synthetic turfs. The EPA conducted limited studies and found concentrations of components monitored below levels of concern, but more research needs to be completed to get an accurate assessment.
The best way to reduce the amount of tires in our landfills or our river is to take good care of the tires you have. That means, making sure your tires are properly inflated. Tire inflation is important to check at the change of seasons. Our mornings are getting cooler, therefore it’s important to stop and make sure your tires are inflated to the maximum recommended pressure. This ensures your tires will last longer and deliver better gas mileage.
Tire technology is evolving. A new concept tire was introduced earlier this year by Goodyear which generates electricity by converting heat and motion into energy as the tire rolls. The new BHO3 tires are designed to reduce friction and charge your electric car at the same time. The tire is still a concept, but I wonder what the life span will be and how we will discard or recycle their components.
The sight of so many tires in a beautiful natural area was shocking. Next time I have to change tires, the car shop is getting 20 questions on their plans for my old tires. Until then, I’ll be checking my tire inflation weekly, and I hope you are too.
TO REPORT ILLEGAL DUMPING contact Dallas Marshal’s Office – Illegal Dump Team at: 214-670-6820 (IN PROGRESS) and NOT IN PROGRESS – call 3-1-1.
As seen in the Katy Trail Weekly.
And if you are planning on visiting Goat Island Preserve let me help you not get lost like we did. Take I-45 South to Fulghum Road exit. Turn left or east onto Fulghum Road. Turn right onto Post Oak Road and you will run right into the parking lot for Goat Island Preserve. Have fun!
A few more pictures below: