KRC Comments on Open Burning Regulation Revision

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December 1, 2003

Carl Milanti, Environmental Tech III Division for Air Quality

803 Schenkel Lane

Frankfort, Kentucky 40601

Re: Amendment to 401 KAR 63:005

Open Burning

Dear Mr. Milanti:

These comments are submitted on behalf of the Board and membership of the Kentucky Resources Council, Inc., concerning the proposed amendment to the existing air quality regulation governing open burning, 401 KAR 63:005.

After review of the proposed regulation, KRC submits these comments for the agency's consideration:

Section 1

1. The revision to the definition of "approved burn chamber" does not appear to require that the approved chamber include approved emissions control devices as needed to meet the requirements of the Division's air quality regulations. The requirement for "approved control devices" should be incorporated into the new definition at (2)(c).

Section 2

The regulation should clarify the relationship of the open burning restrictions of 63:005 to the toxics standard of 63:020, in order to assure that the open burning regulations do not inadvertently sanction emissions in violation of the standards of 63:020. Additionally, the relationship of the open burning regulation to the general prohibition against visible fugitive emissions crossing property lines should be clarified. This may be best accomplished by incorporating in the regulation a clear obligation of a person conducting open burning under 63:005 to obey both the obligations of 63:020 and the visible emissions limits of 63:010.


Section 3

1. This comment is equally applicable in Section 4; the restrictions on open burning in areas where existing or potential nonattainment exists regarding particulates should extend to PM10 as well as PM2.5, since both remain regulatory NAAQS standards and open burning can result in emissions affecting visibility and property as well as health.

2. The basis for excluding biomass from home trash disposal fires, yet allowing the uncontrolled combustion of plastics in such household waste disposal, is questioned, since the other fractions of the waste may present a greater health risk on and off-site.

In that same vein, in order to be consistent with the solid waste goals established by the legislature, prohibitions against open burning of household waste should not be limited to areas where there is countywide mandatory collection, but should be expanded to prohibit burning waste where a city has waste collection services, and where collection services are available (and not just where mandated). Burning mixed municipal waste, with its attendant health impacts due to the emission of products of the inefficient and partial combustion, should not be allowed where waste collection services are available.

Section 5

Set minimum distances from structures, forested areas, schools and other institutional and residential building should be required, rather than using a "safe" distance as the standard. The key to this regulation is that it be understandable by the regulated population, readily applicable in the field, and capable of enforcement and verification. Subjective standards, to the extent possible, should be avoided in favor of set distances and timeframes in order to protect the reasonable expectations and health of other property owners.

Maximum Time Periods & Prohibitions Against Off-Site Plumes

The regulation should, as previously suggested, incorporate clear standards applicable to the combustion of site clearing wastes. There have been numerous instances in which site clearing debris has been ignited and has been left to smolder for long periods of time, resulting in adverse off-site impacts and interfering with the use and enjoyment of other lands.

This problems should be resolved by: (1) capping the time period during which an open burn for site clearing can occur, and requiring that the combustion efficiency be maintained to prevent smoldering; (2) requiring that visible emissions limits be met at all times at the property boundaries; and (3) incorporating a provision prohibiting any open burning that creates a nuisance condition. While this last provision is not a numerical standard, it is a necessary provision allowing Cabinet intervention where minimum compliance is maintained yet, due to site-specific conditions, an unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of other lands results.

Open burning of ordnance

The open burning and open detonation (except in emergency situations where undetonated materials are encountered) of discarded military ordnance should be specifically excluded from this regulation, and if not already regulated under DAQ regulations, should be subject to regulatory controls in order to assure that the emissions and resulting wastes are properly characterized, controlled and managed.

The open burning of surplus ordnance "smudge pots" by the Blue Grass Army Depot during the late 1970's, resulting in the hospitalization of scores of individuals from smoke inhalation, is perhaps the most egregious example of inappropriate undermanagement of surplus or decommissioned ordnance. Open burning and open detonation of ordnance is unjustified and potentially dangerous both from an air quality and solid waste standpoint, since those wastes may contain products of combustion and of incomplete combustion (particularly where chlorinated materials are used as part of the ordnance or chlorinated plastics are used as containment) that are of public health concern.

According to the Center for Public Environmental Oversight,

Open detonation and open burn operations are used to destroy

excess, obsolete, or unserviceable munitions and energetic (i.e., explosive) materials. Open burn and open detonation are subject to increasing regulatory restriction and these techniques may no longer be feasible in the near future. In open burning, materials such as rocket fuel are destroyed by self-sustained combustion after being ignited. In general, electric initiation systems are preferable because they provide better control. In open detonation, explosives and munitions are destroyed by a detonation of explosive charges. In the past, these operations occurred at land surface or in pits. Recently, burn trays and blast boxes have been used to control and contain resulting emissions. In detonation processes the blast box may be below grade and covered with soil to further minimize the release of emissions.

According to the CPEO, there are significant concerns regarding open detonation and open burn operations, including:


* contamination of u nderlying soil and groundwater with byproducts of incomplete combustion, heavy metals, or incomplete detonation products resulting from open operations;


* uncaptured emissions of hydrocarbons, metals, and other substances from open operations, which could be controlled through use of subsurface processes to minimize emissions release;

* risks to neighboring properties from sparks, flames, smoke, and toxic fumes;

* danger from accidental detonation of explosives, pyrotechnics, and propellants;

* the future hazard from the possibility that some ordnance or energetics will not be destroyed. In particular, bulk detonation may cause "kick out", the ejection of an undetonated device, distributing dangerous ordnance over a wide area. Kick-out can be minimized by the proper placement of multiple charges.

Open detonation is a form of uncontrolled incineration. It is a process that can lead to toxic releases and exposures, and which should not be allowed. The Dugway Proving Grounds, which maintains a website, contains significant information concerning advances in controls of the environmental consequences of obsolete munitions and the lack of necessary for any exemption for open detonation and burn operations. A specific exclusion from 401 KAR 63:005 should be included to prevent open burning of ordnance.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of these comments.


Tom FitzGerald


By Kentucky Resources Council on 12/01/2003 5:32 PM
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