Illegal burning can result in hefty fines

Published 12:51 am Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thinking about burning your household garbage instead of taking it to the dump? Then be ready for a fine of up to $1,000, Pearl River County Fire Marshal Albert Lee said in response to supervisors’ questions at the Board of Supervisors’ meeting on Tuesday.

Citing the state fire code, Lee pointed out that it is against state law to burn any type of household garbage, building materials, or organic matter.

He has responded to calls involving a number of repeat offenders, Lee said and said the public needed to be more aware of what they can and can not burn. “The fire code says you can not burn garbage,” said Lee. “You can burn limbs, trees, paper, but not household garbage.”

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Mississippi state law 17-17-9 states that “no garbage or rubbish …. or hazardous wastes shall be burned except in approved incinerators meeting the necessary temperature requirements and air pollution controls …. The open burning of rubbish shall be permitted only under controlled circumstances where sanitary landfill and landfill is not feasible ….”  Pearl River County has the use of a landfill on U.S. Highway 11 just north of McNeill.

The ordinance goes on to state that burning organic matter, such as horse manure and discarded food stuff, is also prohibited.

Lee said permitted items include limb and tree debris, leaves, pine straw, wood products not containing creosote or treated materials. Although some paper and cardboard products are permitted, Lee said that those should be treated as rubbish that can not be burned legally because some contain materials in the prohibited list, such as specialty coatings. “White paper products are okay,” Lee said, such as notebook paper.

Lee, who is responsible for the 825 square miles of Pearl River County with the exception of the cities of Picayune and Poplarville, said a person found guilty of illegal burning, will have a misdemeanor on their record and can fined up to $1,000. They also face a jail term of up to 30 days. In addition, each offense is counted as separate violation, and subsequent offenses can result in a fine of between $200 and $2,000.