Good Question: After the flooding, what do you do with those sandbags?

May 09, 2017 06:19 AM

Thousands of sandbags are being used to protect homes from flooding right now but what do you do with them when they are no longer needed? That's the subject of this week's Good Question report with Pat Taney.

We went to Greece and state officials to get an answer. So far the town of Greece has handed out more than 60,000 sand bags. Town officials are now working with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for a plan for residents to follow to get rid of them all.

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"We want to make sure that residents are disposing of them properly," said Greece Town Supervisor Bill Reilich. 

The good news, at this point, it should not be too difficult. We reached out to the D.E.C. and were told that most residents can slit the bags, pour the sand into the lake and throw away the empty bag in the trash for pickup.

That plan may change, depending on if any of the flood water mixes with contaminants or sewage. If bags have been contaminated there are other steps you must follow.

This is exactly what the D.E.C. told Pat in a statement for proper environmental disposal:

  • Sandbags that have contacted floodwater and are contaminated with raw sewage, industrial chemicals, petroleum products, etc. must be disposed of at a municipal solid waste landfill.  The DEC would consider the use of sand from the sandbags as an alternative daily cover if requested by the landfill.
  • Sandbags that have not come into contact with contaminated floodwater can be stored for reuse or can be debagged; the uncontaminated sand can be used as fill or aggregate in upland areas, and the bags can stored for reuse or disposed at a municipal solid waste landfill.  Placement of uncontaminated sand on shorelines areas is acceptable, but placement in or alongside streams, tributaries, wetlands, or environmentally sensitive areas is restricted. 

So to recap: Bags not contaminated? Slit, Pour, and Throw away the empty bag.

Contaminated bag: Contact your local solid waste landfill and dispose of the filled bag there.


Pat Taney

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