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Tire dump days might be numbered

A community activist who has been trying to get a tire dump waste site on Neal Road cleaned up for more than two years says that the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality is supposed to begin cleanup operations at the site on June 30.

George Janet, who lives only a few yards from an acre that contains more than an estimated 6,000 tires, says that the owner of the property was given until May 15 to clean up the site, but nothing was done.

Janet said DEQ people said that if it were not cleaned up by then, they would move in and clean it up themselves.

Janet said the DEQ officials told him they already have the legal authority to move onto the private property and begin the cleanup.

Janet first approached the Picayune City Council on Aug. 4, 2009, complaining about the site, which he said harbors mosquitoes and vermin, and told the council that if it caught on fire, it would require the evacuation of the whole community surrounding the site and would endanger the lives and health of the firemen called to put out the fire.

He said that the fire department did not have an evacuation plan for the neighborhood in case the tires caught on fire.

He also said that city officials told him they did not have enough money to clean it up, that funding would have to come from the state. City officials said they only had about $20,000 to devote to the project which is estimated to cost between $80,000 and $90,000 to clean up.

The state has a fund for cases such as this one. The small disposal fee paid by tire purchasers goes to support the clean up fund, said Janet.

No one would release the name of the person who owns the property. Janet said he thought the man who brought the tires to the site had died, and that the property was now owned by heirs.

He alleged that the tires came from businesses in Louisiana and that the person who brought them into Mississippi and Picayune did not have the proper permits from Picayune and Mississippi.

He said the tires are a threat to the health and safety of the historic Goodyear Community. The tires are on property that once held a grocery store named Neal’s Grocery and an old-time honky-tonk named the “Silver Moon.”

Janet said the tire site is also near a federally funded neighborhood playground.

Efforts to contact DEQ officials were unsuccessful by press time.