Open Burning Guidance Purpose



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Open Burning Guidance

Purpose

The purpose of this guidance is to clearly summarize the instances in which open burning is allowed. This guidance is intended only as a summary and explanation of the applicable air quality and solid waste regulations that apply to open burning. This guidance does not in any way replace, alter, or supersede any applicable regulations. In the event this guidance conflicts with any applicable statutes or regulations, the applicable statutes or regulations control.

This guidance applies ONLY to the requirements of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. Any open burning activities must also be authorized by any other federal, state, or local governmental authorities empowered to grant such authorizations.

Guidance

In general, open burning in prohibited in the State of Louisiana. However, a number of exemptions exist from this prohibition in the applicable statue, La. R.S. 30:2057. In addition, there are two state regulations that allow open burning under limited circumstances. LAC 33:III.1109 regulates the air quality aspects of open burning. LAC 33:VII.315.M regulates the solid waste aspects of open burning. The majority of the applicable exemptions in the air regulations are self-explanatory. The focus of this guidance will be on the exemptions provided in LAC 33:III.1109.C.1-2 and LAC 33:III.1109.D.6.

It should be noted that in accordance with LAC 33:III.1103, smoke may not pass onto or across a public road such that it creates a traffic hazard or intensifies an existing traffic hazard by “impairment of visibility” as defined in LAC 33:III.111. The definition of “impairment of visibility” states that impairment of visibility exists when the horizontal visibility at or near ground level is reduced to three times the stopping distances shown below:

20 mph – 43 feet to stop

30 mph – 79 feet to stop

40 mph – 126 feet to stop

50 mph – 183 feet to stop

60 mph – 251 feet to stop

70 mph – 328 feet to stop
Any open burning allowed by statute or regulation may not violate LAC 33:III.1103.

What types of materials can be burned via open burning?

The regulations and the statute refer to yard waste (defined as leaves, grass, twigs, branches, and vines), trees, and other vegetable matter as potentially acceptable materials. Based on these definitions, LDEQ has interpreted this to generally refer to chemically untreated vegetative material. Based on this interpretation, LDEQ has extended the list of acceptable materials to items such as chemically untreated crates, chemically untreated pallets, and chemically untreated road board that is free of any chemical contamination (such as crude oil or other petroleum by-products). LDEQ would not expect these materials to emit air pollutants that are different in type or quantity from their raw, unprocessed forms since the chemical properties of these materials are not different from that which they had in nature. Simply stated, sawing a piece of wood does not cause a change in the types of air pollutants that will be emitted from burning it and does not cause a change in the content of the ash left behind.

It is important to determine whether or not any processed wooden products are free of additional chemical additives that may include, but are not limited to paint, crude oil spillage, or pressure treatment chemicals. Materials that are contaminated with these or other similar materials would not be eligible for open burning and would not be eligible for combustion in an air curtain destructor/incinerator (ACD/ACI).

For allowed combustible materials that are covered in dirt, soil, mud, or other similar substances, efforts must be made to remove as much of these substances as possible from the combustible materials prior to burning.

Trees may be acceptable for open burning depending on the parish in which they will be burned and the circumstances under which the trees were made available for open burning. Trees may be burned under the following circumstances:


  1. The open burning site (OBS) is located in a parish with a population of less than 90,000, provided the OBS is not within a city or town’s limits and is not adjacent to a city or town such that the smoke from burning will affect the city. (LAC 33:III.1109.C.2)

  2. The OBS is a bonfire and is specifically authorized by ordinance in St. James, St. John the Baptist, or St. Charles Parishes. (LAC 33:III.1109.C.3)

  3. The OBS is a controlled burn in connection with timber stand management. (LAC 33:III.1109.C.6)

  4. The trees were generated from land clearing or right-of-way maintenance operations and the OBS will not be located in a rural park or rural recreation area. The OBS must additionally meet the requirements of LAC 33:III.1109.D.6.a-f.

Where may open burning be conducted?

If allowed by one of the exemptions from the prohibition against open burning, open burning may be conducted on any plot of land provided it can meet the requirements of the applicable regulations and is otherwise authorized by any other federal, state, or local governmental authorities empowered to grant such authorizations. Potential locations for an OBS are typically limited by the potential content of the material to be burned, the circumstances of combustible material generation, and the parish in which it is located. The allowable circumstances will be elaborated below.

If the material to be burned is generated from land clearing or right-of-way maintenance operations and the OBS will not be located in a rural park or rural recreation area, open burning may occur in any parish. The OBS must additionally meet the requirements of LAC 33:III.1109.D.6.a-f. It should be noted that this is the only exemption that would allow open burning of any kind of vegetable matter in East Baton Rouge Parish.

In a parish with a population of less than 300,000, leaves, grass, twigs, branches, and vines may be burned by a private property owner on his own private property, provided he attends the OBS at all times. This exemption does not apply in East Baton Rouge Parish. (LAC 33:III.1109.C.1)

In a parish with a population of 90,000 or less, trees, brush, grass, or other vegetable matter may be burned, provided the OBS is not within a city or town’s limits and is not adjacent to a city or town such that the smoke from burning will affect the city. (LAC 33:III.1109.C.2)

In any parish, trees, brush, grass, and other vegetable matter that is generated from land clearing or right-of-way maintenance operations may be burned if the OBS is at least 1,000 feet from any offsite dwelling or structure located on the property on which the burning is conducted. (LAC 33:III.1109.D.6.b) If there is no location on the property that is at least 1,000 feet from an offsite dwelling or structure, open burning may not occur. For the purposes of this restriction, “offsite” means any location that is not within the property boundaries of the property on which the OBS is located.



When may open burning be conducted?

If the material to be burned is generated from land clearing or right-of-way maintenance operations and the OBS will not be located in a rural park or rural recreation area, open burning may occur between the hours of 8:00am and 5:00pm. The piles of combustible material should be of such size to allow for complete reduction during this time.

In any other situation where open burning is allowed, open burning may occur at any time and for any length of time.

What approvals are needed from LDEQ?

In order to address air quality concerns, no approvals are necessary if the OBS complies with the exemptions provided in LAC 33:III.1109, which are summarized above. Any activity that does not qualify for these exemptions must obtain some kind of approval and cannot be disposed of via open burning. Please contact Air Permits Division for further guidance.

Since open burning may also be considered to be processing of solid waste in accordance with LAC 33:VII, the Department must issue the facility a written exemption from solid waste processing under LAC 33:VII.303.A.12 provided that the facility can meet conditions as required by R.S. 30:2001 et seq. and LAC 33:III.1109. It should be noted that R.S. 30:2057 is the portion of R.S. 30:2001 et seq that applies to open burning.

Applicable Regulations

LAC 33:III.1109, which reads as follows:

§1109. Control of Air Pollution from Outdoor Burning



A. Purpose. It is the purpose of this Section to control outdoor burning of waste or other combustible material.

B. Outdoor Burning Prohibited. No person shall cause or allow the outdoor burning of waste material or other combustible material on any property owned by him or under his control except as provided in Subsections C and D of this Section.

C. Statutory Exceptions. The following activities are not subject to the prohibition created in Subsection B of this Section:

1. the burning of leaves, grass, twigs, branches, and vines by a private property owner on his own property for noncommercial purposes in parishes with a population of 300,000 or less, provided the property owner attends the burning of yard waste at all times. This exception shall not apply in the parish of East Baton Rouge;

2. the burning of trees, brush, grass, or other vegetable matter in any parish having a population of 90,000 or less, provided the location of the burning is not within the territorial limits of a city or town or adjacent to a city or town in such proximity that the ambient air of the city or town will be affected by smoke from the burning;

3. the burning of trees, branches, limbs, or other wood as a bonfire that is specifically authorized by ordinance in the parishes of St. James, St. John the Baptist, or St. Charles;

4. the burning of agricultural by-products in the fields in connection with the planting, harvesting, or processing of agricultural products;

5. the controlled burning of cotton gin agricultural wastes in connection with cotton gin operations;

6. the controlled burning in connection with timber stand management; and

7. the controlled burning of pasture land or marshland in connection with trapping or livestock production.



D. Exceptions to Prohibition against Outdoor Burning. Outdoor burning of waste material or other combustible material may be conducted in the situations enumerated below if no public nuisance is or will be created and if the burning is not prohibited by and is conducted in compliance with other applicable laws and with regulations and orders of governmental entities having jurisdiction, including air control regulations and orders. The authority to conduct outdoor burning under this regulation does not exempt or excuse the person responsible from the consequences of or the damages or injuries resulting from the burning:

1. outdoor burning in connection with the preparation of food;

2. campfires and fires used solely for recreational purposes or for ceremonial occasions;

3. outdoor burning in a rural park or rural recreation area of trees, brush, grass, and other vegetable matter for game management purposes in accordance with practices acceptable to Louisiana Parks and Recreation Commission and Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission;

4. small fires, by tradesmen and contractors, in such activities as street repair, installation or repair of sewer, water, electric, telephone mains, and services;

5. the operation of contrivances using open flames such as welding torches, blow torches, portable heaters, and other flame making devices;

6. outdoor burning, in other than rural park or rural recreation area, of trees, brush, grass, and other vegetable matter from such area in land clearing and right-of-way maintenance operations if the following conditions are met:

a. prevailing winds at the time of the burning must be away from any city or town, the ambient air of which may be affected by smoke from the burning;

b. the location of the burning must be at least 1,000 feet (305 meters) from any dwelling other than a dwelling or structure located on the property on which the burning is conducted;

c. care must be used to minimize the amount of dirt on the material being burned;

d. heavy oils, asphaltic materials, items containing natural or synthetic rubber, or any materials other than plant growth which produce unreasonable amounts of smoke may not be burned; nor may these substances be used to start a fire;

e. the burning may be conducted only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Piles of combustible material should be of such size to allow complete reduction in this time interval; and

f. the burning must be controlled so that a traffic hazard as prohibited by Subsection E of this Section is not created;

7. fire purposely set as a part of an organized program of drills for the training of fire fighting personnel or for testing fire fighting materials or equipment if the following conditions are met:

a. the duration of the burning held to the minimum required for such purposes;

b. the burning is conducted only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.; and

c. the burning is controlled so that a traffic hazard as prohibited by Subsection E of this Section is not created;

8. outdoor burning of waste hydrocarbon products (from petroleum exploration, development or production operations, natural gas processing, such as, but not limited to, basic sediments, oil produced in testing an oil well, and paraffin) may be conducted at the site of origin when it is not practicable to transport the waste products for sale or reclamation, or to dispose of them lawfully in some other manner. In addition, hydrocarbons spilled or lost from pipeline breaks or other transport failure which cannot practicably be recovered or be disposed of lawfully in some other manner may be outdoor burned at the site where the spill occurred or at another appropriate place due to safety considerations. Except when the immediate or continuous burning of hydrocarbon spills is reasonably necessary to abate or eliminate an existing or imminent threat of injury to human life or significant damage to property, the outdoor burning shall be conducted under the following conditions:

a. the location of the burning must not be within or adjacent to a city or town or in such proximity thereto that the ambient air of the city or town may be affected by smoke from the burning;

b. the burning is conducted only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.; and

c. the burning is controlled so that a traffic hazard as prohibited by Subsection E of this Section is not created; and

9. special situations approvable for exemption by the administrative authority prior to initiation of burning operation, as follows:

a. outdoor burning of explosives, pyrophoric, or any other materials where there is no practicable or safe method of disposal;

b. experimental burning for purposes of data gathering and research; and

c. nonrecurring unusual circumstances or any condition not covered above.

E. Traffic Hazards Prohibited. The emission of smoke, suspended particulate matter or uncombined water or any air contaminants or combinations thereof which passes onto or across a public road and creates a traffic hazard by impairment of visibility, as defined in LAC 33:III.111, or intensifies an existing traffic hazard condition is prohibited.

F. Exclusion from Application of this Section. Outdoor burning pursuant to and in compliance with the terms of a variance granted by the administrative authority is excluded from the application of this Section.

La. R.S. 30:2057, which reads as follows:

A. No person shall:

(1) Discharge air contaminants or noise pollution into the air of this state in violation of regulations of the secretary or the terms of any permit, license, or variance issued hereunder.

(2) Violate any rule or regulation adopted by the secretary under this Chapter.

B. The provisions of this Chapter shall not apply in the following instances:

(1) To persons who burn agricultural by-products in the field in connection with the planting, harvesting, or processing of agricultural products.

(2) To controlled burning of cotton gin agricultural wastes in connection with cotton gin operations.

(3) To controlled burning in connection with timber stand management.

(4) To controlled burning of pastureland or marshland in connection with trapping or livestock production.

(5)(a) To the burning of trees, brush, grass, or other vegetable matter in any parish having a population of ninety thousand or less provided the location of the burning is not within the territorial limits of a city or town or is not adjacent to a city or town in such proximity that the ambient air of the city or town will be affected by smoke from the burning.

(b) The provisions of Subparagraph (a) of this Paragraph notwithstanding, the governing authority of any municipality having a population of five thousand or less may burn trees, brush, grass, or other vegetable matter on property that it owns or leases within the corporate limits of such municipality, provided that all of the following occur:

(i) The burning does not occur within five hundred feet of an occupied house or residence.

(ii) The municipality enacts an ordinance to prohibit burning of trees, brush, grass, or other vegetable matter within its corporate limits.

(iii) The municipality enacts an ordinance to provide for the collection and burning of trees, brush, grass, or other vegetable matter at a controlled site.

(c) Notwithstanding any provision of this Section or any other law to the contrary, in a parish having a population of ninety thousand persons or fewer according to the most recent federal decennial census, an ordinance may prohibit any person from burning trees, brush, grass, or other vegetable matter and otherwise regulate burning of flammable material when the fire danger rating for the area is high, as defined by rules adopted by the Department of Agriculture and Forestry as required by R.S. 33:1236(31)(b)(iii), or is predicted to be at such level, and for a reasonable time period thereafter. An ordinance adopted pursuant to this Subparagraph shall not apply to prescribed burns by the Department of Agriculture and Forestry, by those trained and certified by the Department of Agriculture and Forestry, or by those who conduct prescribed burning as a "generally accepted agriculture practice" as defined by the Louisiana Right to Farm Law (R.S. 3:3601 et seq.).

(6) To the burning of trees, branches, limbs, or other wood as a bonfire that is specifically authorized by ordinance in the parishes of St. James, St. John the Baptist, or St. Charles.

C.(1) Nothing in this Subtitle or in the rules or regulations adopted pursuant thereto shall prohibit a private property owner from burning yard waste on his own property, for noncommercial purposes, in parishes with a population of three hundred thousand or less, provided that the property owner attends the burning of yard waste at all times. The provisions of this Subsection shall not apply in the parish of East Baton Rouge.

(2) "Yard waste" as used in this Subsection means leaves, grass, twigs, branches, and vines.

(3) The provisions of this Subsection shall not prohibit a political subdivision from enacting ordinances or rules prohibiting or otherwise regulating the burning of yard waste.

LAC 33:VII.315.M, which reads as follows:

§315. Mandatory Provisions





M. Prohibition of Open Burning of Solid Waste. Open burning of solid waste is prohibited, except in accordance with R.S. 30:2001 et seq. and LAC 33:III.1109.


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