Millions and millions of tyres

Wednesday, 16th July 2008 by

Within the Sonoran Desert National Monument, Arizona, is one of the largest stockpiles of discarded vehicle tyres1 in the US – perhaps as many as 10 million individual tyres.

Despite being just south of a town called Goodyear, this is actually the work of a company called Envirotech Industries International, who have been collecting tyres here for the last 10 years.

The company used to recycle the tyres, and intended to start converting the old tyres into fuel – until the state of Arizona closed them down for multiple serious fire-code violations. Envirotech subsequently went bankrupt, leaving the State of Arizona responsible for the facility.

The imagery at Microsoft’s Live service has better resolution, allowing us to see individual tyres that have fallen from the huge piles (one of the breaches of the fire regulations was “Obstructed fire roads”).

If a fire were to break out here, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office have stated that it could “burn unhindered for over ten years”. To put that into perspective, in 1999 it took 250 firefighters 5 days to get a fire at a facility in Ohio under control – and it took a further nine years and more than $32 million to clean up the mess.

There are an estimated 3 billion waste tires stockpiled in the United States, and when they catch fire the environmental fallout can be catastrophic. Government reports stated that the pollution from the 1999 Ohio fire killed more than 10,000 fish in a nearby creek.

The Sonoran Desert National Monument is a small part of the 311,000 km² Sonoran Desert – home to several endangered species, and the most biologically diverse of all the North American deserts.

Read the full story at

Thanks to kjfitz.

  1. Or “tires” as they’re known in the States.