Kittitas County asks for public's help to stop tire dumping

KITTITAS COUNTY NEWS RELEASE -- The Kittitas County Public Works Department has cleaned up more than 600 illegally dumped tires along county roads in the past 6 months. Tires have also been dumped on State highways in Kittitas County. Illegal dumping, also known as "midnight" dumping, is the term used to describe disposing of waste in unauthorized areas. It is an environmental crime. Depending on the circumstances, the fines can be quite heavy.
State law requires businesses that haul waste tires to obtain licenses, and businesses that haul 5 or more tires must obtain a Waste Tire Carrier license from the Washington Business License Service.

Penalties for Unlicensed Transporting, Storing, or Disposing of Waste Tires are high.

Disposing of waste vehicle tires on public or private property can result in a $200 to $2,000 civil penalty for each offense (RCW 70.95.500).
Transporting or storing waste tires without a valid Waste Tire Carrier License or Waste Tire Storage License is a gross misdemeanor (RCW 70.95.560). The penalty for a gross misdemeanor could include up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both (RCW 9A.20.021 (2)).
The person transporting waste tires without a license is liable for the costs of cleanup of any and all transported waste tires (RCW 70.95.555 (2)).

Tire dumping can cause harmful environmental consequences. 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.

The County Road Maintenance Manager, Jim Van de Venter, charged with cleaning up the illegally dumped tires, states: "I think a lot of it is ignorance, that people don't realize how much harm you can do to the environment by dumping a tire. It costs the taxpayer a lot of money to clean up all the dumped tires. We 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 dump sites, and keeping their eyes open for trucks and trailers carrying used tires."

Anyone with tips on illegal tire dumping should call the KITTCOM non-emergency number at (509) 925-8534. You will need the license plate number, make of the vehicle, time of day, location and date.