ATLANTA — Illegally dumped tires are more than just an eyesore. Holding standing water, they become breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes and havens for rodents. And often, some of the most vulnerable communities in Atlanta suffer from this blight without any routine collection of tires by the city.
This month, volunteers with Georgia State University organizations joined with neighborhood and environmental groups to remove hundreds of tires illegally dumped in some of the city’s most impoverished communities. Collections of the tires will run through 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday, March 10, at 510 Cohen St. S.W.
Environmental Community Action (ECO-Action), the English Avenue Neighborhood Association, officials from Neighborhood Planning Units L and V, the GSU Center for Excellence in Health Disparities Research (CoEx), the GSU Institute of Public Health and Liberty Tire Recycling and members of the community united to remove tires from the English Avenue, Adair Park, Pittsburgh, Mechanicsville, Peoplestown, Summerhill and Vine City communities.
“We are seeking environmental justice for our communities, said Demarcus Peters, who works in partnership with the English Avenue Neighborhood Association and GSU’s CoEx. “This is not just a neighborhood beautification issue; it is a public health issue. Tires that hold standing water can be a prime breeding ground for mosquitoes that can transmit West Nile virus. Unfortunately, we have a recorded case of West Nile in our neighborhood.”
The GSU Department of Geosciences provided GPS systems to help locate tires for placement at designated pick-up sites, where over 1,600 tires were located in hotspots for tire dumping. During the weekend of March 4, more than 500 tires were found in the English Avenue neighborhood alone.
“We were really excited to touch base with the community,” said Cheryl Case, a student at GSU involved in the Community Engagement/Outreach Core of CoEx. “We had a great time.”
Once collections are finished, tires will be taken to Liberty Tire Recycling’s Atlanta facility for processing. Rubber from the tires will be used for products such as alternative fuels and rubber mulch for landscaping and playgrounds.
The city does not collect tires as part of regular garbage pick-ups, and often communities must work together to solve the problem of illegal tire dumping.
“It is estimated that 70% of the tires found were dumped by local tire shops that may have collected a disposal fee, but never properly disposed of the tires”, said Travie Leslie, ECO-Action Community Organizer and former Neighborhood Planning Unit-V President.
Additionally, fees collected from tire disposal fees levied when Georgia consumers purchase new tires are often diverted.
“I am concerned about people using our neighborhood as a dumping ground. We want to be protected. If there is no system in place, the tires are dumped illegally. Therefore, we are pushing for a systematic solution to this systemic problem,” Leslie said.
The GSU Department of Geosciences created a map of the tire dumping locations, which are available for view at http://geospatial.gsu.edu/community/. For more information about CoEx, please visit http://coex.gsu.edu.
March 9, 2012