The end is near for one of the biggest environmental nightmares in Texas.
Work has just started at an abandoned south San Antonio tire dump, offering new hope for an old problem.
Men and machines are already moving at what was the Safe Tire Disposal site in the 11300 block of Applewhite Road.
When the company experienced a blow-out years ago, more than one million tires were left to rot. One contractor said he believes it may take more than 1,300 big rigs to haul the mess away.
"That thing is humongous," said State Representative Tomas Uresti, who just brokered a deal to solve the problem.
“Of course, filled with mosquitoes. It's a horrible sight for one, not to mention the chance of us picking up the Zika virus again and it's disastrous and it needs to go immediately,” Uresti said.
“We got the city. We got the county. We got TCEQ from the state. We got Copart, all the stakeholders came together in one room and I brought everybody together and we talked about how's the fastest way to get this thing moving,” Uresti said.
Uresti said once all the parties could see eye to eye, they came up with an agreement and the property got sold to Copart, an international auto auction firm with a facility right next door. He said they have a good reputation as an industry leader.
“Copart is a worldwide company. They're not like most wrecking and salvage yards where they take parts off a car and sell one piece at a time. They take the entire vehicle. They're like a distribution center. They take the entire vehicle and ship it somewhere else so they know what they're doing and it's going to be very good to have them here.” Uresti said.
The first part of the deal involved Copart paying back taxes on the land, money owed by the previous owner who left the disaster behind.
“We collected $400,000 in back taxes from Copart as a start,” Uresti said, adding that the company now has 300 days to completely clear out all the tires.
He expects they will grow their business, add more jobs and pay more taxes.
As for the tires, some will go to landfills, some will be used as fuel for heavy industry and some may be turned into pavement.
“Everybody is as happy as they could possibly be because this is great,” Uresti said.
Uresti said he considers this deal a late Christmas gift to Bexar County.
“Credit goes to Copart. Credit goes to our city, our county, my staff for working so hard on this. We can give credit to Santa Claus. It doesn't matter who gets the credit as long as the tires are gone the neighborhood is going to look better and we'll be rid of all the mosquitoes at the same time,” Uresti said.
A small work force is already preparing the 36-acre site to make it safer for the crews who will do the heavy lifting.
The hauling of tires should begin in earnest within the next few weeks.
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