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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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RELEASE: 3/8/01
CONTACT: Sharon A. Southard or Amy Collings
609-984-1795 or 609-292-2994


Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Shinn today visited Union County where he praised officials and residents for several successful recycling initiatives and presented a $58,920 check for a newly funded program-a round-up of scrap tires.

The check is part of a $2.4 million statewide grant program to help counties clean-up scrap tires which serve as excellent breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Acting Governor Donald T. DiFrancesco said, "Working together, state and local government can effectively address the serious problem of mosquito breeding grounds such as the millions of discarded tires that are currently lying dormant around the state. I applaud the work done by the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Health and Senior Services in fighting the spread of the West Nile virus, and am committed to supporting this worthwhile program."

"One of our strongest defenses in combating the West Nile virus is prevention. The reckless discarding of scrap tires on the state's roadsides, parks, vacant lots and open spaces compound this problem. Just one tire can serve as a breeding ground for thousands of mosquitoes," said Shinn.

Shinn presented the check to the Honorable Alexander Mirabella, chairperson of the Union County Board of Freeholders at the County Administration Building in Elizabeth.

Union County is the second to receive a tire-recycling grant for scrap tire collection and recycling. The funding is based on the Clean Communities Formula for road miles since abandoned tires are a form of litter. Union County has 165 road miles which entitles it to 2.45% of the funding.

Additionally, Shinn lauded Union County officials and residents for several recycling initiatives. He cited Union's household electronics program which includes televisions, computers, cathode ray tubes and modems as well as its fluorescent light bulb program as highly successful recycling programs. He said that Union County will also be reserving four days for citizens to bring electronic components to four locations.

"The success of these projects plus the new tire round up program shows that Union's residents and officials have stepped up to the plate in implementing a responsible environmental management program. They are using these initiatives to properly dispose of hazardous substances and are helping to create a healthier, cleaner, safer environment for us all," Shinn said.

According to Shinn, the county's tire recycling grant represents just one aspect of the state's tire cleanup program. DEP, he added, is working with other state agencies on a program to clean up the two dozen so-called "orphan tire dumps" around the state that have existed for 30 years.

The state unveiled its 2001 West Nile Virus plan last month. The comprehensive plan will include enhanced mosquito control activities and increased human, animal and mosquito surveillance and testing so those working to control the virus will be able to more effectively determine its intensity, geographic spread and impact. The plan also includes a public education campaign to take personal protective measures during mosquito season.

To support the expanded effort, $2.5 million has been proposed in the FY2002 budget to heighten the state's ability to track and control the virus. The state has also applied for a $2 million grant from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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