A Sibley County man has agreed to pay a $14,500 penalty, clean up a site and write a letter to the editor of The Land magazine telling people it is illegal to do what he did — burn old buildings.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency investigated Reed Burgstahler for the burning of a house and other structures that contained materials such as painted wood, painted metal, vinyl siding and appliances in October 2011.
The MPCA conducted a follow-up inspection a month after the initial incident after receiving a report that Burgstahler had burned additional buildings at the site. Agency staff found three additional burn areas that included ash, wood, shingles, painted wood, paint cans, asphalt roofing, and garbage. Some of the materials later tested positive for asbestos.
Asbestos refers to a group of minerals with long, thin fibers that do not burn and were once used in building materials. The fibers are too small to by seen by human eyes. If people inhale asbestos, the fibers can become lodged in their lungs, affecting breathing and leading to diseases such as cancer.
The burning of buildings violated state laws that require permits for waste disposal.
Burgstahler has agreed to pay a $14,500 penalty for the incidents, which occurred in an abandoned farm grove near Gibbon.
In addition to the financial penalty, Burgstahler must clean up the site and dispose of the waste at a facility with the appropriate permits. He is also being required to submit a letter to the editor of The Land, a statewide farm publication, informing readers it is illegal to burn old farm buildings and improperly dispose of the debris.