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Mecca tire-recycling plant ordered to remove stockpiles that pose fire danger

June 1, 2011 |  3:19 pm

Federal environmental regulators Wednesday ordered a tire recycling plant in the Coachella Valley town of Mecca to remove excess stockpiles of tires that pose a fire danger.

The tire recycler operates on the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians reservation and neighbors a soil-recycling plant that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in May determined was the source of noxious odors that closed down an elementary school nearby.

The EPA ordered that company -- Western Environmental Inc., which also operates on reservation land -- to cease accepting hazardous materials. The order, in effect, shut most of the operation down.

The tire recycler, Consolidated Tire Recyclers Inc. in the 90300 block of 63rd Avenue, grinds up the mammoth mounds of tires and sells the crumb rubber as fuel for a power generation plant. The EPA determined that all 90,000 tires at the site are an imminent fire risk, but just ordered the removal of the excess stockpiles.

“A large tire fire could pose a serious public health threat for the citizens of Mecca,’’ said Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA’s administrator for the Southwest region.

The Cabazon tribe issued a violation May 26 to the tire recycler and ordered the company to better manage the tires at the facility. As a sovereign nation, the tribe issues permits to businesses that operate on reservation land.

The EPA ordered the tire recycler to stop receiving tires, properly store the tires currently on the site and upgrade the facility's fire suppression system.


Noxious odor plagues poor desert communities

-- Phil Willon in Riverside