The Saskatchewan government has approved spending up to $3.3 million to clean up the scrap tire stockpile in Assiniboia.
About 6,678 tonnes, or 14.7 million pounds, of tires and tire crumbs have been sitting on the site of the former Assiniboia Rubber Recycling plant since the plant closed in February 2014. The company went into receivership later that year.
Environment Minister Dustin Duncan said cabinet has approved a grant to Tire Stewardship of Saskatchewan, which is responsible for tire recycling, to pay for the cleanup.
TSS issued a request for proposals and will announce the successful candidate early in 2019, Duncan said.
He said fees had already been paid on the tires left on site and the cost of the cleanup will not come from the existing recycling program.
“The reason why the government had to step in with a grant is because under the former stewardship program and the regulations, there never was a requirement for a financial assurance to be put up by the processor,” Duncan said.
The owner of the plant was insolvent, so no funds are available.
That has changed, and the province now requires any company intending to recycle tires to have financial guarantees that it can clean up any legacy stockpiles.
The minister said the cleanup cost in Assiniboia will likely be less than the grant amount, but there is a contingency built in because the exact amount of material in the pile is unknown.
The original estimate was 45 million pounds, but that was revised after an inspection.
There is a smaller legacy stockpile in the Rural Municipality of Eldon, near Lashburn, for which an RFP was also held this past summer. However, no tender was awarded.
“Assiniboia was the primary concern just because of the number of tires but also some of the safety issues that it poses — the proximity to the community but also the proximity to the water supply of the community and so forth,” Duncan said.
“At some point we’ll have to look at a plan to deal with Lashburn, but we needed to take care of Assiniboia first.”
RMs have also expressed concerns about private stockpiles of discarded tires that were left when TSS replaced the previous Saskatchewan Scrap Tire Corp.
That organization had a Black Gold Rush program that collected tires from private land at no cost, even if recycling fees hadn’t been paid on all of them.
Collection took place in only 227 RMs before the program was ended, and 69 were left, mainly in the Saskatoon, Meadow Lake, Lloydminster, Regina, Moose Jaw and Weyburn areas.
A year ago, TSS chair Colin Fraser told the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities that it was working on a plan to deal with these tires.
Duncan said he expects TSS will do so.
There is only one tire processor in Saskatchewan: Shercom Industries north of Saskatoon.