Applewhite, tires, and a problem that needs fixin’

A small tire pile located at San Antonio's Applewhite Site in June.
(A small tire pile located at San Antonio’s 29-acre Applewhite Site in June.)

San Antonio’s Applewhite Safe Tire Facility, an unauthorized scrap tire site, currently contains over 2.3 million tires which have become home to swarms of mosquitoes, rodents, and (at times) feral hogs. This site, which is the second largest unauthorized scrap tire pile in Texas, is only a few miles away from a school and residential areas, making it a health-hazard for all the people living near it.

The mosquitoes that swarm the site are a danger in and of themselves due to the potential risk of them carrying Zika and West Nile virus. Along with the issue of mosquitoes, the tire site is a ticking time-bomb due to the fact that it has the potential to catch on fire.

John Lujan, a retired firefighter and the Texas Representative for the district which contains the tire site, said he remembers putting out a small fire on that property years ago. After Texas Heritage Protection brought the site to his attention again, Lujan has decided to take on the issue and try to get it cleaned up for good.

Local officials estimate that if the site were to catch on fire, the pile would burn for nine months — all the while releasing thick, black smoke containing toxic chemicals to surrounding areas. Tire fires are notoriously difficult and costly to extinguish. Often, water alone isn’t enough and officials use chemicals to aid in extinguishing tire fires. These chemicals can lead to further pollution if they were to leak into groundwater.

(A recent tire fire in Madrid, Spain)
(A recent tire fire in Madrid, Spain. Tire pile was estimated at 5 million.)

In true Republican style, Lujan not only remains committed getting Applewhite cleaned up, but also is pushing for funding for cleanup to be drawn from existing sources. For state taxpayers, this means no new taxes. Lujan is simply putting pressure on state agencies to do the job they were assigned to do!

However, we need YOUR help. The easiest way of cleaning up this site, through an existing fund source, has a September deadline. Please, email or call us to see how you can get involved, or tell us that you care.

Thankfully, Lujan is also committed to fixing the systemic problem that led to this tire pile’s formation in the first place. He and other lawmakers are already brainstorming ways to increase state government efficiency around the issue through legislation.

For another take on the issue, read the San Antonio Express News article.