4m scrap tires removed from US-Mexico border this year

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Environmental Secretaries from all ten US – Mexico border states met this week in Hollywood, Calif., to sign the Tire Initiative Letter of Understanding, which implements tire pile prevention measures and strives to eliminate tire piles public health risks. To date, 4 million tires have been removed by Border 2012 Program Partners. The Border Governors Conference features representatives from California, Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. The Tire Initiative is a joint partnership by the US Environmental Protection Agency and Mexican Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) to reduce scrap tire waste in the border region.

“Scrap tires along the U.S. – Mexico border pose major health threats for the millions of border residents,” said Matt Hale, Director of the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste. “With the support of both of our countries, we can prevent the creation of additional scrap tire piles and clean up our border communities,” said Hale.

Disease carrying pests such as rodents often inhabit tire piles. Mosquitoes – who breed in the stagnant water collected inside tires - can carry deadly diseases, including encephalitis, West Nile virus, dengue fever and malaria. Scrap tire fires are difficult to extinguish, and can burn for weeks or months. Tire fires release thick black smoke and can contaminate the soil with an oily residue. Furthermore, tire pile fires generate large amounts of liquid waste that contaminate soil and ground and surface water.

Collaboration has extended beyond the federal environmental level as states and municipalities on both sides of the border and private industry, notably the U.S. Rubber Manufactures Association, have joined in implementing the Tire Initiative’s tire pile prevention measures.

The EPA’s Border 2012 U.S.-Mexico Environmental Program works to protect the environment and public health for 10 states on both sides of the 2,000-mile border, including 26 U.S. tribes and seven groups of Mexican indigenous people. Border 2012 seeks to reduce pollution in water, air, and on land, reduce exposure to chemicals from accidental releases or terrorism, and improve environmental stewardship.

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