Tire landfill again proposed in Paradise Valley

Johnathan Hettinger
Thursday, May 9, 2019
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A proposal for a tire dump and recycling facility in Paradise Valley is back.

On Wednesday, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality announced the department is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement for an 11.7-acre tire landfill owned by Michael and Magdalena Adkins, 1.75 miles north of Pray along East River Road. The facility would have two phases, with a total tire waste capacity of 280,000 tons and an estimated operating life of 20 years.

The Adkins proposed a similar facility earlier this decade, and DEQ issued a license to Adkins. However, the project was halted by Judge Brenda Gilbert’s 2013 ruling that DEQ must redo its environmental assessment because it had failed to address many environmental concerns with the project. 

This time around, DEQ is conducting an Environmental Impact Statement, a more in-depth document. DEQ started the scoping period Wednesday and will end the period June 6. An open house and public scoping meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. May 28 at the Livingston Civic Center. DEQ will have an open house from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and a presentation from DEQ will take place at 7 p.m. and the public will have an opportunity to provide oral or written testimony.

When reached by The Enterprise on Thursday morning, Michael Adkins said he does not want to comment on the proposal, other than it is the same proposal as earlier this decade and he is not burning tires, as he said many locals have mischaracterized his proposal in the past. 

Adkins told The Enterprise in 2014 that his goal is to recycle rubber from tires into rubber that can be reused for roads and other paths, and he only needs capacity to store tires temporarily. No one would probably ever see a tire buried in the pit, Adkins said in 2014, but he needs an address and a pit facility where they can be delivered. 

In 2014, Adkins said his recycling facility and dump would employ 22 people earning $40,000 a year and bring economic development to the area. He estimates there would only be five trips a day to his property. Adkins said he’s not digging a new or deeper pit, but was going to fill a pit that already exists on his property and is 40 feet above the high water level in the Yellowstone River. At the time, he said he and his family received telephone-call threats during the process of trying to obtain the permit.

County Planning Director Mike Inman and County Commission Chairman Steve Caldwell said they don’t believe Adkins requires any permits from the county.

In 2012, Protecting Paradise, a group of landowners in Paradise Valley, sued DEQ over the project. The lawsuit resulted in Gilbert’s ruling that made DEQ go back to the table on the environmental assessment.

Tony Eaton, one of the members of Protecting Paradise, said he was surprised to hear the project was back. 

“We thought it was dead and buried, but like a zombie it has come back to life courtesy of DEQ,” Eaton said.

Eaton said DEQ should not allow a “tire dump in the middle of one of the most beautiful valleys in Montana.” Eaton said DEQ will likely approve the project no matter what the public says at scoping meetings.

Frank Schroeder, a member of the group, said there was nothing redeeming about the facility last time, and the group will take a look at everything and react accordingly.

 Scoping comments must be received by June 6, 2019. Written comments should be submitted to Jen Lane, DEQ Director’s Office, PO Box 200901, Helena, MT 59620-0901. Comments may be emailed to AdkinsMonofillEIS@mt.gov.