Frank Schultz
Dan Langone talks about the difference between tires and the bales of tire-based "stabilization blocks" stored on his land in Beloit.

DNR, business owner at odds over Beloit used-tire operation

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Frank Schultz
October 19, 2015

BELOIT—State officials are accusing a Beloit used-tire business of creating the potential for an environmental disaster by storing tens of thousands of tires.

The business operator and property owner say the operation is safe and does not contain a big pile of tires of the kind that have caused hard-to-extinguish tire fires elsewhere.

No pile of randomly dumped castoff tires was evident Monday on the property at 1515 Yates Ave. in an area of Beloit where industrial and residential properties share a neighborhood.

The operation, run by Tom Taylor of the Rockford, Illinois-based Star Used Tire Disposal, cuts sidewalls from tires for use as bases for highway construction warning barrels and as weights to hold down tarps on farms.

Taylor also operates a machine that compresses 60 to 100 tires into bales that are sold for use in construction and for stabilizing shorelines.

Many of the bales are stacked outdoors on the site, as are bundles of sidewalls, both awaiting shipment to customers.

Taylor would say little about the lawsuit, saying he needs to speak to his attorney, first. But Dan Langone, who owns the building and land where the tires are stored in Beloit, spoke for his tenant.

“I'm frustrated and angry about the whole thing, and to say we are running a dump here is absolutely incorrect,” Langone said.

The lawsuit, filed in Rock County Circuit Court on Oct. 9, says the tires could catch fire, and the water needed to put out the fire would flow, along with contaminants, into Turtle Creek about one-half mile away.

Langone said the massive tire bales he calls stabilization blocks contain only 5 percent air, so to set them on fire would take an accelerant such as gasoline or a huge blaze—neither of which are likely.

If they did catch fire, chemical fire retardants, not water, would be the best way to put them out, Langone argued, and second best is to separate them and smother the flames with sand.

Langone has piles of sand and dirt for that purpose on site, and he said that unlike a massive pile of tires, the blocks are easily pulled apart to access a fire.

The blocks of rubber really aren't tires anymore, Langone argue. Rather, they are a new product, so the state's contention that the property is a tire dump is wrong.

The blocks make up a majority of the tire material on the site. Tire parts that can't be used are also on the property, but they are stacked neatly, awaiting shipment to Indiana and elsewhere, where they will be ground up for other uses, Langone said.

The lawsuit filed by the state Department of Justice says Langone and Taylor are operating a solid-waste facility and a “nuisance tire dump,” as defined by state statutes, without a state Department of Natural Resources license.

Langone said the operation is not a tire dump or solid-waste facility, and Taylor has had state permits to carry out his tire-processing and tire-disposal operation for about five years.

The lawsuit states that a DNR official found about 5,000 tires on the site in 2011 and issued a citation for operating a solid-waste facility without a license.

Later, Taylor told officials that 3,000 to 4,000 tires had been moved from the site, according to the suit.

Then in spring 2014, about 100,000 tires were found on the site, the lawsuit claims.

The DNR has had enforcement meetings with Taylor in which he agreed to reduce the numbers of tires on the site, but as of Jan. 16, 2015, the site still had 90,000 to 100,000 tires, the lawsuit states.

The suit asks a judge to order fines and penalties and for an injunction requiring removal of all tires within 30 days.

The suit requires a response in 20 days, but Langone said he and Taylor have not yet been officially notified of the lawsuit.

Taylor said he has been in the used-tire business for 23 years. His said he processes 350,000 or more tires a year, serving the tire-disposal needs of Rockford, Beloit and towns in between.

Langone said Taylor performs a public service in finding uses for one of the biggest solid-waste problems.

Some weeks more tires enter the site than go out after processing, and some weeks, more product leaves the site than tires enter, Taylor said.

Taylor said he has talked to some neighbors, and none has expressed any opposition to the operation.

Taylor said he can't keep up with the orders for the tire sidewalls, but the market for the compressed blocks is apparently weak at the moment.

Langone had wanted to use the blocks to fill the basement of a demolished building on the site but couldn't get a permit for that, so those blocks are stored on the site until a buyer is found, Langone said.

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