Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (November 29, 2001) – The defendants in one of the largest illegal scrap tire disposal cases filed in Maryland have agreed to a settlement in the civil portion of the case.

Yesterday, Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge John N. Prevas signed a consent judgment between Stephen Nicholson and Tire Masters Inc. and the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) that requires the payment of a $40,000 penalty.

“This is an important settlement and a significant penalty,” said MDE Secretary Jane T. Nishida. “This consent judgment will act as a deterrent to generators of scrap tires who might attempt to avoid their responsibilities under the law.”

The order also requires Nicholson to permit MDE or its authorized representatives to obtain copies of all records, have the authority to enter the Tire Masters premises at all reasonable times for the purpose of conducting inspections, reviewing logs, invoices, receipts and/or contracts, photographs and all other documents related to the judgment.

The order comes after more than a year of investigation by the Baltimore City Department of Public Works and the Environmental Crimes Unit of the Attorney General’s Office that showed Tire Masters, located at 2100 East North Avenue, was a key contributor to illegal tire dumps located along Gay Street at the former American Brewery site and in the 4500 block of East Lombard Street.

Actions to correct Tire Masters’ illegal activities began October 16, 2000, when MDE filed a Complaint for Preliminary and Permanent Injunctive Relief and Civil Penalties against Nicholson alleging violations ranging from the collection of scrap tires without a license, the use of unlicensed haulers and the transfer of scrap tires to places other than scrap tire collection facilities or scrap tire recyclers.

Days later on Nov. 7, 2000, the court granted the department’s motion for Preliminary Injunctive Relief and ordered the defendants to immediately cease receiving and/or collecting scrap tires, immediately cease transferring scrap tires from the Tire Masters facility to scrap tire dumps other than scrap tire collection facilities or scrap tire recyclers, to use only individuals who are licensed scrap tire haulers to transport scrap tires from Tire Masters, and to maintain all records showing the destinations of all shipments of scrap tires, the names of the scrap tire haulers and the quantity of each shipment and to submit copies of the records to MDE.

On Sept. 25, 2001 and again on November 6, 2001 the court granted MDE’s requests for permanent injunctive relief and ordered the defendant liable for civil penalties for 663 days of violation. Settlement negotiations followed.

Staff Attorney Jacqueline Russell along with Assistant Attorney General Van Lear Dorsey prosecuted the civil side of the case.

On Aug. 27, 2001 Circuit Court Judge Allen Schwait sentenced Nicholson to three years supervisory probation and a five-year suspended sentence for criminal violations of state law related to the illegal tire dumping.

Scrap tires are an environmental danger because of their potential fire hazard. Once ignited tires can be hard to extinguish and emit noxious smoke . Tires are also a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes that can carry West Nile Virus and other diseases. Abandoned tires also act as shelter for snakes and other pests like rodents and ticks. And illegally dumped tires cost private property owners and taxpayers thousands of dollars annually to dispose of them properly.

MDE is responsible for regulating the storage, collection, transfer, hauling, recycling, processing and disposal of scrap tires in the State of Maryland.