California Considers Trash Burn Ban

Sacramento -- The California Air Resources Board is considering a ban on burn barrels as a way to dispose of waste, citing pollution hazards. But many California residents oppose the measure because they live in rural areas that do not have curbside collection programs or regularly scheduled pickups.

Burn barrels are used to burn trash, which is widely practiced in rural areas of the country, including California. But air regulators say that the 8,000 burn barrels still in use throughout the state emit dioxins and other toxic substances that can be harmful to the environment.

The board will consider the ban in Feb. 2002. If approved, it will take effect in mid-2003. Meantime, air regulators are holding workshops throughout the state to educate rural residents on the dangers of inhaling toxic substances through burn barrels. The workshops are being met with much resistance, primarily because many rural residents believe that the pollution problem lies in areas like San Francisco and Los Angeles, and that they are being thrown into the same category with the same rules.

In response, the board also is considering allowing exemptions for extreme rural areas where the cost of getting special trash pickup service is deemed too great.