Less than a month after a potentially hazardous fire erupted at a tire recycling plant on Indian land in the Coachella Valley, federal environmental regulators have ordered the company, Consolidated Tire Recyclers, to clean up its act.
Under the order, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the plant must remove stockpiles of rubber tires that pose a fire risk.
The plant, located in the town of Mecca within the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians Reservation, pulverizes enormous quantities of tires and sells the crumb rubber as fuel to a power generation plant.
This was not, however, the first time this plant had been targeted for its risky behavior.
Earlier this year, the EPA and the Tribe discovered about 90,000 tires at the plant that posed an imminent risk of catching fire.
On May 17, a fire did break out at the facility. Luckily, no one was hurt, but tire fires produce thick black smoke containing carcinogens as well as containments including lead and arsenic, meaning it can harm people if they breathe it and can pollute water supplies.
Nine days later, the Tribe issued the tire recycling plant a Notice of Violation and official order to manage its rubber tires better.
This latest action by the EPA places the weight of the federal government smack on top of the company.
“A large tire fire could pose a serious public health threat,” said Jared Blumenfeld, Regional Administrator for the EPA's Pacific Southwest region. “To protect the local community, including children attending nearby schools, EPA and the Tribe have taken steps to eliminate the risk of fire.”
The plant faces a fine of $7,500 a day should its owners not comply with the order.