Open-air burning has island residents hot

MIDDLE BASS ISLAND Matt Richardson saw smoke rising and immediately grew concerned. R
May 24, 2010



Matt Richardson saw smoke rising and immediately grew concerned.

Richardson, a seasonal resident of Middle Bass Island, said the smoke was a problem for his asthmatic daughter, according to a complaint letter filed with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Richardson, Box 59 Grape Ave., lives across from state-owned property at 1223 Fox Road. He said the smoke became a problem Oct. 6-8 when a Sandusky contractor burned piles of brush and construction debris on state-owned land, the letter said.

Richardson declined to comment, but EPA officials said the open-air burning is illegal since Poulos & Associates Architects, Inc., of Sandusky, did not have a permit.

"From our standpoint, we're more concerned with public health," EPA spokeswoman Dina Pierce said. "The smoke can create problems for people with asthma and other respiratory ailments."

Poulos & Associates was hired by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to burn the brush piles and clear the land. ODNR needs the land cleared so it can deposit soil and silt for an upcoming dredging of Lonz Marina.

The contractor was given a notice of violation for "burning brush, construction debris, metal posts and fencing in a restricted area" according to documents released to the Register.

George Poulos, president of Poulos & Associates, responded in a letter on Oct. 26 the company had approval for the open-air burn from the local fire department.

Poulos could not be reached for comment.

Pierce said the contractor did not realize the company needed permission from the EPA in addition to the fire department.

The contractor had at least three violations for the open-air burning, said Mark Budge, environmental manager of the EPA's Division of Air Pollution Control.

In addition to not obtaining a permit, the contractor burned debris within 1,000 feet of an inhabited building. Also, the contractor did not use an air curtain destructor, which helps reduce pollution from open-air burning, Budge said.

The open-air burning ended at the time of the violation, and the contractor has stopped all operations for the duration of the winter, said Tom Sattler, environmental supervisor for EPA's Division of Air Pollution Control.

Debris from the burning was loaded onto a barge and transported to Sandusky. There are still piles of debris on the island, Pierce said. Sattler said the contractor has not decided whether they will apply for the permit when completing the clearing next year.

Island residents can rest easy since the open-air burning should not have a lasting effect on the island, Pierce said.

"Once the burning stops and the smoke dissipates, the issue stops," Pierce said.

ODNR was not cited since the contractor is responsible for any construction according to their contract, Pierce said.