Director's report May 2017

I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Margaret Atkinson (see Vale Margaret Atkinson by Janice Bird).

I worked in the TCT office with her for five years while she was our office manager. Margaret was very tough on us all about paying bills and providing reports on time. There were many scientists who received funding through grants the TCT administered who can attest to her valued discipline in this area. I fondly remember Margaret assisting several times with tree-planting and gorse-cutting events that I organised at the South Esk Pine reserve near Coles Bay. After one such event I saw a much more relaxed side of her – after a few wines! We will miss you, Margaret.

As well as being our office manager in the 1990's, Margaret worked for the TCT during the late 1980's on recycling. She would have loved that the TCT was working on car-tyre recycling and that we were willing to get our hands dirty to do it. 

The TCT recently completed its third used-car tyre clean-up, at Forcett, just outside of Sorell. We collected, cleaned and sent for recycling 830 tyres. Barwicks collected the tyres and shredded them at Brighton. They will be sent to Melbourne to be recycled by Tyrecycle, whose sponsorship paid for the cost of recycling and the materials used. 

We have a small amount of sponsorship for this project and must direct it to the most important sites. The owner of the property at Forcett runs Chris Green Horse Rescue and she was concerned about the tyres being a fire hazard and harbouring snakes.  We thought she was deserving of help. It was also a highly visible site. 

When left outside for lengthy periods, tyres collect dirt, weed seeds, spiders and other invertebrates. These are a biosecurity risk and have to be removed before we send the tyres to Melbourne. So every single tyre had to be cleaned inside, by hand, with water and brushes.

It was very difficult finding volunteers for this project and without the assistance of the local Green Army team it would not have been possible. We thank Green Army and the Australian Conservation Volunteers, who manages them. Projects such as this will suffer when the funding for this program stops, later this year.

We use these clean-up events to promote the hazards associated with storing or using large quantities of car tyres and to encourage people to recycle them instead. The key message we wanted to convey with this event is that they pose a significant fire hazard. We are especially trying to get this message to horse owners and equestrian centres, quite a lot of whom use old car tyres for jumps and as fences. We hope to encourage them to clean up their tyres, and to discourage their use in the first place.

If the tyres at this property had burnt, it would have been roughly the equivalent of burning 6000 litres of diesel. If the fire service tried to extinguish such a fire, it would create a contaminated slurry that could flow 250m into China Creek and then into Pittwater Lagoon.

Dumped or inappropriately stockpiled used-car tyres can be reported anonymously

Peter McGlone - TCT Director

The photo at the top of this article is of Peter McGlone and Green Army Workers at tyre clean-up at Forcett, March 2017. Photo by Heather Cassidy