Clarion shop fined $10K for stockpiles of junk tires

By: - June 7, 2022 2:32 pm

Hanson and Sons Tire accumulated the equivalent of thousands of car tires over several years at three sites in and near Clarion. (Photo by Madelynn Nelson/Iowa DNR)

A Clarion automotive shop illegally moved hundreds of junk tires to an employee’s acreage after being told by state regulators to dispose of them, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Hanson and Sons Tire, which first registered with the state in 2009, was the subject of an anonymous complaint in 2014 that it was storing too many discarded tires. However, a subsequent DNR investigation found that the business had about the maximum number allowable — the equivalent of about 500 car tires, a DNR administrative order said. At the time, the DNR warned the business about that limit.

Then in 2019, after the business moved its main office to another property just down the street, someone complained about an excessive number of tires at the new site. Satellite images show large numbers of tires at the new and old sites.

“They’re a tire shop, and they take in so many and then just don’t get rid of them,” said Madelynn Nelson, an environmental specialist for the DNR who investigated the matter.

The business owner, Che Hanson, did not immediately respond to a request to comment for this article.

Piles of tires that sit outside collect rainwater that can be breeding grounds for mosquitoes and also can release toxic chemicals when they are baked by the sun, Nelson said. The DNR vigorously limits such stockpiles, in part to avoid expensive cleanups when the state is eventually forced to facilitate them.

The most-recent investigation into the tire shop began after a complaint in August 2019. At the time, Hanson told the DNR that about 250 of the tires he held were intended for resale as used tires, according to a DNR order. The state requires resale tires to be stacked, organized and inventoried for easy retrieval, but Hanson’s weren’t, according to the DNR.

Still, the DNR found that the other tires Hanson didn’t plan to resell still exceeded the state limit.

Five months later, a DNR officer returned to the business and found a significant increase in the number of discarded tires on the site, and Hanson was told to dispose of them within 60 days. When the department followed up in March 2020, Hanson said the coronavirus pandemic “was preventing his vendor from disposing of the tires despite his repeated requests,” the DNR order said.

The department fielded a third complaint about Hanson’s tires in September 2021 and found that the stockpile had continued to grow. In January 2022, Hanson refused to allow a DNR officer onto his property to count the tires, but they appeared to have dwindled some, according to the DNR.

The officer learned that Hanson had taken about 200 farm tractor tires and 100 large truck tires to a rural acreage owned by one of his employees. Because of their size and weight, those tires were considered equivalent to more than 4,000 car tires, the DNR order said.

In a recent agreement with the DNR, Hanson will pay a $10,000 fine and will dispose of enough tires to reduce each stockpile to a maximum of 500 car tire equivalents within 60 days.

Nelson, the DNR officer, said Hanson plans to have the tires hauled away by the end of June.

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Jared Strong
Jared Strong

Senior reporter Jared Strong has written about Iowans and the important issues that affect them for more than 15 years, previously for the Carroll Times Herald and the Des Moines Register. His investigative work exposing police misconduct has notched several state and national awards. He is a longtime trustee of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, which fights for open records and open government. He is a lifelong Iowan and has lived mostly in rural western parts of the state.

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