Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Keep PA Beautiful: The Consequences Of Illegal Dumping Trash, Tires - Abandoned Mine Fire In Northumberland County

Illegally dumped tires may be fueling a fire located inside an abandoned mine opening south of Trevorton in Zerbe Township, Northumberland County. The underground fire is thought to have spread to a coal seam. 
Read more here.

Local officials, first responders and the PA Department of Environmental Protection are working to contain the fire by bringing in large amounts of water and potentially a specialized contractor with firefighting foam or inert gas. 

The mine has minimal access, adding another obstacle to the effort. This recent incident is reminiscent of the Centralia mine fire that started decades ago and is still burning today. 

The origin of that fire has been debated, but one hypothesis is that it also started when a trash pit fire ignited a coal seam. The whole town had to be relocated.  

Tire pile fires can be started intentionally or unintentionally, and can burn for long periods of time.  When tires burn, it creates air pollution, and the burning rubber can decompose into oil, which can pollute groundwater and surface water.   

While illegal dumping happens in both rural and urban areas, it is most likely to occur in remote and secluded places, rural areas where few people live and the roads are less traveled. 

According to the Department of Environmental Protection’s website, Pennsylvania has 12 scrap tire piles that contain 10,000 tires or more. There is no doubt that many more smaller piles exist across the state.  Read more here.

The risks that scrap tires pose are many. They not only provide a prime breeding ground for mosquitoes that transmit West Nile Virus, but when stored outside or illegally dumped, can leach toxic chemicals that contaminate soil and water causing serious harm to humans, wildlife and the environment. Scrap tires burn easily and are hard to extinguish. 

“Illegally dumped trash and tires pose an abundance of health and safety hazards. Disposing of unwanted items properly in the first place is not only more cost effective, but it reduces situations like the one we are seeing at the abandoned mine near Trevorton. Options are available. Special collections provide a convenient, affordable option for disposing items such as tires. Visit our website’s Calendar of Events for special collections near you, or contact your county’s Recycling Coordinator. We all need to be responsible for disposing our waste correctly,” said Shannon Reiter, President of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful.   

For more information on waste tires, visit DEP’s Waste Tire Program, including a link to the Waste Tire Recycling Act and a list of ongoing waste tire collection programs sponsored by counties, municipalities or county/municipal authorities.

For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful website. Click Here to become a member.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from KPB, Like them on Facebook, Follow on Twitter, Discover them on Pinterest and visit their YouTube Channel.

Also visit the Illegal Dump Free PA website for more ideas on how to clean up communities and keep them clean and KPB’s Electronics Waste website.

The 2021 Pick Up Pennsylvania Initiative will be held from March 1 through May 31.  Questions should be directed to Michelle Dunn at 1-877-772-3673 Ext. 113 or send email to:

Keep PA Beautiful helps mobilize over 100,000 volunteers a year to pick up litter, clean up illegal dumping and beautify Pennsylvania.

(Photo: WNEP - Northumberland County fire in abandoned mine opening.)


WNEP: Mine Still Burning Nearly A Week Later In Northumberland County

Related Article:

-- Volunteers Needed: Conodoguinet Creek Watershed Assn. Creek Cleanup May 15 In Cumberland County

[Posted: May 5, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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