SYCAMORE, Ohio (Oct. 19) — Former owners of the Kirby´s Tire Recycling Inc. site in Sycamore may end up liable for as much as $50 million in penalties if a Wyandot County Common Pleas Court judge´s award stands.
Judge Kathleen Aubry ordered Doris Kirby and Don and Rebecca Williams to pay $20 million in civil penalties plus full restitution to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for cleanup costs related to an August 1999 tire fire at the site that burned some 6 million tires. The cost of the cleanup could rise as high as $30 million, the Ohio EPA said in 2000.
In making the judgment, Aubry said she knew the defendants had nowhere near that much money, but she wanted to make an example for other disposal site owners who let their properties grow out of control.
As of late August, the Ohio EPA and its contractors had removed 16 million above-ground tires at the site, an agency spokeswoman said, and it would start clearing the property of buried debris after clearing the remaining 2 million above-ground tires. "The judgment clearly sends a message that we just won´t tolerate flouting the environmental laws of this state," she said.
Dean Henry, the defendant´s attorney, could not immediately be reached for comment.