Neighbors say the tire problem had been building - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Neighbors say the tire problem had been building

By Molly Reuter - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

HAWKINS, TX (KLTV) - The TCEQ says it started getting complaints about tires in September of 2006. The agency immediately started investigating and learned the tires were being dumped there by a company called Foster and Sons Tire Scrap Service. The TCEQ said the company did not register with the state, and even after several complaints from the community and a court order, the TCEQ says the company refuses to clean up the mess.

"They are very hazardous, mosquitoes, and I'm thinking they have all kinds of rodents over there now," said Mary Morgan.

Morgan grew up in a south Hawkins neighborhood. She's never had any complaints until four years ago when she says tires began piling up just yards away.

"One pile after the other," said Morgan. "Am I glad the fire came? Yes, I will be honest with you there. Maybe this will get some action done here in Hawkins."

The City of Hawkins says Foster and Sons began its tire scrap service about four years ago at a location in downtown Hawkins. Shortly after, the city says the owner Robert Foster purchased land in south Hawkins. That's when the TCEQ says the complaints started coming in.

"We originally investigated this facility back in 2006, and at that time we learned that the site was not authorized, and that it was not registered with the TCEQ," explained Lisa Wheeler of TCEQ. "A notice of enforcement was issued at that time, and we attempted to work with the company to remove the tires and get them in compliance, and that was not successful."

The TCEQ then turned the case over to the attorney general's office. In December of 2008 the attorney general issued a final judgment against Mr. Foster and his co-owners Charles and Teresa Porter. According to court documents, they were fined nearly $340,000 and given 180 days to remove all of the tires, except for 500 tires on the ground, or 2,000 tire stored in locked containers. But still, the TCEQ says the tires remained.

Just last week the TCEQ says it asked the attorney general's office to seek contempt against the company.

"We have done legally everything possible to get these tires removed," said Wheeler.

Edward and Devin Lee who live nearby say they just hope the mess gets cleaned up sooner than later.

"My son yesterday, he came in and he said, 'Momma, why am I itching,'" said Devin Lee. "My 5-year-old son and the mosquitoes we pretty much bathe them in off and nothing helps.

"I hate it, but I'm glad," said Lee. "I really am. I just wish it would have burned them all up."

The only question now is, if the company does not clean up the tires...who will?

The TCEQ has hired a special contractor to clean up the charred tires, but the agency says it does not have the money to clean up the rest of the tires.

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