Md. approval of company's plan to store combustible tire chips upsets residents

July 02, 1996|By Joe Mathews | Joe Mathews,SUN STAFF

Seven years ago, Norman Emanuel's mountain of shredded tires off Patapsco Avenue caught fire, and Cherry Hill residents -- some only a few hundred feet away -- saw it, breathed it and, most memorable of all, smelled it.

Now, without informing the neighborhood, the Maryland Department of the Environment has given Emanuel approval to store combustible tire chips -- albeit temporarily -- at the same property, 598 W. Patapsco Ave.

But the MDE's approval of the chip storage came without the customary community meeting on the subject, and 6th District Councilman Melvin Stukes is demanding that the department rescind its approval until a meeting is held.

"It was an oversight," MDE spokesman Quentin Banks said of the agency's inability to schedule a community meeting. He said officials had relied on an incomplete list of affected communities from the city's Health Department.

Stukes, a Cherry Hill resident, said he first learned about the proposal while attending a community meeting in Brooklyn, about a mile east of the site. Several Cherry Hill residences are much closer.

"We will do everything within our power, including a human fence, so that it won't happen," Stukes said.

About 20,800 tons of chips, or shredded pieces of tires, will be used to design and build a drainage cap at a Garrett County landfill; the chips can be stored at the Patapsco Avenue site for up to 90 days, Banks said.

Emanuel Tire is working out final details in a contract with Maryland Environmental Service, a quasi-public group, to provide the chips.

In an interview last month, Emanuel criticized city officials for meddling in the operations of his business. He did not return a phone call yesterday.

Emanuel Tire collects old tires, selling some back to tire companies and shredding the rest. The shredded tires can be used in pavement, running tracks, floor mats and roofing.

Emanuel says the Fire Department could have contained the 1989 fire earlier, but chose not to. In that case, a 150-by-300-foot pile of rubber, 15 feet high, burned for days. Fire officials who were at the scene said they did the best they could, given the compact nature of the tire pile.

MDE officials said they are confident that a fire will not occur again. Emanuel has submitted a written plan showing the six, 75-by-75-foot storage piles where the chips will be kept. In November, the Baltimore Fire Department granted Emanuel a renewal of his fire prevention permit.

Pub Date: 7/02/96

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