The owners of the world's largest tire dump were accused Monday by Atty. Gen. John K. Van de Kamp of creating a public nuisance that could erupt into a huge inferno.
Van de Kamp said the charges in Stanislaus County Superior Court against Edward and Mary Etta Filbin cite mosquito breeding as well as the potential fire danger.
Van de Kamp said the tires pose "an all-too-real threat to people living within a 200-mile radius," which would include San Francisco, about 70 air miles northwest, as well as Bakersfield, Sacramento, and Reno.
Van de Kamp said the owners of Ed's Tire Disposal, near Westley just southwest of Modesto, are adding several thousand tires a day to the estimated 42 million tires in the cache.
"Not long ago a tire pile in Winchester, Va., containing 8 million tires, caught fire and burned for seven months--despite all the efforts of local, state and federal fire fighters to put it out," Van de Kamp said in a statement.
The Filbins say they are collecting the tires for use in a new thermal power plant that the Oxford Energy Co. of New York has begun testing. The plant is on a hill that overlooks the tire cache, in a valley about half a mile long and up to a quarter of a mile wide, in places 100 feet deep with tires.
The suit asks that no more tires be added to the pile, and that it be reduced at a rate of at least 4 million a day until no more than 5 million remain.
It requests a drainage containment system for runoff water from any fire-fighting effort and the waste oils that a fire would produce.
Van de Kamp said wastes in the water and oil runoff from tire fires traditionally contain extremely high levels of life-threatening toxins.