November 7, 2018
Montpelier, Vt – The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today that Michael Riendeau, Sr. of Brownington agreed to pay a $12,000 fine and perform cleanup activities after violating air pollution control and solid waste regulations by unlawfully burning and burying demolition waste on his property.
In July 2016, Mr. Riendeau received at his property in Brownington approximately six dump-truck loads of demolition wastes and household items that originated from a nearby fire-damaged residential structure. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Riendeau conducted an open burn of the waste on his property, impacting nearby residences for over 24 hours. The fire triggered a response from the Orleans Fire Department, which devoted two hours to extinguishing the smoldering fire. After the firefighters left the scene, Mr. Riendeau buried the remains of the burn pile on his property.
While open burning of natural wood, leaves, and brush is allowed in much of Vermont—with permission from your local forest fire warden—the open burning of any other type of material is only lawful in very limited circumstances with a permit from the Air Quality and Climate Division. Burning demolition waste and household items creates a nuisance at best, and at worst creates potential environmental hazards and significant public health risks. As non-natural materials like plastics, rubber, and chemicals burn, particulates and toxic compounds released by the burning travel into the air. These pollutants can degrade air quality, can be inhaled, or can settle in water or soils and enter the food chain and are difficult to remove from the environment. Many of the toxic compounds have been linked to several types of significant health issues in humans.
“When it comes to waste, we’ve all asked the question, ‘What do I do with this?’” says Emily Boedecker, Commissioner of DEC. “DEC’s solid waste program stands ready to assist individuals, homeowners and businesses in evaluating disposal options that protect human health and natural resources. Burning demolition or other waste, without authorization, is never a good option and will result in penalties.”
An order of the Vermont Supreme Court’s Environmental Division, dated November 6, 2018, approves an agreement between DEC and Mr. Riendeau that requires Mr. Riendeau pay a $12,000 penalty for the violations. The agreement also requires a prompt and full clean-up, in accordance with a clean-up plan approved by DEC, of the buried remains of the burn.
The Solid Waste and Recycling Program in DEC provides Vermonters with guidance about how to manage common and uncommon waste materials, from pharmaceuticals to construction and demolition debris. The Department also provides targeted guidance for businesses managing specific wastes like excess food or hazardous materials. For more information, including recycling and composting guidelines, visit DEC’s Solid Waste and Recycling Program at http://dec.vermont.gov/waste-management/solid. For more information regarding permissible and prohibited open burning in Vermont, visit DEC’s Open Burning Permit Program at http://dec.vermont.gov/air-quality/compliance/open-burning.