The state made burning garbage illegal in 1969, but left a loophole for households with no garbage service. The county commissioners deter-mined that pick-up service was available throughout the county in October 1995, thus making the burning of garbage illegal.
Vegetative material may still be burned, but requires a permit unless the barrel is approved by the Department of Natural Resources.
Burning barrels release toxic chemicals, and studies have shown that due to the low burning temperatures in a barrel, the level of dangerous dioxins is 1,000 times higher than in a municipal incinerator.
The ash from a burning barrel also contains toxic materials, including acidic gases, heavy metals, and dioxins. It may not be disposed in a landfill without testing, and it is illegal to bury it or disperse it on the ground.
Stearns County currently has a program to help people switch to a regular garbage service. The county, in cooperation with local garbage haulers, West Central Sanitation in the Paynesville area, offers a $75 credit for the year for people who cease using a burning barrel and sign up for garbage service. The credit works out to $6.25 a month.
Through the program, up to four burning barrels can be removed from a property owner at no cost. Call 1-800-452-0852 for more information.
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