SYCAMORE, Ohio—Contractors have begun the final phase of the cleanup of the Kirby´s Tire Recycling Inc. site near Sycamore, according to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
Environmental Quality Management Inc. of Cincinnati won a $3.26 million contract from the Ohio EPA to remove the remaining 5 million to 7 million tires at the 140-acre site, along with contaminated soil surrounding them. The project is expected to take at least until the end of the year, an agency spokeswoman said.
An estimated 25 million tires once were stockpiled at the Kirby site, which began operation in 1950. The Ohio EPA had just begun cleanup there when, in August 1999, four men set fire to the tires. The fire destroyed some 6 million tires, and the plume of smoke from the blaze could be seen as far away as Columbus, Ohio, about 60 miles from the site.
The remaining tires on the site were mashed down and buried in a pit on the site to contain the fire, and many are no longer recognizable as tires, the OEPA spokeswoman said.
"Most of the tires will be shredded and landfilled, and the soil around them will be landfilled too," she said. "There´s really nothing else that can be done with them." The tires from the Kirby site that didn´t burn previously were turned into aggregate for landfill liners and covers, she added.
The four men who started the blaze-Scott Harer, Michael Schindewolf, Kenneth Stacklin and Brent Young-were convicted of arson, sentenced to prison terms ranging from 18 months to four years and ordered to pay millions of dollars in restitution.
In October 2005, meanwhile, Judge Kathleen Aubry of the Wyandot County Common Pleas Court fined Doris Kirby, daughter Rebecca Williams and son-in-law Donald Williams $20 million for violating the state´s scrap tire and solid waste laws. She also ordered them to pay past and future cleanup costs, which state officials said could total as much as $30 million.
The three defendants haven´t appealed the decision, the OEPA spokeswoman said. "But whether we´ll see any of that money is highly doubtful," she added. To date, the OEPA has spent more than $13 million to remove tires and $6 million to treat contaminated surface water at the Kirby site.