Expect state to impose burn bans in Mid-Columbia

By the Herald staff January 20, 2009 

State officials are likely to impose more burning bans in the region in weeks ahead because of a high-pressure weather system that is keeping a lid on the Mid-Columbia.

The temperature inversion is creating lack of air movement, which causes poor air quality that can be made worse by burning.

New burn ban requirements created by the Environmental Protection Agency and adopted by the 2008 Washington Legislature are intended to clear out the bad air and relieve the atmospheric stagnation, said Clint Bowman, a state Department of Ecology meteorologist.

"With increasing frequency, many places suffer from poor air quality -- putting people's health at risk," Bowman said.

Under the new standards, Ecology is likely to call more wintertime burning bans in counties where the agency regulates air quality. Those include Chelan, Douglas, Kittitas, Klickitat, Okanogan, Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla and Whitman counties.

In Eastern Washington, regional air authorities in Benton, Spokane and Yakima counties also may call for burn bans, and the EPA calls burn bans for tribal lands.

Regulations allow for two different stages of burn bans, depending on weather conditions and pollution levels.

Violations of these burn bans can result in enforcement actions, including penalties.

More information is available at www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/air/outdoor_woodsmoke/Burn_Ban.htm.

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