BERGEN COUNTY RECEIVES $158,905 TIRE ROUND UP CHECK
FROM DEP TO FIGHT WEST NILE VIRUS
Department of Environmental Protection Assistant Commissioner of Environmental
Regulation Dennis Hart today presented a $158,905 check to Bergen County
officials to help the county reduce the mosquito population as part of
a statewide effort to combat the West Nile virus.
The money is part of a $2.4 million state grant program to help counties
clean-up scrap tires which serve as excellent breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Hart presented the check to Bergen County Utilities Authority Chairman
Benedict Focarino at an abandoned tire pile site located on Paterson Plant
Road in East Rutherford.
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
laying 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."
State Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Shinn said in a prepared
statement, "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 compounds this problem. Just one tire
can serve as a breeding ground for thousands of mosquitoes."
Shinn stated Bergen County's tire clean-up plan will offer free monthly
tire amnesty days for a six-month period at three locations in addition
to the removal of illegally dumped tires from vacant lots, roadsides and
Additionally, Shinn praised county officials for establishing a number
of successful environmental initiatives including Bergen's Municipal Recycling
Assistance Program for recycling and waste reduction, and telephone hotline
numbers for the West Nile virus and computer recycling. Shinn stated that
Bergen's computer and electronics recycling program has gone a long way
in preventing toxic materials and heavy materials found in the computers
from ending up in a landfill and hurting the environment.
"Through this initiative, Bergen County officials and residents are extending
the life of existing landfills, conserving energy and maybe most importantly,
reducing greenhouse gas emissions," he stated. "I was also pleased to
learn that Bergen County recycled more than a million tons of material
including tires, wood, metal, paper, bottles and cans in 1999," said Shinn.
"This is a step in the right direction in preserving natural resources
for future generations."
Bergen County has won four awards from the Association of Environmental
Authorities for public education and household hazardous waste management.
Bergen County is the fourth to receive a tire round up grant for scrap
tire collection. The funding is based on the Clean Communities Program
formula for road miles since abandoned tires are a form of litter. Bergen
has 445 road miles which entitles it to a 6.62% of the funding.
According to Shinn, the county's tire round-up grant represents just
one aspect of the state's tire clean-up program. DEP, he says, 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 in February. 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 the 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.
Shinn reaffirmed the department's commitment not only to the tire round
up program but also to recycling in general throughout the state.
"We must work together to find ways to provide long-term support for
New Jersey's recycling community. We must all step up our efforts to encourage
the purchase of recycled products at home, at work, and in schools and
find ways to financially sustain recycling now and in the future."