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Post date: June 17 1999

Attorney General And Dec Expand Action Against Tire Dump

Attorney General Spitzer and Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner John Cahill today broadened the state's crackdown against a massive tire dump in Saratoga County that is considered to be a major fire hazard. Spitzer and Cahill also moved to close down a related facility being used as a secondary illegal waste tire storage site.

"Mohawk Tire is an environmental and public health nightmare," Spitzer said. "This rogue operation has been conducting business in flagrant disregard of the law and has moved some of its activity to another unlicensed site in an effort to evade scrutiny. We are working aggressively with the state Department of Environmental Conservation to shut down both operations to protect the community."

"DEC has made every effort to work cooperatively with Mohawk Tire to allow them a fair chance to comply with environmental regulations but they have continued to flagrantly ignore the law," said Cahill. "Consequently, last week I was forced to issue an order to shut down their facility and to take immediate steps to reduce the risk of fire. Today, the Attorney General and I are expanding the action begun last week. I hope this sends a clear message that the state will not tolerate these rogue waste tire dumps."

Albany County Judge Bernard J. Malone today issued a sweeping order barring Mohawk Tire from accepting shipments of waste tires and further ordered the company to immediately construct a security fence around its property. In addition, Malone prohibited Mohawk Tire from storing and shredding waste tires at a related site it has been using -- Disonell Enterprises, Ltd., at 1000 19th St. in the City of Watervliet.

As many as five million waste tires are piled in heaps at the 38-acre Mohawk Tire site straddling the border between the towns of Waterford and Halfmoon. Thousands more tires are illegally stored in tractor trailers at the Disonell site which has no permit from DEC.

Mohawk Tire has been operating under a 1996 consent order with the state Department of Environmental Conservation. But in violation of the order, Mohawk Tire has failed to put in place a fire safety plan and has continued receiving tires when it was required to reduce its stock of tires.

There are an estimated 30 million waste tires stored across New York. At last count there were 114 waste tire dumps holding 1,000 or more tires apiece. Mohawk Tire is believed to be the state's second-largest tire dump, smaller only than the Fortino site near Syracuse where an estimated eight million waste tires are stored.

Spitzer and Cahill are moving to close down Mohawk Tire out of concern that a fire there could create a public health and environmental disaster. A fire at Mohawk Tire could:

  • release up to three gallons of petroleum from each tire burned and shroud the area in plumes of toxic smoke;
  • ignite a partially exposed natural gas pipeline that crosses the site;
  • topple a high-voltage power line whose creosote soaked support towers stand in piles of tires;
  • force the closure of the 1,500-employee General Electric plant in Waterford which borders the site;
  • endanger the health of students at the Halfmoon Waterford school 1/2 mile from the site;
  • pollute the Hudson River which runs near the site; and
  • endanger a nearby business where thousands of gallons of hydrogen peroxide and hydrochloric acid are stored.

Judge Malone also ordered the Mohawk defendants to cease mining activities at two clay mines -- covering 10 acres -- at the tire dump.

In addition to closing down illegal tire storage and mining operations at the Mohawk and Disonell sites, Spitzer and Cahill are seeking a court order preventing the company from operating an illegal construction and debris dump at the Mohawk site. Recent inspections show that tons of solid waste are illegally piled up at various locations on Mohawk Tire's property.

On June 9, Cahill ordered Mohawk Tire not to accept any additional tires and to take steps to immediately reduce the threat of fire at the dump.Today's action bolsters last week's initiative with the force of a court order. A hearing on the matter has been scheduled for 10 a.m. on June 22 at DEC headquarters.

The Mohawk Tire case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General John Sipos of the Environmental Protection Bureau with the assistance of DEC Associate Counsel Dominic Cordisco.