(JACKSON, Miss.) – The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) issued debris guidance Monday for residents and business owners in flood-impacted areas cleaning up flooded homes and businesses. In many cases, the debris may contain hazardous materials or contaminants mixed with other non-hazardous debris items. Non-hazardous wastes and debris will generally need to be disposed at a municipal solid waste landfill or a Class I rubbish disposal site or recycled at a legitimate recycling facility, where appropriate. Household hazardous materials may need to be managed and collected separately from other debris for disposal.
While cleaning up the flood debris, MDEQ requests following these general guidelines:
- Generally, most structural components and contents of a home or building that have been contacted by flood waters will need to be disposed. Structural components will include sheetrock/drywall, carpeting, wood components, electrical components, flooring, doors, and other physical parts of the structure. The contents of homes and buildings will include household furnishings, appliances, electronics, clothing, food items and other personal items. Personal items contacted by flood waters such as medications, cosmetics, and other similar personal grooming items should not be used and should also be disposed.
- Residents should NOT burn flood debris from houses, businesses and other structures. Open burning of such structural type debris is prohibited by state and federal laws and regulations.
- It is recommended that people wear protective clothing and gloves when handling flood debris because these materials may have become contaminated by raw sewage and/or hazardous chemicals released by the flood waters.
- If there is standing water or residual mud in an area when removing debris, be cautious as there may be sharp objects or other hazards exposed that are not visible.
- If cleaning up a building that has been significantly flooded, be on the lookout for snakes and rodents that may have taken refuge in the structure during the flood. Snakes tend to find high and dry hiding spots, such as an attic or the top of ceiling tiles while rodents are more prone to be found in the walls and attic spaces.
- If a building or structure was built prior to or during the 1970s, some building materials — pipe insulation, electrical insulation, flooring, ceiling tiles, roofing materials, and siding — may contain asbestos. Caution should be used in demolishing and/or renovating these structures so as to not crush or grind up the asbestos containing materials. (Check MDEQ’s guidance on asbestos)
- Segregate debris according to how the items will be disposed or recycled. Contact local city or county leaders for direction on whether and how the clean-up and collection of flood debris may occur in your community. FEMA and MEMA have released a diagram (see below) depicting how communities may ask residents to separate their wastes.
- Dispose of the debris in the manner that is developed for your community. This may mean hauling the debris directly to a permitted municipal or rubbish landfill or to a local collection site or placing the debris near the public road for collection. A listing of the permitted landfills in Mississippi may be found at the following link: Mississippi Solid Waste Facility Listing
Additional information may be forthcoming in your community about how debris will be managed and collected.
- Collect and contain household hazardous waste materials (such as those listed below) in their original container, if possible, or in a plastic bin or tub for disposal at a household hazardous waste collection site or event. Do not mix these materials in the same container. Contact your local government to determine if a household hazardous collection site or event will be available in your area. If such events are not available locally, please contact MDEQ solid waste staff to determine an appropriate method of disposing of the material. Household hazardous wastes would include the following types of household items:
- Fuels (gasoline, propane, diesel, kerosene, etc.)
- Fuel Containers or Canisters
- Motor and Hydraulic Oils
- Paints, stains, and varnishes
- Paint thinner
- Other cleaning supplies and chemicals
- Pesticides, herbicides, and other farm/lawn chemicals
- Household thermostats and thermometers
For more information or assistance, please contact MDEQ’s Solid Waste staff at 601-961-5171 or access: www.deq.state.ms.us/solidwaste.