Debris: A Burning Issue in Disaster Recovery

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Release date: 
March 8, 2001
Release Number: 

Tupelo, MS -- The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the state Department of Environmental Quality issued guidelines Thursday (March 8) on disposing of debris generated by the February tornados.

Officials said private citizens planning debris burning must obtain city permits, or if they are county residents, verbal permission from the Mississippi Forestry Commission. Units of government need to contact the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for burn permits.

Those who plan to dispose of debris at dumps or landfills must comply with strict regulations prohibiting certain materials. While wood, concrete, plastic, brick and asphalt are acceptable, household garbage, tires, paints, batteries, medical waste and asbestos are among prohibited items.

Regulations for burning require inspection for compliance with environmental concerns, such as separation from schools and hospitals. Governments are required to send a written statement to DEQ to the effect that an emergency exists requiring temporary disposal sites for storm debris, including an estimated date for completing the burn.

Persons who sustained property damage in the storms are urged not to burn on their property. "Collect the debris, place it on the public right--of--way, and be patient while the city or county makes its rounds to pick up," said Leon Schaifer, state coordinating officer for MEMA.

Air regulations must be considered when selecting and using a burn site. Proposed sites that do not meet these requirements cannot be approved

Open burning without a forced draft (air curtain burner and/or industrial fan) air system must not occur within 500 yards of an occupied dwelling Open burning using a forced--draft air system must not occur within 50 yards of an occupied dwelling Open burning must not occur within 500 yards of commercial or private airport property or any area associated with airport flight operations

Cities and counties should coordinate with the local fire department officials in further selecting burn sites.

To request a temporary authorization, the city or county official should submit a written request to the Department of Environmental Quality, which states the following:

  • That an emergency situation exists within that specific jurisdiction
  • That the situation requires temporary disposal sites
  • The request should include a site map and directions which identify the temporary disposal location
  • The request should include an estimate of the time necessary to complete all clean--up operations, including but not limited to collection and final disposition

Class I Rubbish Disposal Sites

Acceptable Wastes

  • Construction and demolition debris, such as wood, metal, etc.
  • Brick, mortar, concrete, stone and asphalt
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Natural vegetation, such as tree limbs, stumps and leaves
  • Appliances which have had motors removed, except for refrigerators
  • Furniture
  • Plastic, glass, crockery and metal, except for containers
  • Sawdust, wood shavings and wood chips

Prohibited Wastes

  • Any waste listed above contaminated by a possible pollutant, such as food or chemical
  • Household garbage
  • Food or drink waste
  • Industrial waste, unless specifically approved by the Office of Pollution Control (OPC)
  • Liquids
  • Sludges
  • Contam...
Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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