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Civil Suit Over Storage and Handling of Scrap Tires Filed by Michigan DEQ

Lansing, MI— The Department of Attorney General and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) have filed a civil lawsuit against Joseph Heritier doing business as Heritier Drainage, a scrap tire processor located near Twining, Michigan.

Heritier Drainage stores scrap passenger car and truck tires on about two acres, and processes the tires by shredding them into chips for use as fuel by energy companies. DEQ staff estimates there are approximately 140,000 scrap tires accumulated on the property, a violation of the operational requirements under state law for tire collection and processing sites.

Scrap tires, if not properly stored can present a considerable fire hazard. Scrap tire fires frequently take days to put out and produce highly toxic oil that contaminates the environment. Scrap tires may also hold rainwater that allows mosquitoes to rapidly breed and spread, which can carry diseases such as the West Nile Virus and the Equine Encephalitis Virus. State law requires that tires be managed to limit the potential of mosquito breeding.

“This facility is both an environmental risk and a public health concern,” said Attorney General Mike Cox. “This suit demonstrates my commitment, along with the DEQ, to enforce Michigan’s hazardous waste regulations and environmental laws in order to keep families safe.”

Scrap tire processors are required under state law to register each year with the DEQ and post a bond of a sufficient amount that will allow the DEQ to remove scrap tires to abate state law violations, e.g., for the costs of fire suppression and emergencies and cleanup at the site and follow operational and storage requirements.

The complaint filed in the 23rd Circuit Court alleges that Heritier Drainage has violated Part 169; Scrap Tires, and Part 115; Solid Waste Management of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. A hearing is set for June 20 regarding the Attorney General’s motion for preliminary injunction.

The complaint also alleges that Heritier Drainage is not registered as a scrap tire collection site nor has posted the required bond to store scrap tires at the site as required by state law. Heritier Drainage violated a cease and desist order not to accept scrap tires issued by the DEQ in December 2002, because of noncompliance with these operational requirements.

This lawsuit asks the court to order Heritier Drainage to comply with Michigan’s scrap tire law by removing or processing scrap tires to reduce tire pile sizes, provide fencing and a berm for fire protection, and provide the necessary bond and controls to reduce the potential for mosquito breeding. The complaint also asks for the court to assess civil fines and to order Heritier Drainage to reimburse the state for the staff costs that the DEQ has incurred during its enforcement efforts.


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