NEW BEDFORD — A New Bedford tire recycling facility that has seen multiple fires and workplace violations in recent years is being fined $16,000 by the state's department of environmental protection.

City officials said Bob's Tire on Brook Street in the North End is also undergoing regular inspections from the New Bedford Fire Department, following a massive fire at the facility on July 7 that blanketed the neighboring residential area in heavy black smoke. 

Bob's Tire had previously been fined more than $35,000 by OSHA in June 2020 for workplace health and safety violations, including exposing employees to multiple potential "struck by" or "crushed by" hazards.

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MassDEP Order and Penalty

On Sept. 20, MassDEP issued a notice of noncompliance with a penalty to Bob’s Tire owner Robert Bates for conditions at the site that do not comply with state regulations, including those involving hazardous waste, asbestos, solid waste, and fire safety.

State regulators said after multiple inspections, authorities found large piles of tires with no covering and water runoff with elevated levels of zinc leading into drains, among other violations.

According to best management practices, no large accumulations of tires or shredded tires on site can exceed the amount that can be processed in 24 hours, MassDEP wrote in the notice.

Bob's Tire was issued a fine of more than $16,000 — but the state department said $5,000 of the total will be suspended pending completion of all requirements outlined in the order.

These include performing an asbestos survey, registering as a generator of hazardous waste with the EPA, listing all outlets that take the facility's solid waste output and completing a full operations plan, and implementing best management practices.

The facility must also develop and submit a fire control and safety plan.

New Bedford Issues New Requirements

City officials said as a result of the July 7 fire, New Bedford's fire department is now requiring tire recycling businesses to obtain a permit for verifying that they comply with state fire rules.

The department is also conducting monthly inspections.

Bob's Tire has also been hit with several hundred dollars in city fines following three nuisance violations in the past four months issued by the New Bedford Department of Facilities, officials noted.

Building inspectors are also awaiting a report from an independent engineer on the processing building's structural integrity to determine if the structure must be demolished.

Scrutiny for City Tire Facilities

City officials said another tire recycler, F&B Rubber on Washington Street, has also been issued correction orders.

The orders and penalties come after the city requested state environmental regulators scrutinize local tire recycling plants, officials said.

Mayor Jon Mitchell commented, “These facilities detract from the surrounding neighborhoods, and they have regularly shirked the obligations to comply with multiple city and state code protections, and have only done so when inspections have exposed their shortcomings."

"I have long directed city departments to prioritize these locations for code enforcement and have advocated for a more proactive state response," he added.

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