Burning and dumping trash is illegal in Vermont. Illegal dumping and burning are punishable by monetary fines up to $500, as well as community roadside cleanup. To report illegal dumping or burning of trash, call the Addison County Sheriff's Department at 388-2981, or the District Office at 388-2333. Middlebury residents should call the Middlebury Police Department at 388-3191. In a health or fire emergency, call 911.
Complaints may be made anonymously. A sheriff's deputy will investigate the complaint, and report back to you if you leave your name. The first visit by the deputy usually results in a warning. The deputy will educate the offender about the law, and work with him or her to clean up a dump site, or to arrange for other ways of disposing of trash. If the offender refuses to cooperate, or repeats the activity, further action will be taken, including fines.
Each day that a violation continues is considered a separate offense. Waiver fees apply in instances where violations are paid without being contested in court. More serious or chronic violations are reported to the State Agency of Natural Resources for enforcement.
Burning household trash is illegal, whether you do it in a barrel or in your woodstove. Burning trash causes pollution. The fire in a burn barrel or pile is not hot enough to destroy toxic substances released by burning materials. Furthermore, there are no safeguards to capture toxins in the smoke, released in concentrated form at ground level where they are easily inhaled. Smoke from burn barrels affects the health of some people immediately, causing eye irritation, asthma, or restricted breathing. Children are most at risk, since they breathe more quickly than adults and absorb up to six times as much contamination by breathing the same air. Chronic diseases like emphysema can develop over time with low exposure to air contaminants.
No type of combustion is entirely safe. Even burning “clean” materials such as untreated wood and yard waste can cause air pollution or create a nuisance. Most trash and demolition debris contains many different chemical components. Chemicals used in the manufacture of materials are either released in the combustion process or combine with other chemicals to create toxic agents.
If you are planning to burn clean, natural brush or leaves, you should contact your local fire warden first to see if there are any current restrictions on burning in your area, and to see if you require a burn permit. Click here for contact information for the local fire wardens in Addison County.
Dumping and littering threatens watersheds, drinking water, and wildlife. Heavy metals and other noxious substances in trash contaminate the ecosystem, and harm animals that consume or get caught in these materials. Please help protect the environment, our drinking water, and our health by properly disposing of waste!