A bill to extend Virginia's $1-per-tire scrap tire fee until June 30, 2008, overwhelmingly has passed both houses of the Virginia General Assembly and was signed into law by Gov. Tim Kaine on March 31.
The legislation passed the Virginia Senate 40-0 on Feb. 24, about three weeks after the state House of Representatives approved it 84-16.
Without the extension of the $1 scrap tire fee, the fee would have reverted June 30, 2006, to its original level of 50 cents on each new tire sold within the commonwealth. As the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality said in its year-end 2005 scrap tire report to the General Assembly, that reduction would have come at a very bad time for the scrap tire abatement effort in Virginia.
According to the report, the agency estimates there are 136 scrap tire sites containing 2.5 million to 3 million tires left in Virginia, and further projects a total cost of $6 million to complete their cleanup.
In 2005, the DEQ solicited and awarded regional scrap tire cleanup contracts to five companies. Work proceeded well on these contracts, the report said, until in October it became apparent that the state's Waste Tire Trust Fund held insufficient funds to complete the work.
The agency suspended work on those contracts Nov. 1, and told the contractors to finish cleanup of the tire piles they had started work on, but not to begin work on any new piles.
There were two reasons for the shortfall, the DEQ said. First, bid prices escalated because of fuel prices and the long distances contractors had to travel to reach the tire piles. Second, many of the piles were in pits or ravines, causing a significant underestimation of the tires involved. Piles averaged 156 percent more tires than originally estimated, the report stated, with one pile having an overage topping 1,200 percent.