The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

September 7, 2012

Help people solve environmental woes

Daily Item

---- — Ben Snyder sounds like he is feeling besieged by government regulators. Snyder is the owner of 5,000 waste tires, scattered across his rural Northumberland County property.

He came to the attention of the Department of Environmental Protection about a month ago.

They gave Snyder two weeks to come up with a plan to get rid of the tires.

Snyder has not complied.

Snyder said he "is working with the DEP" but "it is going to take a little bit."

Snyder said he is seeking an alternative that would allow him to dispose of the tires in an environmentally responsible manner. Snyder added that he does not feel that DEP shares his concern. Regulators would have him send the tires to a landfill, he said. Snyder would rather take the tires to a recycling center.

Because of his inaction, DEP is now mulling "additional enforcement options."

Snyder, obviously, somehow got himself into this position. Five thousand tires do not just fall out of the sky. But whether Snyder made a miscalculation or had ill-conceived plan that just did not pan out, he seems like someone who needs help as much as ominous enforcement options.

Waste tires pose a legitimate health threat, one that has become more serious as hot weather has contributed toward a spike in mosquitoes, some of which may harbor West Nile Virus.

Tire piles are excellent breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Because of the shape and impermeability of tires, they may hold water for long periods of time providing sites for mosquito larvae development.

The Department of Enviromental Protection has offered guidance for those who are responsible for tire piles. At a minimum, tires ought to be covered by tarps to limit the likelihood that the tires will fill with and hold stagnant water. Other responsible steps include removing the side wall or drilling holes in the tires so that water drains out.

The public's interest in environmental protection is just that -- ensuring that the water, air and land are not adversely affected by human activity and that people can be assured that the environment around them is safe.

The Department of Environmental Protection has the expertise to help people who have created environmental hazards, accidentally or not. The enforcers of the law ought to put that expertise to use to serve as problem-solvers in addition to problem-identifiers.