RALEIGH — State environmental officials have offered guidance for debris disposal following Hurricane Florence.
“Hurricane Florence carved a long, slow path of destruction across North Carolina, and the true impacts have yet to be seen as many are still waiting for rivers to crest and recede,” said N.C. Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael Regan in a news release. “In some areas, people are returning home, beginning to clean up and trying to figure out what to do with storm debris.”
• Storm debris: The best way to dispose of most storm debris — especially debris from damaged mobile homes, houses and other buildings — is to rely on your county or municipality’s waste disposal services or haul your waste to a permitted municipal solid waste landfill.
Since the storm, no local governments have reported significant problems with any landfills or contacted the state to request alternative means of solid waste disposal.
“Many counties and municipalities will continue to pick up limbs and other debris piled along the curb,” said Michael Scott, director of the state’s waste management division. “Using local government pickup and disposal services will ensure that waste material is disposed of in a manner that protects public health and the environment.”
Debris placed at the curb should be divided into three separate piles: yard debris like trees and limbs, household garbage in approved containers, and construction and demolition debris. Only place debris at the curb if your local disposal service provides curbside pickup as part of its regular operations or if the service has established a specific storm collection program.
• Household hazardous waste: If not disposed of correctly, household hazardous waste — materials like paint, glue, household cleaners, fertilizers and pesticides — can pose a threat to public health and the environment. These materials need to be brought to a household hazardous waste collection center for disposal. Many counties have permanent collection centers; however, following a storm with the magnitude of Hurricane Florence, counties open temporary collection centers to collect these materials.
For more information about what is considered household hazardous waste, a list of temporary collection events and permanent collection sites, go to deq.nc.gov.
• Appliances, televisions and electronics: Appliances, televisions, computers and other electronics are not allowed for landfill disposal in North Carolina. Some counties and municipalities have collection programs for appliances and electronics. Before placing the items at the curb, check with your local solid waste department for guidance on proper disposal. Any appliance placed curbside should be emptied and its contents disposed of in a proper manner.
• Open burning: It is illegal to burn debris if public debris pickup is available, and people should never burn trash, construction or demolition materials, tires, plastics and other man-made materials, as they may contain hazards such as asbestos. Further, burning of these materials may impact eligibility of Federal Emergency Management Agency or other storm-related funds. Open burning should be limited as much as possible because the smoke from outdoor fires can cause health problems and pollution.
Homeowners can burn yard trimmings if it’s allowed under local ordinances and no public pickup is available. Landowners may be allowed to burn vegetation to clear land or clean up storm debris, but they should check first with the closest N.C. Division of Air Quality regional office (deq.nc.gov). People seeking to burn also may need permits from the N.C. Forest Service, http://ncforestservice.gov/.