Mill Creek Tire Dump

The Paradise Valley, where the Yellowstone River runs between the Gallatin and Absaroka mountains, is no place for a tire dump.

Michael and Magdelena Adkins are proposing to build an 11.7-acre tire dump on their property near Pray that would have the capacity to hold up to 28 million tires. Though Michael Adkins claims that the project will be a recycling facility, there is no proposal for recycling on any kind in the application.

The project is almost a decade in the making. The facility, which can receive up to 5,000 tires per day, was originally proposed in 2011 and approved by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality in 2012. In 2013, as a result of a legal challenge brought by Goetz Law Firm on behalf of Protecting Paradise, Park County District Court Judge Brenda Gilbert ruled that the approval of the facility was unlawful because the EA did not meet the required standards.

As a result of that ruling, when Adkins decided to move forward with the tire pit in 2019, the DEQ opened a scoping period for an EIS from May 8 to July 5, 2019.

The last time around, the 2012 EA acknowledged “potential direct or cumulative impacts to human health and the environment from the proposed landfill.” 

These include significant risks to water and air quality that DEQ needs to further investigate in an EIS: 

  • The facility is only 70 feet above the elevation of the Yellowstone River and would be excavated to a depth of 60 feet. 

  • The bottom of the pit would only be 15 feet above the elevation of the river and only 30-40 feet above an alluvial aquifer containing groundwater flowing in the direction of the confluence of Mill Creek and the Yellowstone River. Additionally, the soil under the pit has a “high permeability” according to the DEQ’s EA. 

  • There are 91 wells within one mile of the project, including one just 500 feet away. 

  • Tire fires are also a significant health concern, frequently requiring neighborhood evacuations and long, drawn-out fire extinguishing operations.

Though Adkins told the Enterprise it would be staffed by 22 employees making $40,000 per year, the EA said the facility would require four-to-six full time employees and two part-time employees.

The site was previously an abandoned gravel pit full of waste tires, scrap metal and junk vehicles that DEQ determined was a violated of the Solid Waste Management Act. The pit contained: 

  • 280 tons of scrap iron steel tanks and other metals; 

  • more than 1,500 waste tires;

  • 50 pieces of old construction equipment and farm equipment; 

  • 30 pieces of old farm tractors, farm equipment and construction equipment; 

  • 30 pieces of old trucks; 

  • 50 pieces of out-of-service construction trucks; 

  • 200 wrecked and out-of-service automobiles;

  • 50 tons of construction debris and mobile trailer units.