Thursday, June 23, 2011

DNR waives cleanup regulations in tornado-affected areas

(From the Missouri Department of Natural Resources)

Following Governor Jay Nixon’s extension of the declaration of emergency, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has extended a waiver that gives residents and communities in Missouri additional flexibility in cleaning up from severe weather and tornados in the Joplin and Sedalia areas.

The department has waived specific solid waste and air pollution regulations in three Missouri counties that were affected by the outbreak of tornados and severe weather that began May 22 through May 25. The counties include Jasper, Newton and Pettis counties.

The extended waiver will continue to allow vegetative waste, such as brush and yard waste, which normally is excluded from permitted sanitary landfills, to be taken to such landfills if the landfill agrees to accept the waste. The waiver applies only to vegetative waste caused or damaged by the storms in May.

The extended waiver also allows for the burning of vegetative waste resulting from the storms as long as it is burned on the property where it originated. Community burn sites located within the corporate limits of any municipality must receive a permit from the department.

The burning of vegetative waste from the storms must be done at least 200 yards from the nearest occupied structure and be approved by local fire officials. The department is asking community officials to consider the 200-yard buffer as a minimum and to select burn locations carefully, taking local air quality, public health and safety, and other effects on neighborhoods into consideration.

The department continues to strongly encourage, but not require, composting of vegetative waste where practical. While the department’s extended waiver allows residents to burn vegetative debris if necessary, it does not allow additional items to be burned in order to be protective of human health and air pollution and follow state and federal regulations. Individuals cleaning up debris in the Joplin and Sedalia areas should NOT burn building structural debris, home furnishings, personal items, household hazardous waste, appliances and tires.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are coordinating the debris removal cleanup process in the Joplin area. EPA and its contractors are managing the household hazardous waste, white goods such as appliances, and electronic waste such as computers and televisions. The Corps and its contractors are managing the remaining construction debris and vegetative material such trees and brush.

In the Sedalia area, the department encourages residents to recycle appliances damaged in the storm, but in cases where it is impractical to separate the appliances from other storm debris, the department is also allowing these items to be taken to a landfill. Again, the landfill must be willing to accept the appliances.

The department encourages cities and counties to coordinate collection of damaged appliances so refrigerants can be legally recovered from air conditioners, freezers and refrigerators before recycling.

The department' also waived the state requirements requiring the use of Missouri certified supervisors and workers dealing with the removal of asbestos-containing material. The department’s fact sheet regarding the handling of asbestos in an emergency is on the web at The federal regulations governing asbestos removal are still in place.

The extended waiver shall be in effect until Sept. 15 unless otherwise amended by subsequent notice. Further information, including the full text of the waiver, is available on the department's natural disaster resources webpage at Fact sheets on proper disposal of storm debris and other related information are also available on this webpage.

Local officials should call their nearest regional office for additional information or clarification of the waiver. For assistance in Newton and Jasper counties, officials may contact the department's Southwest Regional Office at 417-891-4300. For assistance in Pettis County, officials may contact the department’s Kansas City Regional Office at 816-622-7000.

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