Mosquito agency misses opportunity to acquire tyre shredder
Baton Rouge Loses Out on Tyre Project Funding
Despite the Rubber Manufacturers of America claim that 100% of America’s tyres are recycled, we come across stories that repeatedly challenge the claim. This time in Louisiana’s Baton Rouge area, where the director of the parish Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control (MARC) district says he is disappointed plans have fallen through to acquire a tyre shredder that, it was hoped, would reduce abandoned tyres in blighted areas that serve as breeding pools for mosquitoes.
The city-parish missed the Sept. 1 deadline by which it had to spend some $600,000 in grant money from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to purchase the equipment.
Three days later, Diane Baum, whose environmental services company was going to operate the equipment for the city free of charge in return for the shredded tyres, pulled out of the deal, frustrated with the dysfunction and bureaucracy.
“It’s disappointing because I know people put a lot of effort in the project and worked very, very hard,” says MARC Executive Director Randy Vaeth. “This was an opportunity to have a P3 enterprise and it’s just unfortunate it didn’t work more smoothly.”
The idea for the shredder originated with MARC, which applied for the federal grant through the Louisiana Department of Health. Metro Council member Matt Watson, who is also running for mayor, became a champion of the project, on the grounds that reducing waste tyres could help eliminate blight. He brought in Baum, who saw the deal as a way to source waste tyres material for recycling.
But when the contract went to the Metro Council earlier this year, Council member Chauna Banks objected to housing the shredder on MARC property near the Baton Rouge Airport, citing concerns about environmental racism.
Two other potential locations identified by the mayor’s office were deemed unsuitable for one reason or another. Finally, in August, Baum found a site that appeared to be ideal and agreed to purchase it herself. But before all the parties could sign off on the deal, the Sept. 1 deadline to spend the money had come and gone.
Baum is planning to move forward with acquiring the property and buying her own shredder anyway, Vaeth says.
“She’s willing to work with us on a sort of proof of concept, where we could still go out, monitor the mosquito population in an area of waste tyres and after her people have picked up the tyres we’ll go back out and monitor the area.” he says.
Source: Greater Baton Rouge Business Report