Island Recycling Inc. could cease tire-shredding operations at its Sand Island yard after a blaze there Friday that took about 24 hours to extinguish. A company spokesman said the fire was caused by a piece of scrap metal caught in a tire shredder.

Recycler might quit
tire shredding

Metal caught in a shredder is
blamed for an Island Recycling fire

A Sand Island recycling company might cease its tire-shredding operations after a massive fire at its yard four days ago.

"It's a risk. If we have to continue with this type of operation, would it cause another fire?" said Jim Nutter of Island Recycling Inc. "It can be relatively dangerous or hazardous."

Officials at Island Recycling -- one of two tire-recycling facilities in the state -- are discussing whether to continue its tire-shredding operations, which make up 5 percent of the company's operations. The bulk of its recycling includes newspapers, cardboard, plastic, aluminum cans and glass bottles.

The company has been recycling tires for the past two years, Nutter said. An estimated 350,000 scrap tires are recycled at the yard each year.

Trucks were sent yesterday to pick up recyclable materials other than tires. Until repairs are made, the company will make do with a used baler purchased several months ago to crush the recyclables, Nutter said. The machine should be in operation in a couple of days.

The company plans to repair the other balers damaged in the fire, but the two tire shredders in the fire "are toast," Nutter said.

The blaze started a little after 5 p.m. Friday and took about 24 hours to extinguish. Fire officials are continuing to determine the origin and cause, said Capt. Kenison Tejada. Nutter, however, said the fire was caused by a piece of scrap metal caught in one of the tire shredders which sent off sparks.

Firefighters responded to a hot spot that was smoldering at the recycling yard sometime after 3 a.m. yesterday. Tejada said it was extinguished at 3:45 a.m.

Blane Yamagata, president and chief executive officer of competitor Unitek Solvent Services Inc., said he anticipates a 15 percent increase in the company's tire-recycling operations.

"Tire fires are probably one of the worst fires to deal with. ... I wouldn't wish that on anybody," Yamagata said. "That is definitely a disaster to deal with."

Unitek, the state's major tire-recycling facility, has been in operation since 1997 at Campbell Industrial Park. The company recycles 800,000 to 900,000 scrap tires a year.

"We have the majority of the market," said Yamagata, adding that tire recycling makes up 20 percent of the company's operations. "As far as handling the remainder of the volume that Island Recycling has, it won't have any major impact on us."

He added: "Our machines are made to handle more than twice the volume that we currently do. ... We possibly could handle about 2.5 million tires per year."

Unitek is also the state's largest petroleum recycler, with 80 percent of its operations concentrated on processing solvent, oil, antifreeze and oily waste water, as well as tank cleaning and oil/water separator cleaning services.

Island Recycling plans to send tires to Unitek to be recycled.

Yamagata noted that the company received a few calls from isle tire companies yesterday, including Lex Brodie's Tire Co., to make arrangements for their scrap tires to be picked up.

"Slowly, the calls are starting to come in," Yamagata said. "I guess they are now realizing that it's (the fire) a bigger deal than they thought it was."

Island Recycling had picked up tires from Lex Brodie's three times a week for the past two years.

"Unfortunately, we can't do it at this point," Nutter said. "I don't blame them."


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