Illinois DNR Conservation Police, Illinois EPA investigation prompted by dumping of hundreds of tires near Hennepin Canal State Trail
MILAN, IL – An investigation by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Conservation Police and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has resulted in the arrest of a Rock Island man on charges related to the dumping of waste tires at and near the Hennepin Canal State Trail.
The investigation began in June following the discovery of more than 400 waste tires dumped in the area of the Hennepin Canal State Trail near Milan, and stored illegally at the suspect’s residence. With the assistance of personnel from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), IDNR Conservation Police arrested 47-year-old John Spaulding of Rock Island for the illegal dumping of junk tires (three misdemeanor counts) and for operating an illegal tire storage facility (one misdemeanor count). Misdemeanor violations involving the illegal transportation and storage of tires are also pending against two other Quad Cities area men in connection with this case.
In Illinois, anyone transporting more than 20 used or waste tires or storing more than 50 used or waste tires is required to have a permit from the IEPA. Transporters of more than 20 used or waste tires must register the vehicle(s) with the IEPA and display a placard on both sides of each registered vehicle.
It is also illegal to cause or allow the open dumping of any used or waste tire in Illinois. Most violations of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act, including transportation of used and waste tires by an unregistered hauler, or maintaining an unpermitted used tire storage site, are Class A misdemeanors. However, certain aggravated offenses are felonies. Because of the serious risks to human health and the environment associated with open dumped waste tires, the General Assembly amended the Criminal Disposal of Waste provisions of Section 44(p) of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act in Public Act 97-286, effective August 10, 2011, to provide that anyone open-dumping more than 50 waste tires is guilty of a Class 4 felony.
Used and waste tires transported by unregistered haulers often end up in unmanaged and illegal tire dumps. The improper storage and disposal of waste tires can create a significant threat to human health by increasing the proliferation of disease-carrying mosquitoes. The stagnant water contained in waste tires is a prime breeding habitat for disease-carrying mosquitoes, including those which are a primary carrier of West Nile virus.
Another major concern involving illegally dumped tires is tire fires. Tire fires burn very hot, are extremely difficult to extinguish, and are expensive to clean up. While discarded used tires are not considered hazardous waste, the hazardous compounds released during tire fires can be a serious health risk (including gases, heavy metals and oils). Also, tires can melt into an oily substance that can form a harmful run-off that can contaminate nearby surface water when the fire is doused with water. Tire fires threaten the pollution of air, water and soil.
“With Illinois producing more than 14 million used tires a year, the Illinois EPA has the difficult task of making sure that all of these tires are managed and disposed properly,” said Todd Marvel, manager of IEPA’s Used Tire Program. “We appreciate the effort and cooperation of the Illinois Conservation Police on these cases, and will welcome the assistance of all state, county and local law enforcement officers, as well as members of the public, in locating and reporting additional illegal tire storage facilities and open dumps.”
All law enforcement officers in Illinois are charged with the duty of enforcing the provisions of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act, including the used and waste tire provisions. The Act gives prosecution jurisdiction to either the Illinois Attorney General or the State's Attorney of the county where the violation occurred. In this instance, prosecution is being handled through the Rock Island County State’s Attorney’s Office. “These cases are a good example of how cooperative enforcement should operate to help protect public health and the environment,” Marvel said.