News Release 168

Department of Natural Resources issues waivers to aid cleanup following tornados, severe thunderstorms in Joplin area

Volume 39-168 (For Immediate Release)
For more information: 573-751-1010

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, MAY 24, 2011 – The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is waiving specific solid waste and air pollution regulations to give residents and communities in two Missouri counties additional flexibility in cleaning up from Sunday’s severe weather outbreak that included a tornado that cause extensive damage to Joplin.

The waiver applies to two counties in southwest Missouri that were affected by the outbreak of tornados and severe weather that began Sunday afternoon. The counties include Jasper and Newton counties in southwest Missouri.

The waiver will allow vegetative waste, such as brush and yard waste, which normally is excluded from permitted sanitary landfills, to be taken to such landfills if the landfill agrees to accept the waste. The waiver applies only to vegetative waste caused or damaged by the Sunday’s storms.

The department continues to strongly encourage, but not require, composting of vegetative waste where practical. The waiver applies only to yard waste and does not allow disposal of other items normally prohibited in sanitary or demolition landfills.

The department encourages residents to recycle appliances damaged in the storm, but in cases where it is impractical to separate the appliances from other storm debris, the department is also allowing these items to be taken to a landfill. Again, the landfill must be willing to accept the appliances.

The department encourages cities and counties to coordinate collection of damaged appliances so refrigerants can be legally recovered from air conditioners, freezers and refrigerators before recycling.

The waiver also allows for the burning of vegetative waste resulting from the storms as long as it is burned on the property where it originated. Community burn sites located within the corporate limits of any municipality must receive a permit from the department.

The burning of vegetative waste from the storms must be done at least 200 yards from the nearest occupied structure and be approved by local fire officials. The department is asking community officials to consider the 200-yard buffer as a minimum and to select burn locations carefully, taking local air quality, public health and safety, and other effects on neighborhoods into consideration.

The department also is waiving the state requirements requiring the use of Missouri certified supervisors and workers dealing with the removal of asbestos-containing material. The department’s fact sheet regarding the handling of asbestos in an emergency is on the web at The federal regulations governing asbestos removal are still in place.

The waiver shall be in effect until June 20 unless extended. Further information, including the full text of the waiver, is available on the department's natural disaster resources webpage at Fact sheets on proper disposal of storm debris and other related information are also available on this webpage.

Local officials should call their nearest regional office for additional information or clarification of the waiver. For assistance in Newton and Jasper counties, officials may contact the department's Southwest Regional Office at 417-891-4300.