Senator Boxer said: "I support EPA's action today to address the serious hazards from tens of thousands of used tires at this facility, which could catch fire and threaten the health of families, children, and workers in the community of Mecca. Just last month, there was a fire at this facility, and I am pleased that EPA is taking action to protect the health and well-being of the community. I will continue to monitor this situation and the other public health risks that residents in Mecca are facing."
EPA has broad authority under federal environmental laws, including section 7003 of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which allows EPA to work rapidly with all parties to address threats to public health from dangerous pollution. According to EPA, the handling, storage and treatment of waste tires may present an imminent and substantial endangerment to area residents. Tire fires produce thick smoke that contains pollutants and toxins which are harmful to human health, and the fires can also threaten water supplies with contaminants such as lead and arsenic.
In a separate action at a nearby facility, EPA issued an order on May 9, 2011, directing Western Environmental Inc. to address air pollution at its waste recycling facility that caused several people, including children, to become ill.