Thousands of cars pass by each day the fenced-in, now-defunct El Capitan mobile home park on Bonanza Road near Nellis Boulevard, and probably no one realized what was behind that temporary fence. In fact, until this past week, there was a massive illegal tire dump so large, numbering some 2,000 discarded tires, that it could clearly be seen from satellite photo imagery on Google Earth. (see link below)
Two weeks ago, returning home by way of Bonanza, in front of me sat a fire engine from Station 16 and an ambulance parked at the entrance of the former mobile home park – and the temporary fence was down. Presumably there had been a health concern with one of the resident homeless individuals. And there it was. Past the old clubhouse that served as a homeless cabin of sorts, were rows and rows of dumped tires, some sorted, some piled six feet tall – all illegally dumped in our neighborhood.
Nevada state law, under NRS 444A, requires that all tires be properly disposed ofby each county and not placed in a dump. In fact, each tire customer at legitimate tire businesses in Nevada pays a disposal surcharge up front. In turn, each tire business pays a fee to have those tires properly disposed of by an entity that will essentially recycle into running paths, playgrounds, parks, et al., and not place a hazardous material, a tire, that won’t break down for decades, into city landfills. Some of the hazards associated with waste tires are the high potential for fires that spew toxic chemicals in the air and are difficult to extinguish on a large scale. Other hazards include breeding ground for mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus.
The entity that is charged with enforcing the State provision within Clark County and selecting adequate disposal alternative for discarded tires is the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD). According to the list at SNHD, only Phoenix Recycling Technologies and Lunas Construction Cleanup, can recycle.
To report possible violations, call 799-0600. To learn more about the SNHD and how it handles tire waste, visit http://www.cchd.org/solid-waste/waste-tire-regs.php.
But that is not where the story starts or ends. Several important questions remain. Who dumped the tires? Will the tires be properly disposed of? Will anyone be held accountable?
I reported the violation to SNHD the following day, #SW 11-1210, and there was no prior record of it. It had seemingly escaped the attention of thousands of surrounding people for several months if not years. I was provided the contact information for the investigating officer and e-mailed the damning photo evidence. It was only a few days later, over the weekend, that the investigator contacted me and
we exchanged information.
In fact, the site had been spotted by a city official a few months prior and was clearly violating City of Las Vegas codes. SNHD was contacted in regard to the illegally dumped tires. But because the issue involved homeless people, I was informed that charges were highly unlikely. But that’s only half of the equation. What about the nearby llantera on Bonanza, where the tires presumably came from? It was suggested the tires were carted a few yards down from the llantera to avoid the legally required dumping fees for which the consumer had already paid.
Of note, when I took the photos I was approached by an individual who asked me not to photograph the Lunas workers. Responding in Spanish, I asked the obvious and he nodded in the affirmative.
As of the posting of this, the cleanup has concluded but the investigation has not.
To view the Google map, click on: