State prison inmates have hauled almost five-million old tires out of almost 300 illegal dumps but still have work to do.
Dumping of tires became illegal in 19-90 in Missouri. Five years later the corrections department and the natural resources department agreed to let trustee prisoners haul out those tires, take them to a prison near Jefferson City, and grind them up. The chips are then used as fuel at the University of Missouri-Columbia heating plant.
Corrections Department spokesman Brian Hauswirth says sites are sometimes hard to get to and sometimes are hazardous. He says cleanup crews have sometimes encountered rattlesnakes. In fact, inmates sometimes have to wait for cold weather to do their work so the snakes are not a problem. Hauswirth says one site, near Archie, had more than 100 rattlesnakes in it. He says that site was too dangerous for several months.
Inmates also get tire scraps from the state transportation department. Department crews pick up the tire remnants we see on the highways, take them to their offices, and inmates pick them up. Hauswirth says those scraps are the equivalent of another two-to-three-hundred thousand tires that inmates have recycled.