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Indiana Department of Environmental Management
Office of Land Quality
100 N. Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2241
OLQ PH: (317) 232-8941

Title: Use of Chipped Tires in Sewage Systems
Identification Number: WASTE-0058-NPD
Date Originally Effective: November 17, 2005
Dates Revised: None
Other Policies Repealed or Amended: None
Citations Affected: 329 IAC 10-3-1

Brief Description of Subject Matter:
Use of waste tire chips in on-site sewage systems.

This non-rule policy document is intended solely as guidance and does not have the effect of law or represent formal Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) decisions or final actions. This nonrule policy document shall be used in conjunction with applicable laws. It does not replace applicable laws, and if it conflicts with these laws, the laws shall control. This nonrule policy document may be put into effect by IDEM 30 days after presentation to the appropriate board. Pursuant to IC 13-14-11.5, this policy will be available for public inspection for at least 45 days prior to presentation to the appropriate board. If the nonrule policy is presented to more than one board, it will be effective 30 days after presentation to the last. IDEM will submit the policy to the Indiana Register for publication. Revisions to the policy will follow the same procedure of presentation to the board and publication.

The purpose of this nonrule policy is to approve the use of chipped tires in on-site sewage (septic) systems when such use is approved by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH).

IDEM administers environmental statutes and rules regarding waste tires which contain provisions for disposal of tires, creating funds for clean up of tire dumps, and registration requirements for processors, storers and transporters of waste tires. Approximately six million waste tires are generated each year in Indiana. IDEM estimates that there are an additional 11 million tires stockpiled in Indiana. In general, the majority of Indiana's waste tires are collected for processing, and less than 2% of the tires are reused.

While the regulations do not specifically address beneficial reuses of waste tires, 329 IAC 10-3-1(16) provides that the Commissioner may approve the use of any solid waste for legitimate purposes if it is determined that such use does not pose a threat to public health or the environment. (Traditionally, this has been done on a case by case basis. Without an approval from the Commissioner, waste tires would be fully subject to the above referenced regulations, which do not contain reuse provisions.) The

Department has determined that the use of chipped tires in septic systems is a legitimate reuse. The purpose of this document is to provide a generic one-time approval and eliminate the need for case by case approvals from IDEM for the use of chipped tires in on-site septic systems.

Chipped tires are utilized as aggregate in soil absorption fields and perimeter drains in place of more commonly used gravel or crushed stone. The use of chipped tires is not a new or experimental technology and such use is already approved in a number of states. Studies are available which support such use. Experience thus far has demonstrated to the Department's satisfaction that chipped tire aggregate is an effective and environmentally safe alternative to traditional aggregates. Uses in other states have not identified any adverse impacts on ground water and the tire chips provide more surface area for development of micro biota colonies and improved biodegradation of sewage. Some concern with heat build up from oxidation of steel belts within chipped tires can be avoided by limiting the depth of the chipped tires to ten (10) feet.

With this Non-rule Policy Document, the Commissioner is approving the use of chipped waste tires for use as aggregate in on-site sewage systems. Such use is subject to the following conditions:

  1. Chipped tires may only be used as aggregate when such use is approved by the ISDH, or approved by a local health department as authorized by ISDH.
  2. The chipped tires must be utilized in accordance with the requirements of the ISDH, including size restrictions.
  3. Leach fields constructed with chipped tires must not be more than ten (10) feet deep.
  4. Any unused chipped waste tires must be managed in accordance with the applicable solid waste rules. Unused chips may be reused at another site or disposed at a permitted municipal solid waste landfill.

Concern has been expressed that the waste tire rules would require a waste tire storage permit if waste tire chips equivalent to 1,000 waste tires, or more, are stored at either a location that was going to utilize the waste tire chips in a septic system or at a waste tire processor that makes shreds for use in septic systems. Under the rules shredded tires that are to be utilized in a septic system would be considered a transformed tire (329 IAC 15-2-12) and therefore not subject to the rule (see 329 IAC 15-1-1(b)(6)). It is important that a waste tire processor be able to demonstrate a market for the commodity in order for the shredded tires to qualify for the exemption from the rule.

IDEM encourages the reuse of waste tires rather than disposal at a landfill. The Department pursuant to 329 IAC 10-3-1-(16) on a case-by-case basis or through non-rule policy documents when generic approvals are deemed appropriate may approve other legitimate uses of waste tires not addressed here.

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