Abigail Pascual manages the clean up of the largest scrap tire stockpile in Maryland.
After two decades of hard work, Pascual's team was finally granted access to clean up at least 1.2 million tires that were dumped in a series of ravines in Prince George's County. Her team also encourages the reuse and recycling of scrap tires - for projects as diverse as playgrounds and roads.
Pascual is the head of the Scrap Tire Unit in the Land Management Administration. She has been at the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) for 11 years. Pascual's unit is in charge of scrap tire clean up projects, using a combination of state and private funds, that encourage the reuse and recycling of scrap tires. Approximately 5.6 million scrap tires are generated in Maryland every year, and scrap tire stockpiles can pose a threat to both public health and the environment. Her unit also keeps records on scrap tire licensing and is responsible for presenting an annual scrap tire report to the legislature.
Originally from Baltimore, Pascual attended Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. There, she studied Geology as well as Russian Language and Literature and Soviet Area Studies. Though she never intended to study Geology, the class fulfilled the science requirement. As a result, she became interested in the environment and added geology as her second major. Prior to working at MDE, Pascual worked as an environmental consultant and an environmental contractor for several years.
She says she prefers to be a regulator.
“I like making sure people do the right thing,” Pascual said of her job.
Working with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Maryland Environmental Service, and community volunteers, Pascual's program led the effort to construct ten scrap tire playgrounds in state parks across Maryland. Currently Pascual's team is refurbishing and improving these facilities.
Pascual's unit is continually seeking new ways to re-use scrap tires. For instance they are working with the Maryland Environmental Service to use rubberized asphalt made from recycled tires to improve the road in front of the Midshore II Landfill in Caroline County on the Eastern Shore. Once complete, the road will last longer, be more resistant to damage from trucks and weather, reduce noise in the community, and have better traction.
Finally, the Scrap Tire Unit has just completed a project with the University of Maryland that analyzed the potential for crumb rubber from the tires as growth media, the “soil,” in green roofs. The study generated interest throughout the United States and funding was secured to continue and expand their research into green roof growth media.
Pascual's hard work and dedication has served as a driving force in her unit's efforts. Together, the Scrap Tire Unit has helped to ensure the speedy cleanup of illegal scrap tire stockpiles and the management, collection, transportation, recycling, and processing of the scrap tires generated in Maryland.