CHICAGO – On the anniversary of a devastating fire in Hoopeston, Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to strengthen oversight of used tire processing and storage facilities. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to protect our natural resources and ensure a clean and healthy environment for future generations.
“The destructive fire that shook Hoopeston last year proved the need for increased oversight of our used tire facilities,” Governor Quinn said. “This new law will help safeguard against any disaster of this magnitude and ensure our communities are protected. It will protect the environment and homeowners, and help find alternative uses for used and waste tires.”
On June 19, 2013, a large accumulation of tires at J&R Used Tire Service in Hoopeston ignited and burned for more than a month. Nearby residents were evacuated, a railway and local roads were blocked off and emergency responders occupied the site to prevent the fire from spreading. The resulting damage to the facility required demolition of all structures on-site. The response action, clean-up of debris and demolition took until November 2013 to complete. SB 2671 was proposed by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) in response to the Hoopeston fire.
“This bill helps us ensure these facilities are meeting requirements to protect Illinois residents,” IEPA Director Lisa Bonnett said. “The IEPA will also be able to initiate a market development program for used tires, resulting in increased economic activity and job creation.”
Senate Bill 2671, sponsored by State Senator Michael Frerichs (D-Champaign) and State Representative Will Davis (D-Hazel Crest), requires used tire storage sites with more than 10,000 passenger tires, or that process 500 tons of used tires in a calendar year, to acquire a solid waste permit to operate in Illinois. As part of the permitting process, these facilities will be required to comply with regulations by maintaining records, allowing inspections and submitting documentation, including a tire storage plan and a contingency plan, to the IEPA. Any tire facility that does not comply with financial assurance requirements could be ordered to immediately cease operations to prevent any threat to the public health and the environment. The new law also authorizes the IEPA to establish a program to develop new markets for used and waste tires. The legislation is effective immediately.
“We were able to quickly respond to last year’s tire fire in Hoopeston and institute new guidelines to prevent other communities from experiencing similar accidents,” Senator Frerichs said. “This new law will help save state funds that would otherwise have to be spent on environmental clean-up.”
“Illinois residents want to make sure our neighborhoods are protected from harmful waste and pollution,” Representative Davis said. “If we want to maintain our neighborhoods for generations to come, we have to improve sustainability efforts, hold corporations accountable for their impact on the environment and hold them to strict environmental standards.”
Each year, the IEPA co-sponsors approximately 20 county-wide tire collections where local governments can give used tires the state to remove. The agency also forces the removal of waste tires from dumps that pose an immediate threat to human health and the environment. Already in 2014, IEPA has removed more than 875 tons of waste tires, equivalent to more than 70,000 passenger tires.