Memphis group accuses city contractor of illegally dumping on property during tire redemption program

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis group accused a recycling company of illegally dumping tires on its property during a government-sponsored collection program in January.

The tires currently sit on an empty lot next to Refurban on Florida Street in South Memphis.

According to the Shelby County Assessor map, Refurban does not own the adjoining parcel holding the tires.

The group that does, Shraddha Saburi Samidha (SSS), filed a lawsuit against Refurban asking a judge to keep owner Devin James from dumping more tires on the property and for him to seek permission before entering it to dispose of the tires.

Herman Mitchell owns HGD Waste Solutions, the recycling company next door.

“I was excited about it until I saw the tires never moved," he said of the joint effort by Memphis and Shelby County.

But Mitchell said to his knowledge, Refurban generally recycles *electronics and wouldn’t have the equipment to handle tires.

"It’s hard to recycle a tire. It’s a stringent process breaking down the rubber from the metal so you have to have proper equipment to do it," Mitchell said.

A lawyer for Refurban said they planned to take the tires to Bristol, Tennessee for recycling.

He also said they had an agreement with the owners, though the paperwork was never signed.

He called the lawsuit "groundless" and said the company was targeting his client as a minority business owner.

Memphis officials released the following statement:

“In a continued effort to combat blight and illegal dumping, city residents took the initiative and removed over 50,000 tires that littered vacant lots, ditches and sidewalks in their community. The recent Tire Redemption Program successfully helped to galvanize the community around this issue, and we are pleased with the results. We are grateful to Refurban for stepping up to assist after Liberty Tire was unable to accommodate the enormous community response. Currently, the tires are stored in a safe area and not on our city streets. The private property owners are working through legal matters that do not involve the City of Memphis.”

But people who spoke with WREG disagreed with the idea that this issue does not involve the city of Memphis. "My only concern is are the tires going to be moved or are they gonna keep dumping them? I’d really like to see them moved," Mitchell said.

“I’m pretty sure the city will find something to do with it. They got to," Michael Dean said.

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