Feb. 2, 2004 – After about three years on hold, it appears that a private-sector project to dispose of used tires on St. Thomas and St. John may soon get rolling.
Bovoni landfill contractor Lester Ashby, owner of A-9 Trucking, has had a sophisticated tire shredder sitting on his property since early 2001. He bought the machine, which cost around $200,000, for use at the landfill, to make mincemeat of used tires. However, it has yet to be put into use — while a mound of old tires is piling up at the landfill awaiting shredding.
Elston Georges, deputy commissioner of Property and Procurement for property and printing, said on Friday that a site for the shredder has been selected at the landfill and it is being surveyed.
Ashby told Georges that if the government is having a problem paying the surveyor, he will cover the cost, and Property and Procurement can deduct the amount from his monthly rent.
"Progress is being made," Georges said. As for the startup date of shredding, "I can't tell you when, but hopefully in the next two weeks," he said.
Public Works Commissioner Wayne Callwood announced late in 2000 that tires could no longer be dumped at the Bovoni landfill. In response, Enrique Rodriguez, general manager of Rodriguez Auto Parts, got together with his counterparts and formed the Virgin Islands Tire Dealers Association to address mutual concerns.
Two years ago, Rodriguez, who chairs the group, announced that in conjunction with Callwood, Public Works solid waste manager Sonya Nelthropp and Ashby it had developed a tire disposal plan for the district utilizing Ashby's shredder. (See the Jan. 12, 2001, report "Shredder to make short work of old tires".)
Now, neither Callwood nor Nelthropp will comment on the plan. Nelthropp said she was never involved with the project, and Callwood referred questions to Ashby.
The machine will reduce the volume of tire waste by about 90 percent, Rodriguez said, so that "you could almost hold the remains of a regular-size tire in your two hands."
The association worked out a disposal fee schedule of $2.25 and up, depending on the size of the tire. Shipping the tires off-island isn't an option, he said. "It would double the cost of tires."
Rodriguez said the shredder has a multitude of advantages. "No more mosquito havens; they love to breed in old tires," he said. "And the shredded tires are less of a fire hazard. And the shredded material can be used for asphalt on roads and private driveways."
Rodriguez and Ashby have been waiting for the government to fulfill its part of the bargain. "I don't understand what's happening," Rodriguez said recently. "You bring your tires to the dump after they are paid for, the machine is here, and our customers have been paying their fees, and they expect their tires are shredded." He said the pile of tires at the landfill could be visible to cruise ship passengers in a few years.
When the go-ahead does come, "Ashby will have to shred these tires already there from previous years," Rodriguez said. "Once that gets going, you will make some money from waste management."
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