It's week two of the Iowa City Landfill fire, which first started the Saturday of Memorial Weekend, and the city of Iowa City is going to try something to accelerate the end of the fire still consuming the 7.5 acres of rubber tire layer that was part of a new cell at the landfill.
The strategy up until now had been to let the fire burn itself out, but the city looks to be trying to aid that process along. According to a city new release, the method, which actually makes the fire burn faster in order to burn out its fuel source is called: stir, burn, and cover.
In consultation with Environmental Restoration LLC out of St. Louis and Connelly Construction of Peosta, the Iowa City Fire Department will today attempt to use heavy machinery to stir the piles of burning tires that make up the landfill's drainage layer to accelerate the consumption of flammable materials. After this process of acceleration is completed, a layer of clay soil will be smothered over the layer of smoldering rubber, covering them and hopefully slowing down the burning.
Though the process starts today, it will likely take an entire week of twelve hour days to complete, according to the media release. This process will also temporary increase the size of the black cloud of smoke, and the city officials will suspend activity if it looks as if the smoke will blow over heavily populated areas.
Even if this method works, the fire is still expected to smoulder on, potentially for several, according to the release, potentially leading to temporary flare ups.
Testing so far of the smoke has revealed no unusual chemicals in the tire smoke beyond that what is generally expected. Still, just because the fire does not contain unusual chemical levels, however, does not make exposure to it harmless, especially for young children, the elderly, and people with respiratory illnesses. The Johnson County Health Department has issued the following guidelines for people who find the cloud of smoke heading their way:
Persons in the path of the smoke plume should avoid exposure to the smoke as much as possible. Persons who have respiratory, heart or other conditions which may be aggravated by smoke, pregnant women, and the young and elderly should shelter in places with outside sources of air shut off. Most home air conditioning units recirculate air from the interior and should be sufficient. Businesses and other structures which draw in outside air should close outside air sources if the smoke plume is present. Avoid outdoor activities such as exercising if the smoke plume is present. Nursing homes, day cares and other businesses which care for the elderly, very young and persons with respiratory diseases should take special care to monitor the health of clients and to minimize exposure to the smoke plume
The city of Iowa City also continues to work to collect the oil substance that comes from the melted tires and is being collected by the drainage system, according to the release.