Australian Government will pay $1.5 million to clean up 500,000 scrap tires at a dump in Numurkah. Photo: ABC Goulburn Murray: Rhiannon Tuffield

Australian authorities have finally closed the infamous unsanctioned tire dump with 5,000 tons of scrap tires located north of Victoria, Australia, as it threatened health and security of the community.

For the site’s waste pile removal at Numurkah, near Shepparton, the officials allocated $1.5 million of public money. The stockpile started accumulating about 10 years ago, and 5 years ago it witnessed a tire fire.

The effort was taken following the court’s verdict made in October to jail and fine operator Shanan James Sidebottom as he had failed to comply with numerous orders demanding the clearance of scrap tires.

Commenting on the removal process of 500,000 scrap tires, Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said that approximately 10 weeks would be required to complete the clean-up. After the removal, tires will end up at tire recycling plant Tyrerecycle in Melbourne where they will be shredded into crumb rubber and rubber powder or converted into tire-dervied fuel.

The environment minister further stressed that the illegal tire stockpile threatened the neighboring public and the environment. The public safety will be ensured by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), as the organization will tackle all sorts of risks posed by the tires, including the threat of pests and vermin living and breeding at the site.

In 2007, the Sidebottom Group initiated its tire collecting activities following the council’s permit. At first, the project seemed to be ambitions, promised to create jobs and showed potential; however, starting from 2013, the group simply accumulated scrap tires. Moreover, the government’s hopes started to deflate after the fire broke out at the site fight years ago.

At the same time, the authorities had introduced more rigid laws regarding scrap tire stockpiles that contain 5,000 tires and more. In addition, the government provided EPA with more power.

Even though Sidebottom was jailed in October for 4 months and now must pay a fine of $50,000, the community was still outraged as the process had been too enduring and the public had to face risks. Moreover, they stated that the size of the fine didn’t reflect the actual risks and was disproportionate.

Article by ABC