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Regulation of Open Burning

posted on Tue, Jun 23 2015 5:02 pm by The Network

“Open burning,” the practice of burning refuse – often trash, leaves, or scrap wood – in the open air, is a common method of disposal but can have serious consequences for environmental safety and the public’s health. The Network was contacted by an Indiana county health officer to provide information on open burning bans in other jurisdictions, or model laws about open burning bans.

The Network researched open burning ordinances and model laws and provided the requester with a number of resources:

  • Indiana’s open burning regulations allow the burning of vegetation from farms, orchards, cemeteries, and other similar venues; but requires the open burner to acquire a permit or authorization from local authorities. Open burns of some petroleum products can also be performed as part of railroad maintenance and repair. However, open burns must be conducted under favorable weather conditions and must be attended at all times, in addition to other regulatory requirements to ensure safety.
  • The Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s website outlines rules and regulations about open burning, and provides links to existing city ordinances as well as a sample ordinance.
  • The trash burning ordinance in Spencer County, Indiana, specifically prohibits the open burning of household trash and wood products that are painted, varnished, or stained. The ordinance also provides guidance on the size of open burns. For example, brush piles of more than 125 cubic feet can only be burned after Spencer County Dispatch has been notified.
  • The Outdoor Burning Model Ordinance Guide published by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, contains guidance for municipalities looking to craft their own open burning regulations.
  • The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources provides this model ordinance for outdoor and open burning.

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