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EPA says 160,000 discarded tires pose dangerous fire risk

90333 63rd Avenue, Mecca, CA
90333 63rd Avenue, Mecca, CA
Screenshot via Google Maps

The Environmental Protection Agency is fired up over a tire recycling plant in the desert.

About a year ago, federal regualors told Mecca's Consolidated Tire Recyclers that its outdoor piles of discarded tires posed a fire risk, and needed to be removed, or they could face fines of up to $7,500 per day.

The Desert Sun reports that the dangerous hazard -- originally estimated at 70,000 tires -- has now more than doubled, with operators removing only 10,000 tires since April.

The facility, located within the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians Reservation, about 140 miles southeast of Los Angeles, suffered a fire on July 4 causing $400,000 in damage to one of the buildings. 

The operation primarily sells crumb rubber as fuel to a power generation plant, according to the EPA. In a release, the agency detailed some of the potential dangers of tire fires:


Tire fires can result in toxic air pollution and in oily runoff that can contaminate the surrounding environment. Tire fires produce thick smoke that contain pollutants harmful to human health including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), benzene, styrene, phenols, and butadiene. Tire fires also threaten nearby water supplies with harmful contaminants such as lead and arsenic contained in the oily runoff.