Efforts are finally underway to clean up a West Knoxville eyesore. An enormous pile of used shingles has covered a piece of property on Lexington Drive, near Lovell Road, for almost a year-and-a-half, but crews started working Monday on the removal process.
In December, 2011 a company called "Greehphalt Recycling" told 10News they planned to process the shingles into a material that can be mixed with asphalt for paving. Instead, they skipped town with thousands of dollars in dump fees and left a big mess behind.
Property owner, Sam Furrow, worked with the City of Knoxville to find a solution to clean up the mess. Furrow has contracted with Mark Hinton, who has run a shingle recycling business in Louisville, Kentucky, for the past 12 years, to do what "Greenphalt Recycling" initially told its customers.
"The uncommon thing is when people do this and then they abandon this," Hinton explained.
Instead of sending the old shingles to the dump, where Hinton said they won't decompose, he wants what's within them,"This is a valuable resource and it can be reused and it should be. You get the granule, which is an aggregate, and you get the oil content."
A two-man crew sorts through the shingles, throwing out trash, and recycling other items. Hinton explained that they will "hand touch" everything in the lot. A second crew will start the next part of the recycling process in about a month.
"They'll actually start processing the material through the grinder, and then grind it down to what's called a "three-eighths" minus," Hinton said.
He plans to sell the pulverized asphalt shingles to asphalt producers around the region.
"It actually makes a better road surface. It adds more elasticity to the mix," Hinton explained.
A TDOT spokesperson says it is looking into possibly using shingles in its asphalt in the future. The City of Knoxville already has plans, according to Director of Engineering, Jim Hagerman.
For now, Hinton's crew has a lot of work on its hands. He says the amount "Greenphalt Recycling" collected at the site in the three months after the April 27, 2011, storms typically takes about five years to amass.
"There's 28,000 cubic yards of material here," Hinton said.
For perspective, the amount would cover 13.5 football fields at one foot thick.
"By the end of this year, the site will be level and clear as if nothing was here," Hinton said, referring to the deadline he and Furrow have agreed to with the city.
Hinton said when this job is done, he plans on working with the City of Knoxville and with Knox County to find a permanent home for Knoxville Shingle Recycling, which would be open to roofers. He expects it to be up and running by early 2014.