A DEQ inspector found between 3,000 and 6,000 tires on about seven acres owned by Horace Shelby Bush just outside the village of Sun in northeastern St. Tammany Parish, DEQ officials said.
Bush, a resident of Sun, was booked last week in parish jail on felony and misdemeanor counts of illegal disposal of solid waste and was released Sunday, said Peter Ricca, DEQ criminal investigations manager.
Ricca said Bush does not have a permit to dispose of the tires, which can’t be reused, but also didn’t apparently collect a fee for them.
Bush was involved in a similar incident with waste tires in 1990, DEQ officials said. Despite repeated warnings to remove the tires at the time, Bush refused to do so and they eventually caught fire and burned for several weeks.
Bush disappeared in Texas after the incident and state officials were unable to find him while they were building the case, DEQ officials said.
Ricca said the 1990 tire incident is too old now for law enforcement to prosecute Bush in connection with that case.
DEQ spokesman Rodney Mallett said that Bush returned to Louisiana sometime earlier this year and began accumulating tires again.
In addition to being a fire hazard, the mass of tires is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and potentially West Nile virus, DEQ officials said.
“By failing to manage this thing correctly, we’re opening the door up for this stuff,” Ricca said, adding that tests found mosquito larvae in the tires.
Ricca said DEQ officials are trying to find out who owned the tires and tell them to take tires back. But some tires don’t have identifying tags. Ricca said he’s not sure yet what state officials will do to dispose of them.
Ricca said DEQ doesn’t have the extra cleanup dollars to pay for removal.