ALBANY, N.Y. -- Federal, state and local officials are reminding residents affected by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee that as they clean up their homes and remove flood-damaged material, they need to be aware of potentially hazardous wastes and must dispose of them correctly.
Residents and business owners affected by flooding are urged to separate household and commercial hazardous waste from non-hazardous materials. Common wastes of concern include solvents, paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, petroleum products and pesticides. Other products that contain corrosive, toxic, flammable or reactive ingredients, such as bleach and ammonia, are also considered household hazardous waste.
"Improperly disposing of household hazardous waste, such as petroleum products, old paint and pesticides, will make an already bad situation worse. People are urged to separate out household hazards and bring them or arrange for them to be brought to a facility that accepts this toxic material. Putting these items out for disposal with regular trash may damage people's health and the environment. When it doubt, put it aside and ask for assistance on where these items should be brought," said Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck.
"Proper precautions should be used and clean-up crews should establish a controlled area to temporarily store household hazardous waste as storm recovery efforts are conducted," Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens said. "Any oil or petroleum product spills should be reported to DEC so the proper clean-up procedures can be followed. Taking proper measures now can reduce costs down the road and prevent further harm to the environment from these storms."
Oil-contaminated debris or material contaminated with other petroleum products should be segregated and stored in a well-ventilated area. If stored outdoors, piles should be covered to keep precipitation from contaminating nearby soil and water. Any chemical or oil spills, such as from oil home heating tanks, must be reported to DEC through the agency's Spills Hotline at 1-800-457-7362.
It is also important to clean and disinfect everything touched by floodwaters as quickly as possible, since floodwaters and sediments carried by them may contain chemical and biological contaminants from sources as varied as garden chemicals and heating oil to sewage and septage.
Renters and homeowners should assume that anything touched by floodwater is contaminated and will have to be disinfected or thrown away. Discard any household goods, such as wall coverings, rugs and furniture that may be contaminated with mold and other toxins and can't be disinfected. When in doubt, throw it out.
In many cases, EPA and DEC have worked with local municipalities to establish temporary storage areas for storm-generated debris. New Yorkers can find more information by calling EPA or one of the following regional DEC offices during normal business hours to obtain region-specific disposal information:
HAZARDOUS WASTE HOTLINE: 1-888-283-7626
Adirondacks- Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties: (518) 623-1230
Capital Region- Albany, Columbia, Delaware, Greene, Montgomery, Otsego, Rensselaer, Schenectady and Schoharie counties: (518) 357-2243
Hudson Valley- Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties: (845) 256-3123
Long Island- Nassau and Suffolk counties: (516) 444-0375
Southern Tier- Broome, Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Oswego, Tioga and Tompkins counties: (315) 426-7419
More information regarding storm debris disposal for specific materials can be found on DEC's web...