Thread: Burn Barrel Blues
03-17-2004, 04:48 AM #1
Burn Barrel Blues
By MICHAEL GORMLEY
Associated Press Writer
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Ken Ashley looks out from his country home
in the wide open spaces of northern New York and wonders if a small
band of environmentalists is just crazy.
"It's all foolishness," he said. He scoffs at New York's
latest and most powerful push to join a growing number of states
that ban the burning of household and farm trash in backyard "burn
Long before dumps became landfills, the rusted, waist-high drums
have been used to burn household and barnyard trash in Technicolor
flames that ban supporters say spew toxic plumes. In Ashley's St.
Lawrence County, near the St. Lawrence River, nearly half of 9,926
rural households burned garbage, according to a 1993 county survey.
This year, burn barrels were banned in California and New
Mexico, increasing to eight the number of states that prohibit the
practice. While New York remains within the majority, its position
is rare in the northeast where Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire,
Vermont, Massachusetts and New Jersey have canned burn barrels.
Ashley questions the need for a such a measure on country folk.
"If they think Ogdensburg has air pollution, they should try
living in L.A., like I did for 20 years," said the 59-year-old
accountant. "I think it's just a small group of people who have
their own agenda."
In an Assembly hearing last week, state health and environmental
officials, physicians and environmentalists said burning garbage in
the relatively low temperatures of burn barrels spews toxins into
the air. Half of all dioxins in the environment are now created in
burn barrels, where 10 pounds of garbage can produce as much
pollution as 400,000 pounds burned in a municipal incinerator,
Physicians told the Assembly hearing that byproducts of the
burns include dioxin, a possible cancer-causing agent. Supporters
also link the burns to wild fires, lower IQs in children and to
making boys physically more feminine and girls more masculine.
"The Environmental Protection Agency has a Web site devoted to
it, that's how important it has become," said Denise Griffin of
the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Even limited exposure can be dangerous when breathed or ingested
in food, according to the EPA. Children and the elderly are most
"Whenever garbage is burned, be it junk mail, food containers
or gift-wrapping paper, toxic compounds and particulate matter are
dispersed," said California Air Resources Board Chairman Dr. Alan
The New York Farm Bureau is the loudest opponent of a state ban,
saying inadequate disposal options make it too expensive for
farmers to get rid of waste. A bureau lobbyist didn't return a call
"In addition to low commodity prices, burdensome taxes and
disastrous weather-related crop losses, farmers are increasingly
facing pressures and criticisms involving normal farming practices,
including agricultural waste disposal," the bureau said in a memo
Despite opposition by the California Farm Bureau Federation, the
law has been enforced there since Jan. 1 with little protest.
Locally set fines can be $300 and climb with repeat offenses.
"We've gotten very few calls," said Gennet Paauwe, spokeswoman
for the California Air Resources Board. "There are some citizens
out there who are very against this, and there are citizens out
there who are so pleased to have clean air to breathe at their
homes without smoke, and especially from garbage."
The New York Senate, controlled by Republicans representing
largely rural districts, prefers to leave state law as it has been
for 30 years: A ban in communities with more than 20,000 people.
Smaller towns can enact local bans.
Senate majority spokesman Mark Hansen didn't respond to the
question of why a statewide ban was appropriate only for larger
Tim Erson, a physical therapist and volunteer firefighter in the
Catskills hamlet of Narrowsburg, worries about his 3- and
5-year-old children who play within 250 yards of 12 garbage
"The sickly toxic smells from open burning is something we've
been subjected to repeatedly," he said. "I question their right
to poison my family."
On the Net:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
New York Farm Bureau: http://www.nyfb.org
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
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03-17-2004, 11:03 AM #2
Huh?This year, burn barrels were banned in California and New Mexico, increasing to eight the number of states that prohibit the practice.
03-21-2004, 11:12 PM #3expvolFirehouse.com Guest
Over spring break I drove from KC, to Ft Walton FLA. My route took me
to tenn, and south through alabama on I65, 31, and 41. Most of the people didnt obey the burn ban. There were about 15 billowing towers of black smoke along the route. Some of them putting out as much smoke as a ripin house fire does. I then saw the wildfires near destin fl and mobile ala.
03-22-2004, 12:11 AM #4
- Join Date
- Jun 2002
- Glenn Dale Md, Heart of the P.G. County Fire Belt....
Why do the idiots keep trying to save us from ourselves? If everyone who could, would dispose of their own trash, the landfills wouldn't fill up so fast. In our area, you can't burn leaves anymore. But my taxes go to pay county employees to run around with vac trucks cleaning up leaves each fall and winter. Then they dump them in huge piles at (where else?) the damn landfill. Stupid.Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
In memory of
Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006
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03-22-2004, 11:05 AM #5
Back in the days before cheap paper shreaders my dad always kept a burn barrel on the farm. He would burn stuff that he didn't want to throw in the county green boxes but I don't remember it being that bad unless he threw plastic in (not that often) but I could see that with todays plastic content in household trash that it could be a mess burning everything that comes out of a household trash can.
hwoods why doesn't your landfill start a compost heap? If they are so set against burning, putting it in the landfill is a waste of space and a waste of resources. It's a shame that all the leaves, grass clippings, and other compostable material ends up in landfills. It could be made into the best potting soil/top soil on earth given time and just a little care by county workers. Probably most greenies will disagree with me but I think some class A smoke in the air is natural. Burn those leaves and leave us alone, but do it with common sense."Illegitimis non carborundum."
- Gen. Joseph Stilwell
(Lat., "Don't let the *~#%&S grind you down.")
03-22-2004, 11:14 AM #6but do it with common sense."This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?
03-22-2004, 12:11 PM #7
Bones they keep us in business regretably.
In our area we have very few leaf fires that get out of hand. We have more problems with brush pile burners and field clearers burning broom straw. Most of the time the leaf burners will watch their fires far longer than the other 2 groups.
We had some weekenders come in on Friday night and set a brush/stump pile on fire that night. They left on Saturday and on Sunday the wind got up and set the house on fire. I think a hunter noticed it when he was looking for lost dogs. Only got one side of the house and a little under it but they were lucky.
One family was burning a corn field off on Thanksgiving one year and burned most all of the farm buildings down near the house. They tried to fight it with water hoses because they didn't want to call us at first I think.
Cannot think of any burn barrel related fires but I'm sure we have had some."Illegitimis non carborundum."
- Gen. Joseph Stilwell
(Lat., "Don't let the *~#%&S grind you down.")
03-22-2004, 03:57 PM #8
- Join Date
- Feb 1999
- Northern NY
The whole burning barrel issue is a huge thing in NNY. The driving issue is not so much a fire problem but a higher than average cancer rate among the people of the area. The burning of plasics and such and the fact that most of these containers smolder rather than "hot burn" completely makes for a pretty smelly experience if your house happens to be downwind from the offender.
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