Fairbanks-area residents asked to refrain from open burning under new state air-quality rules


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FAIRBANKS, Alaska — The state has asked people living in a section of Fairbanks North Star Borough to refrain from open burning until April 1, under new air quality rules.

The rules taking effect Saturday involve open burning and smokestack emissions, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://is.gd/yu7Gq3) reported.

Open burning, including debris and brush fires, is prohibited through March 31.

Borough residents in a 200-square-mile area also are asked to monitor their smokestacks and heed air-quality announcements by the borough or state.

During air-quality advisories, residents are asked to make sure smoke from chimneys does not have more than 50 percent opacity for more than 15 minutes an hour. Opacity reflects the level of light blocked by a plume of smoke.

"The more dense it is, the harder it is to see through it," said state air-quality program manager Cindy Heil.

Chimney omissions cannot be higher than 20 percent opacity during air-quality episodes, she said.

The new rules aim to decrease air pollution in Fairbanks and North Pole. The rules are separate from other pollution measures the borough Assembly is considering.

The rules apply to an area reaching the Tanana River north to Fox, west to the Old Nenana Highway and east to North Pole.

Too much of a certain type of air particulate pollution prompted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to put the area on a watch list.

The open burning prohibition also applies to campfires, which must be smaller than 3 feet by 3 feet. Also permitted are celebratory fireworks and ceremonial fires, according to Heil.

Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

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