Illinois EPA Urges Environmentally Conscious Flood Debris Clean-up

Agency Working with Affected Communities to Guard Against Contamination from Sandbags, Appliances and Hazardous Materials

SPRINGFIELD–(ENEWSPF)–April 26, 2013.  The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (ILEPA) urged Illinois residents recovering from flooding to be aware of assistance that’s available to them through state and local authorities to properly dispose of flood debris. These practices are necessary because flood debris can cause harmful health effects and damage the environment. As flood waters recede and people return to their homes, knowing how to get rid of flood-damaged property will help people recover more quickly and safely.

Clean water and a clean environment are the key to safe communities, especially after a flood,” Lisa Bonnett, Director of the ILEPA said. “Our agency is committed to working with our local government partners to ensure that flood victims get the assistance they need to recover from this ordeal and that their water supplies remain protected.”

ILEPA has several categories of proper flood debris disposal. Any questions about which materials can be landfilled, burned or recycled will be answered promptly by calling: Landfill waste material (217-524-3300), open burning waste (217-782-2113), immediate emergency (800-782-7860), outdoor chemical contamination (217-782-3637)

Drinking Water Concerns:
Be sure to listen to special announcements about local boil orders that may be in effect. If a local advisory is issued, the safest route is to drink bottled water or juices. If you must use water during boil order conditions, it must be boiled vigorously for at least five minutes.

Water used to make ice, brush teeth, or wash dishes also must be boiled. Private water wells should be pumped out, allowed to recharge naturally, disinfected with bleach, and tested before drinking or cooking.

Your local public health department or the Illinois Department of Public Health regional office will provide you with information and assistance in testing your private well. Should special testing of water supplies for pesticides or other contaminants be necessary, immediate action will be taken by the ILEPA. Community water supplies already routinely test the potable water supply for a wide variety of contaminants which include but not limited to pesticides, volatile organic chemicals, disinfection by-products, inorganic chemicals and coliform bacteria.  Should special testing of community water supplies for other contaminants be necessary, immediate action will be taken by the ILEPA.

Recycling Flood Waste and Sandbags:
Uncontaminated sand and sandbags can be recycled for other household and industrial uses, or they can be used as fill for roads and holes. Common sense should be used. For example, sand that may have come into contact with sewage should not be used in children’s sand boxes. Reuses that do not involve direct ongoing human contact, such as construction uses involving foundation backfilling or pipe bedding, are acceptable. Sand that is visually contaminated, such as with oil or fecal matter should be disposed as waste. Visual inspection of the sand as well as local responder knowledge can be used to assist in determining if sand has come into contact with flood waters. When in doubt, it is generally safer to assume that the sand has come into contact with flood waters.

Household appliances, also known as “white goods,” can be recycled by taking them to a local scrap dealer, who will remove potentially harmful components. For information on scrap dealers in your area check the yellow pages or call a local appliance retailer.

Tires must be disposed at a registered commercial processing facility. Units of local government may accumulate used and waste tires recovered via flood cleanup. It is important to drain all used tires collected from the flood of standing water and to store them in a manner that prevents the further accumulation of water. Contact the ILEPA at 217-785-8604 for further information and possible assistance. In addition, other recyclable materials should be separated and recycled such as glass, metal debris and plastics.

Electronic waste:
A new law went into effect at the beginning of 2012 that bans most electronics items from landfills. You will find information on the link  http://www.epa.state.il.us/land/electronic-waste-recycling/index.html. A list of retailers that take certain electronics can be found at  http://epadata.epa.state.il.us/land/eWaste/crr-list.asp.

Household Hazardous Flood Waste Disposal: 
Household hazardous waste (HHW) and other chemical products should be disposed of properly to avoid health and pollution risks. HHW should be placed in plastic bags and left with traditional household garbage at the curb for normal collection.

Sealed Drum and Propane Tank Disposal: 
Sealed drums, propane tanks and other pressurized gas cylinders with unknown contents should not be handled by untrained persons. Please notify the ILEPA Office of Emergency Response at 217-782-3637 or Illinois Emergency Management Agency at 800-782-7860. To dispose of propane tanks, contact the nearest propane distributor. Propane tanks have serial numbers that will allow for identification of tank owners and locations.

Land filling Flood Waste: 
You may dispose of the following items in your local landfill: lumber, trees, branches, brush, sand, sandbags, plastic sheeting, shingles, insulation, animal carcasses, grain, animal feed, food, carpet, furniture, metal debris and machinery.

Appliances cannot be disposed of in landfills, because components on the appliances that contain Freon, mercury, PCBs and other hazardous chemical must first be removed by licensed professionals. Therefore, household appliances must be recycled through a local scrap dealer.

Burning Flood Waste:
Tree limbs, brush, natural wood and plant debris can be burned on site or at a community site under the supervision of a local government without a permit. Agricultural waste (bags, cartons, dry bedding, structural materials and crop residue) can also be burned on site without a permit.

Burning clean wood, building debris, and lumber does require a permit from the ILEPA. The Open Burning Permit Application Form can be faxed to 217-524-5023 and is listed on the agency’s website at:  http://www.epa.state.il.us/air/permits/openburn/index.html

Units of local government can apply for multiple burn locations under a single permit application and are encouraged to do so.
Applicants other than units of government can also apply for multiple burn locations under a single permit application if the applicant provides proof along with the application that the proposed activities have been coordinated with the unit of local government and the local Fire Protection District.

The ILEPA typically issues these permits within 1 – 2 days after receipt of the application; however, upon request the ILEPA can expedite permits in the event of an emergency. These permits are typically issued for a short period (e.g., covering 30 to 90 days) after which time they expire.

General Conditions for the Open Burning of Disaster Debris
1) Coordinate the burn with the local Fire Protection District.
2) Conduct the burn when the wind is blowing away from roadways, railroad tracks, airfields, and populated areas. 
3) Provide on-site supervision of the burn location.
4) Burning should occur only from approximately 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. to get the best natural smoke dispersion conditions.

Burning of asbestos-containing materials and tires is NOT allowed under any circumstances.

Call Floyd McKinney at (217) 782-2113 for additional information or to request an expedited permit in the event of an emergency. In the event that Floyd McKinney is not available, a secondary contact in the event of an emergency is John Blazis at (217) 524-0636.

Oil leakage from downed power poles:
After storms, electrical transformers on downed power poles have the potential to leak oil into the environment. Some transformers still contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are persistent and toxic environmental pollutants. If you see downed transformers, please alert local officials who can then contact the appropriate electrical utility company about disposal or cleanup. If you observe leaks from a transformer, you may contact an Illinois EPA Regional office during business hours at  http://www.epa.state.il.us/land/regions/ or call Illinois Emergency Management Agency at 800-782-7860 or 217-782-7860.

Since last Thursday, Governor Quinn has surveyed damage on the ground and from the air and met with local officials in some of the hardest hit communities, including Elmhurst, Des Plaines, Marseilles, Ottawa, River Forest, Bellwood, Riverside, Moline, Quincy, Bartonville and North Aurora.

In addition to Ogle and Stark counties, the following counties have been declared state disaster areas: Adams, Brown, Bureau, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Champaign, Cook, DeKalb, Douglas, DuPage, Fulton, Greene, Grundy, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Jersey, Jo Daviess, Kane, Kendall, Knox, Lake, LaSalle, Livingston, Marshall, Mason, McDonough, McHenry, Mercer, Morgan, Peoria, Pike, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Scott, Tazewell, Whiteside, Will, Winnebago and Woodford.

The state disaster declaration makes available a wide variety of state resources that can help affected communities respond and recover from flooding. It came after assessments by emergency officials and the governor, and begins the process of securing federal relief.

Governor Quinn activated the State Incident Response Center on Thursday to coordinate the deployment of state personnel and assets to assist local governments in the affected areas. The state’s flood response is coordinated by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. For more information, go to Ready.Illinois.gov.

Source: illinois.gov