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Tire Piles Cleanup Grants

2005 (ENS) - The state of New Jersey has handed $2.2 million in grants to 16 counties and towns to clean up scrap tire piles and run tire collection programs, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley Campbell said Friday.

The 16 grants range in amounts from $25,000 to $300,000. New Jersey officials say the cleanup will reduce public health threats from West Nile virus and hazardous fires. Mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus breed in pools of rain water that collect in tire piles.

West Nile virus can cause encephalitis, an infection that causes inflammation of the brain which can be fatal. People can become infected with the virus after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

"Cleaning up these piles, which create prime mosquito breeding grounds, is one of our strongest defenses in combating West Nile virus," said Commissioner Campbell. "These grants will help clear tire piles across the state that present environmental and health hazards to communities."

Tire piles also have the potential to catch fire, creating an environmental threat through the release of hazardous air pollutants and potential soil contamination in the surrounding area. In 1990, there was a large fire at a tire pile site in Tabernacle that involved an estimated 200,000 tires.

"The grants will help local officials clean up tire piles to rid their towns of these unsightly hazards and improve public safety," said Acting Governor Richard Codey.

DEP awarded the grants to counties and municipalities on a competitive basis for the proper cleanup of abandoned tire piles. In order to fund as many complete tire pile cleanup projects as possible, a cap of $300,000 per applicant was place on the grant funding.

The approved projects range from sites with more than 20,000 tires to sites with smaller piles. It also includes funding for some county and local tire drop-off programs.

Tire pile cleanups conducted on property that has been or will be acquired by a public agency received a priority ranking since these lands must be used for open space preservation. Grant funds cannot be used to clean up tires on any land currently in commercial use.

County and municipal officials applied to the DEP in December for funding to address tire pile sites in their area. The DEP urges New Jersey residents to report tire dumping to its environmental hotline at 877-WARNDEP (927-6337).