News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 2, 2013

Illegally dumped tires raise concerns Residents say issue creating a health hazard

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Acres of apparently illegally

dumped tires in southern Vigo County are causing concern, especially with mosquito season drawing near.

Hundreds or perhaps thousands of often partly buried tires are scattered amid grass, branches and other debris in a remote area of Prairieton Township, not far from Honey Creek, the Wabash River and several homes. Residents of the farming area say the tires have been a problem for decades.

“I think the tires are a health hazard because of West Nile virus,” said Bill Chickadaunce, from whose property west of Indiana 63 large numbers of tires are visible.

Discarded tires, because they hold rain water, can become breeding pools for mosquitoes that can transmit West Nile virus to humans. “When it warms up, the mosquitoes are just tremendous because of all the tires,” Chickadaunce said.

The tires are the product of frequent illegal dumping in the area, said Dave Voges, a farmer who also lives in “the bottoms,” a Prairieton farm area protected by the 8-mile-long Honey Creek levee, which holds back flood waters from nearby Honey Creek, the Wabash River and a smaller stream.

“It’s been a problem all my life,” said Voges, who is 73 and is chairman of the Honey Creek Levee Association, which maintains the levee.

The tires are spread over a long stretch along the levee, Chickadaunce said. “I know that they’re just dumped in piles,” he said.

At least some of the tires are on the Voges farmland. Still others are on land owned by CSN, a Brazilian steel company with a plant in the Vigo County Industrial Park. An official with CSN could not be reached for comment Monday. Other property owners may also be affected.

Dale Sowards with the Vigo County Building Inspector’s office, when reached Monday, said he was unaware of this particular tire problem but planned to check it immediately. Big tire dumps become matters for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, he noted. IDEM officials could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

In most cases, property owners are cited when large numbers of illegally dumped tires are found because it’s almost impossible to trace the true source of the tires, Sowards said.

Illegal tire dumping is not uncommon in remote areas of the county, Sowards added. Sometimes, unscrupulous firms charge people to dispose of tires only to then illegally dump them at no cost to themselves. Many landfills, because of the extra effort involved in disposing of tires, charge fees of up to $2 apiece for tire disposal.

To combat West Nile virus, the Vigo County Health Department sponsors a free “tire amnesty day” each year to take tires off people’s hands at no charge.

Catching people illegally dumping tires can be a problem, Voges said. However, sometimes a person’s trash gives them away. Other times, vehicles used for dumping will become stuck in the muddy ground, making them easy prey for law enforcement, he said.

“It’s on everybody’s property,” Voges said. “Something needs to be done.”

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or