DENR cites city after houses burned
December 10. 2013 1:13PM
The City of Dell Rapids violated its rubble site permit when it burned some residential housing debris in early November.
On Nov. 7, city workers lit five discarded homes on fire at the rubble site. On Nov. 13, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which issues rubble site permits to municipalities, received a complaint that the homes were still burning six days later. The complaint also alleged that asphalt shingles, waste tires and other prohibited items were being burned.
DENR’s Jim Wendte said the city’s violation in November was threefold: Dell Rapids doesn’t have a permit to burn untreated wood, any burning that does take place is supposed to be done during daytime hours and DENR must be notified before conducting an open burn.
Wendte said his office was not notified and the burn spanned six days.
“Their permit allows them to accept that kind of waste, but only to bury it, not to burn it,” he said.
After it became aware of the burning, DENR contacted the city and directed officials to put the fire out.
“Based upon what (the complainant) told us, we asked them to immediately put it out, and they did do that,” he said. “The local fire department did go out and douse the fire, so it didn’t continue to smolder.”
The city wasn’t fined for the violation, but received a warning letter.
Although his office didn’t conduct an investigation, Wendte said he doesn’t believe any tires or shingles were burned - only the five houses.
City administrator Justin Weiland said the rubble site takes residential homes, but usually buries them as specified in the permit.
“There was a larger amount of homes that we took out there this year than on a normal year, so some of the reason was to reduce the size of the pit,” he said.
Weiland said the Public Works Department is aware of the violation and has been directed to never burn untreated wood again.
The city’s solid waste permit is up in April 2014, but Wendte said renewal is not in jeopardy as long as there aren’t any more violations between now and then.