Forget the pyramids and the Great Wall, the first thing alien visitors might see as they approach the Earth, these days, is the Giant Mound of Tires – a 50-acre site in the back woods of South Carolina estimated to contain 250,000 used tires.
Authorities have charged one person in connection with the recently-discovered dump, according to the Associated Press, which quotes Calhoun County Council Chairman David Summers as suggesting, “You can see it from space.”
How the tires got there appears to be a big question mark. The mess is located on some property hidden away near Columbia, South Carolina and accessible only by a winding dirt road that few even knew about.
The AP says a search revealed the property was owned by Michael Keitt, Jr., of Far Rockaway, NY, who apparently inherited the land from family.
Environmentalists call tires one of the more serious problem they face. The rubber donuts don’t naturally break down but often catch fire creating lung-searing clouds of black smoke. And they also serve as catch basins for rainwater which, in turn, provides a haven for mosquitoes to breed.
The good news is that a Florida firm has been called in to cart away the tires. They will shred them to remove the steel from their belts and the remaining materials can either be processed to produce something similar to oil. The fuel can be used by paper mills and is cleaner than oil. Shredded tires have also been used as an additive to asphalt for road work, or for artificial mulch and a material that can be used to cover playgrounds reducing the risk of injury when children fall.
Local officials in Calhoun County acknowledge they have a problem with tire dumping, for some reason, and suggest the latest 50-acre mound is actually a “baby” compared to a previously discovered illegal tire dump.
The State of South Carolina mandates a $2 charge added to the price of all new tire purchases, ostensibly to fund recycling efforts but that doesn’t mean all old tires actually are accounted for.
So far, only one $475 ticket has been handed out in connection with the massive tire mound, though additional fines could follow.