The Environmental Protection Agency's counterpart here in the state of Georgia is the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. As part of its responsibilities, the agency works to make sure that the quality of the air you breathe remains at a level that does not harm your health.
The GEPD enforces a variety of laws, rules and regulations regarding airborne pollutants. Like most people, you may think of automobile pollution and chemicals used by certain industries. While that is true, the agency also enforces rules regarding burning materials outdoors, categorized as open burning.
What constitutes a legal open burn?
If you wish to conduct an open burn, you must obtain a permit to do so. In order to get that permit, your burn must fall into one of the following types of legal burns:
- Using an air curtain destructor to clear land
- Reducing the leaves on your premises
- Disposing of packing materials for explosives
- Engaging in agricultural procedures on five acres or less for harvesting or producing crops
- Clearing land, right-of-way maintenance and construction
- Burning vegetation on more than five acres for agricultural procedures
- Using open flame devices
- Prescribed burning
- Burning for disease, pest or weed abatement prevention
- Burning for cooking or recreational purposes
- Burning vegetative debris from storms
- Training firefighters
- Acquired structure burns
When seeking a permit for one of the above reasons, you will also need to contend with any rules or regulations of the county in which the burn will take place, which may place certain restrictions on you, along with the GEPD. You may also not receive a permit if you wish to conduct an open burn in the summer, depending on the location.
You cannot burn certain materials at any time of the year. If your burn is necessary to protect welfare and safety or protect the public, you may receive a waiver. Moreover, if you have no alternative to an open burn, a waiver may also be possible.
Complying with environmental laws
Assistance is available if you need to obtain a waiver. If you failed to receive the proper permit or the GEPD accuses you of burning a banned material, you may want to consult with an attorney to explore your rights and legal options.
The best course of action may be to make sure that your open burn will comply with the law prior to seeking a permit, especially if it is for a commercial purpose, since you will more than likely be subject to additional rules and regulations as well.