Oswego County News Release
Oswego County Public Information Office, 46 East Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126

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June 28, 2007

Fire Officials Agree on New Safety Measures at West Monroe Tire Dump

Safety improvements are being made to the operations plan for the state’s remediation of a waste tire stockpile in West Monroe following last Saturday’s fire at the site, Oswego County Fire Coordinator John Hinds announced this morning.

The June 16 fire at the Fortino tire dump on Pinnacle Road “involved what we believe is spontaneous combustion of a waste byproduct in a bunker,” Hinds said. As many as 26 fire departments throughout Oswego County were involved in responding to the fire, moving up to support departments at the scene, or standing by at their home stations for approximately seven hours. No injuries were reported, but Hinds noted that if the fire had spread into the tires on the site, “it would have been an environmental disaster.”

To minimize the chances of another fire and protect the environment and community, Hinds said he and West Monroe Fire Department officials met this week with representatives of the New York State Office of General Services and Department of Environmental Conservation to discuss their concerns.

“They were very cooperative in drafting additional plans and providing for additional safety measures,” said Hinds.

The safety measures agreed upon include:

  • establishing a 24-hour fire watch

  • adding foam equipment and additional drafting ponds for water supply, to aid in fire suppression

  • moving a backlog of the waste product off site with the intent of keeping only a small stockpile on site

The DEC abatement project, which began in 2005, involves the grinding of waste tires into a product that can be used in road construction. During the process, Hinds said, about 6 percent of the tires become a waste product with a very high content of steel. That waste product is kept in a bunker measuring 50 feet long, 200 feet wide and 30 feet high. Hinds said the product in the bunker overheated and caught fire as a result of spontaneous combustion.

The DEC is in the process of removing the waste product to a secure landfill, Hinds said, and will continue removing it on a regular basis.

At one time the site held as many as 10 million waste tires.

“They’re about one-third of the way through cleaning up the site,” Hinds said. Eleven bunkers contain ground tire product which will be transported off the property.

“The fire last Saturday involved only the waste product bunker and tied up most of the county’s fire service for seven hours,” Hinds said. “If it had spread to the tires it would have been much worse.”

According to the DEC’s Web site, significant air pollution results from the incomplete combustion of the tires. As many of the tires melt and partially burn, an oily discharge can flow into nearby waterways and ground water. Hinds pointed out that the wetlands surrounding the Fortino site feed into Oneida Lake, approximately one mile south. Tire fires also are extremely difficult to extinguish.

Saturday’s fire and a smaller one at the site in April “were a dress rehearsal” for the fire response plan, Hinds said. “Now we’re tweaking it.”

Members of the fire service met Thursday night, June 21, at the West Monroe Fire Department to discuss improvements to the plan. Hinds said lack of water, the need for more fire breaks on the site, and access routes are issues that are being addressed.

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