2011-05-04 / Front Page

Ditch your old tires the right way

By Rich Griset

Robious Middle School students Emily Van Doornik and Tucker Kee model their “Tire Amnesty Day” t-shirts. 
Page Dowdy/Chesterfield Observer Robious Middle School students Emily Van Doornik and Tucker Kee model their “Tire Amnesty Day” t-shirts. Page Dowdy/Chesterfield Observer A new holiday may have found a place between Easter and Mother’s Day on county calendars. Created by a group of Robious Middle School students, Chesterfield residents will be able to dispose of car and bicycle tires free of charge on “Tire Amnesty Day.”

The event will take place on May 7, from 9:30 a.m.-noon, at the Southern Area Convenience Center in Chester, and is intended to help curb the number of tires discarded into the environment.

“First of all, it’s illegal,” says 13-year-old Katie Rose, a seventh-grader at Robious. “Also, tires leak cadmium into the soil and kill plants, and if they’re dumped in the river, they can kill fish.”

The idea came from teacher Anne Moore’s seventh-grade environment class, “Trash to Treasure.” In the class, students investigate environmental concerns facing the county, such as littering, and devise ways to correct the problems. Two students tackled the issue of illegal tire dumping and came up with the amnesty day as a way to help combat the problem.

“They’ve really gotten into trying to make the public aware of the dangers of this,” Moore says. “Several of these students have been on cleanups in the area and have seen the tires firsthand.”

The class of 24 students will run the event almost entirely. Students will check proof of residency, educate participants on the environment, off-load tires from vehicles, record data on the tires and analyze the results. Their goal is to collect 2,000 tires. Afterwards the students will celebrate with a cookout.

“I think the students have done a phenomenal job,” Moore says.

Other sponsors include Virginia Waste Services, Shoosmith Brothers, Inc., Chesterfield County’s Anti-Litter Program and Chesterfield County’s General Services Environmental Division.

“We are going to be supplying the dumpsters,” says Audra Butler, a VWS salesperson. In conjunction with Shoosmith Brothers, VWS will take care of transporting the tires and shredding them. “We use them in place of rock inside the landfill,” said Butler.

Rose points out that not only do discarded tires pollute the environment with toxic chemicals, but they retain water as well. Stagnant water can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes, some of which carry the West Nile virus and even malaria.

“I’ve noticed a lot of tires around Chesterfield,” Rose says. “I run cross-country, and I see them on the cross-country trails.”

Tractor tires will not be accepted at the event, and proof of residency, such as a library card or water bill, must be presented. All fees and charges will be waived. Only five tires will be allowed per household, and the first 100 donations will receive gift bags filled with environmentally friendly items.

“It’s a win-win for everybody,” Moore says.

Toss those old tires

Tire Amnesty Day will be held May 7, from 9:30-noon, at the Southern Area Convenience Center, 6700 Landfill Drive, Chester. For more information, call 748- 1297.

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