THE 180,000 tyres that have been illegally dumped in the Ipswich region could lead to "a catastrophic fire event".
That is the warning from Dave West, the national director of the Boomerang Alliance, who said there were "80,000 tyres at least at Haigslea and 100,000 at Kholo" that had been dumped by a rogue tyre scrap business operating out of Loganholme.
Boomerang Alliance, the peak body for the environment movement on waste and recycling, has been monitoring the activities of the business at sites in Lake Manchester Rd, Kholo and at Haigslea Cemetery Rd, Haigslea for the past six months.
Cr Paul Tully, council's planning chairman, was briefed late last week about the issue and council has taken swift action over the Haigslea tyre dump.
"The operator has been fined $60,000 by Ipswich City Council," Cr Tully said.
"This includes fines for illegal tyre and asbestos storage on site.
"Further legal action, including a court injunction against the operator, is being considered by the council."
Mr West said tyres should be stored "away from ignition sources" but said there were empty containers of flammable liquids, timber and leaf litter at the Haigslea site that made it especially vulnerable.
"A tyre recycling facility holding 100,000 tyres probably needs $2 million worth of site works to render it safe," he said.
"Tyres need specific infrastructure to deal with them because...once they are on fire they are almost impossible to put out.
"In fact, there is a pile in Wales that burnt for 17 years.
"That is the extreme, but if the pile (in Haigslea) catches fire it will burn for weeks.
"Every tyre releases as much as seven litres of oil.
"If that site goes up it is an Exxon Valdez level pollution event, over and above damage done by the fire with big black toxic clouds of smoke and houses next door.
"We attended a fire in Sydney last year that involved 10,000 tyres and required 500 firies to attend.
"With bushfire season coming, it is a real concern."
Mr West said the site at Kholo was "an even bigger fire threat than Haigslea".
"If it was to go up it would be a catastrophic fire event. You would be talking about people having to move out of their homes," he said.
"It is in the middle of bushfire zone so it will take out a big part of the Lake Manchester conservation zone. The water catchment around there is part of Brisbane's drinking water so you are going to have issues around contamination."
Mr West said his organisation was "wrapped with the good work that Ipswich City Council is doing to get this under control".
Cr Tully said the tyre pile in Ipswich was among "the largest and worst illegal tyre dumps ever located in Queensland".
"It breaches the town planning scheme, using the property for unlawful purposes without planning approval."
Cr Tully said "major environmental vandals deserve to be jailed for their actions" due to the repercussions that could result from their actions.