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Burning, regulations, questions addressed

OREGON – In the spring and fall, the number of citizen complaints made to fire departments and law enforcement agencies regarding the open burning of waste increases dramatically.

Many people clean up their homes and properties. Some choose to do so by burning the waste.

Open burning of waste generally is prohibited in the state of Illinois under Section 9(c) of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act.

The end of Section 9 of the Act states that the section shall not limit the burning of landscape waste on the property where it was generated, or the burning of landscape waste at sites provided and supervised by any unit of local government located in a county with a population less than 400,000.

However, municipalities may further regulate or restrict open burning in their jurisdictions.

Open burning is prohibited except for the following:

■ Agricultural waste, domicile waste, and landscape waste.

■ Setting fires to combat or limit existing fires (i.e. wildfires).

■ Burning fuel for legitimate campfire, recreational, and cooking purposes, or in domestic fireplaces.

■ Burning waste gases, such as in refinery flares.

■ Small open flames for heating tar, and welding.

The conditions which must be met to allow open burning of agricultural, domicile, and landscape waste are:

■ The waste must be generated on the premises (i.e. cannot be hauled in from elsewhere).

■ Atmospheric conditions at the time of burning must readily dissipate the smoke.

■ The burning cannot take place in restricted areas or municipalities with burning bans.

■ The burning must not create a visibility hazard on roadways, railroad tracks andor airfields.

■ The burning must not cause air pollution.

Open burning of landscape waste on the property where it was generated in unincorporated areas is not a violation of state law, as long as all previously-described conditions are met, and the burning is done at least 50 feet from the nearest residence.

Common sense must also be used. Don’t leave a fire unattended, don’t let the fire smolder, don’t burn when your neighbors are having a picnic or hanging laundry out to dry, and be mindful of downwind areas where smoke will travel. Keep a hose or fire extinguisher near the fire to prevent it from spreading.

The open burning of domicile waste (refuse generated on single family domiciliary property as a result of domiciliary activities) such as paper or cardboard, on the property where it was generated, may not be a violation until someone complains about it. At that point, it may be considered air pollution and may be subject to enforcement.

Under no circumstance is “garbage” (“refuse derived from handling, processing, preparation, cooking, and consumption of food or food products”) or trade waste allowed to be burned.

Trade waste is defined as “any refuse resulting from the prosecution of any trade, business, industry, commercial venture, utility or service activity, and any government or institutional activity, whether or not for profit.”

Tires, pallets, insulation off wire, and general construction, remodeling and demolition waste are examples of trade waste which are often burned illegally.

The Illinois EPA may grant permits for open burning if it serves the public interest, and the appropriate permit application is filed with and approved by them.

Permits may be issued for the following activities: firefighting training; burning landscaped waste with an air curtain destructor in a disaster area – open burning of clean wooden building debris, landscape waste, and agricultural waste caused by a disaster.

In practice, the Ogle County Solid Waste Management Department will investigate all complaints of dumping or open burning of waste in unincorporated areas of the county.

People involved in open burning of waste could face administrative citations and fines of $1,500 for each violation of dumping and or burning of waste.

Other additional charges and fines also may be imposed, depending on circumstances.

Incorporated areas of the county may have stricter laws pertaining to the burning of refuse or landscape waste, so residents who live in a municipality, should check with local authorities for regulations.

In summary, the open burning of most waste generally is prohibited.

IEPA permitted landfills and transfer stations are available for disposal of waste for those without regular service.

Drop-off recycling stations are in Byron, Davis Junction, Forreston, Monroe Center, Oregon, Polo, and Rochelle.

On site management of landscape waste (composting or mulching) is encouraged, or commercial composting sites are available in the region.

For more information, contact the Ogle County Solid Waste Management Department, 909 W. Pines Road, Oregon, IL 61061, or 815-732-4020.

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