Bushfire & burn damage
The EPA provides advice on disposal of burnt items from bushfires and other waste management issues.
For further assistance, please contact us on (08) 8204 2004 or email.
For information on the handling and removal of asbestos, refer to the guideline Wastes containing asbestos – removal, transport and disposal and the Asbestos disposal fact sheet.
For more information on the management of fire and water damaged asbestos, see the Asbestos SA website.
CCA treated timber
The chemicals and heavy metals present in the ash from burnt CCA treated timber poses a risk to ground and surface water quality, human and animal health, and soil quality.
CCA treated timber, when wet, generates a leachate that contains traces of heavy metal salts of copper chromium and arsenic, which may impact on soil and ground/surface water quality in some environments.
Do not dispose of CCA treated timber by burning or burying on site.
For further information on how to manage and dispose of CCA timber waste, please see the Guideline on copper chromated arsenate (CCA) timber waste—storage and management.
Contaminated water in rainwater tanks
After a bushfire, water in rainwater tanks may be contaminated with ash and residents may desire to drain and discard the water to a watercourse and clean the tank.
SA Health has advised that the water is safe for drinking but may be tainted for colour, taste and smell so consider the information in this fact sheet to ensure that your rainwater supply is suitable for drinking.
It is important to follow these steps during the process of draining a tank to a creek or dam.
- Place a hay bale, geotech material or similar between the outlet and the creek to prevent erosion and the transport of ash to water storages downstream. This may not be necessary if draining to sewer.
- Drain the water at a slow rate to ensure that the hale bale can effectively filter the ash and also prevent erosion.
When handling burnt or damaged chemicals and their containers for disposal, appropriate personal protective equipment should be worn to avoid contact with and inhalation including but not limited to wearing impermeable gloves, eye protection, protective face mask/dust mask, clothing with long sleeves/pants and suitable enclosed footwear.
Stock, pets and children should be excluded from affected areas to prevent ingestion of harmful chemicals.
Storage and disposal
If burnt or damaged chemicals and their containers are to be stored/stockpiled prior to disposal, storage should occur in a bin or container which can contain any leakage and prevent dispersal of ash.
Alternatively, such items can be stored on an impermeable surface such as a concrete, paving or bitumen and be covered to prevent leaching and further dispersal of ash to the surrounding environment.
A licensed waste transporter (listed in the Yellow Pages) should be used to transfer chemical wastes safely to an appropriate landfill site.
Bushfire-affected animal carcasses
Animal carcasses must be carried out without compromising the more pressing needs of farmers, residents and emergency services. The EPA will render assistance to farmers and emergency services to undertake this necessary activity while protecting water resources.
The EPA and PIRSA recommend that affected farmers and residents should contact their insurers prior to disposal of stock.
This information will assist farmers and emergency services in the initial review of the safe and appropriate disposal of animal carcasses under local conditions, and should be read in conjunction with PIRSA advice.
Preferred method of disposal
Isolated bushfire affected carcasses located throughout a property in the order of 10 per hectare (10/Ha) can be left to decompose naturally on site.
Dry rendering at an abattoir is the usual preferred method of carcass disposal, but following a bushfire this may not be a viable option. Burial is the preferred option for disposal of larger numbers of carcasses.