The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is launching "Operation Clean Sweep," a $3 million program to clean up the commonwealth's estimated 3 million scrap tires remaining in 342 piles.
Bids have been issued for contracts to remove the tires and transport them to processing facilities, according to a DEQ news release. A department spokesman said he didn't know offhand the deadline for the bids.
The plan for Operation Clean Sweep calls for rolling out the program by region, starting in November in Richmond and the counties just south of it, as well as the coastline areas known as the Middle Peninsula and the Northern Neck.
The commonwealth's four remaining regions-the Tidewater, Northern Virginia, Central Virginia and Southwest Virginia-will be added to the program in order between December 2004 and March 2005. The DEQ expects to complete the cleanup process during March 2006.
To fund the cleanup, the Virginia General Assembly doubled the scrap tire disposal fee on new retail sales in its 2003 session, from 50 cents to $1 per tire. The increase will continue until 2006, at which time the fee will revert to 50 cents per tire, the spokesman said.
Virginia has levied the 50-cent fee since 1989. Since 1993, the commonwealth has successfully cleaned up 766 piles containing more than 17 million scrap tires, according to the DEQ.
While the department thinks it has identified all the remaining tire piles in Virginia, there is always the possibility it will find more, the spokesman said. "Depending on the size and location, they might be able to include new piles within this program, but we'll just have to wait and see," he said.