Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Storm Debris Management Guidelines

Storm Debris Management Guidelines

The following table provides guidance on the proper management of various types of debris that could be generated from natural disasters and/or major storm events.

Debris Type Recommended
Other Options More Information
Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) See ACM Disaster Guidance ACM Disaster Guidance (PDF, 54 KB)
Asian Long-horned Beetle (ALB) Debris Chip ALB host trees to less than 1 inch in two dimensions. Use as mulch/erosion control/bulking agent within quarantine area. Chips from wood that is not infested can be used outside quarantine area with Ag & M approval. Dispose on-site
Use chips from wood that is not infested as fuel at an approved facility with Ag & M approval.

NYS Asian Long-horned Beetle Guidance (Leaving DEC's website)
USDA Plant Health: Asian Long-horned Beetle Guidance
(Leaving DEC's website)
USDA Asian Long-Horned Beetle Guidance (PDF, 7.84 mB) )
(Leaving DEC's website. Note: this is a large file which may take a moment to download.)

DEC Asian Long-horned Beetle Guidance

Dead Animals Compost on-site or at an accessible location in the area MSW Landfill Natural Rendering (Leaving DEC's website)
Electronic Waste (E-waste) Consumers may segregate & recycle electronic waste in accordance with the NYS Electronic Equipment Recycling & Reuse Act. A list of registered E-waste collectors can be found under More Information in the right-hand column.

Check with your local municipality for additional information and other alternatives.
In extreme storm conditions, federal, state and/or local emergency responders may arrange for special e-waste management services. New York State Electronic Equipment Information
Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Debris Chip EAB host trees to less than 1 inch in two dimensions. Compost in accordance with USDA criteria. Use as mulch/erosion control/bulking agent within quarantine area or outside quarantine area with Ag & M approval. Dispose on-site
Use chips as fuel at an approved facility with Ag & M approval.
Food Spoilage Compost either on-site or at existing compost facility MSW Landfill
Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Store in a controlled area until it can be taken to a HHW facility or HHW collection event. Contact your local municipality for information on collection events. In extreme storm conditions, federal, state and/or local emergency responders may arrange for special HHW management services. Household Hazardous Waste
Land Clearing Debris
Grind or chip on-site.
Use as mulch/erosion control/bulking agent.
Dispose on-site.
Use chips as fuel at an approved facility.
Composting Information
Oil-Contaminated Debris

Debris contaminated with : Virgin #2, #4, or #6 fuel oil, fuel oil tank bottom waste, diesel fuel, crude oil, and gasoline.
Waste-to-Energy Facility
(contact facility to determine acceptable wastes)
MSW Landfill Call Spills Hotline 1-800-457-7362

Chemical and Petroleum Spills

Proper Management of Spill Residuals and Debris (PDF) (218 KB)
Sandbags used in shoreline stabilization or flood protection techniques

Sandbags which have contacted floodwater and are contaminated with raw sewage, industrial chemicals, petroleum products, etc. must be disposed of at a municipal solid waste landfill.

Sandbags which have not come into contact with floodwater can be stored for reuse or can be debagged.

The transport of contaminated sandbags is not a regulated activity under the 6 NYCRR Part 364 Waste Transporter Regulations and therefore does not require a Part 364 permit or registration.

Contaminated sand from sandbags could be used as alternative daily cover at an MSW landfill if approved by the NYSDEC Division of Materials Management. Shoreline Stabilization

Shoreline Stabilization Techniques

Flood Preparedness

Flood Response and Recovery

Utility Poles Reuse
(reuse of utility poles treated with creosote is limited unless the DEC commissioner grants a waiver from the Creosote Phase-Out Law)
MSW or C&D landfill Creosote

Lumber Pressure Treated With Chromated Copper Arsenate
White Goods and Automobiles White goods (such as large appliances) and automobiles should be moved to an authorized staging area. Recycled as scrap metal. Appliances

Vehicle Dismantling

The Department's Division of Materials Management recognizes the need for communities to perform efficient and timely cleanup of debris generated by natural disasters and/or major storm events. As a general policy, the Department recommends that when possible, debris or other municipal solid wastes resulting from such events, be shipped from the point of origin directly to authorized recycling, reuse, transfer/processing or disposal facilities. If possible, those responsible for cleanup should first contact the Regional Materials Management Contact in the impacted Region for information on available solid waste management facilities in the immediate affected area. If local communication is not possible, the State Emergency Management Office at the State Emergency Coordination Center (SECC) should be contacted for a list of these facilities which will be provided to them by the Department's Bureau of Permitting and Planning.

Based on past experience with disaster management, it is apparent that local municipalities that have an Emergency Debris Management Plan in place are able to manage their emergency response in a more comprehensive and coordinated manner and are able to address recovery and clean up faster and more efficiently than those without plans. With that in mind, the Department developed an Emergency Disaster Debris Management Plan Tool Kit (580 KB, PDF) (Tool Kit) to assist municipalities in planning for such disasters. The Tool Kit includes a number of sections that we believe may be helpful to municipalities in developing such a plan including:

  • Department's Emergency Debris Planning Guidance Document;
  • Department's Speed Up Your Cleanup handout and Garbage Collection Delay Fact Sheet;
  • Guidance on estimating the acreage needed to temporarily stage collected debris;
  • Frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding storing debris in a TDMA;
  • Guidance on perimeter controls for stormwater management; and
  • Temporary Debris Management Area(s).

We hope this information will assist municipalities in dealing with emergency responses. If there is additional guidance that communities would like included, please notify the Department's Division of Materials Management.

Where possible, the Department encourages the recycling and beneficial use of all solid wastes including solid wastes generated as a result of a natural disaster. In addition, proper attention to the types and appropriate separation of debris needs to be considered. Wastes which are considered exempt should be separated from those which are regulated whenever possible. Final management and/or disposal costs can thus be greatly reduced while ensuring that all disaster-related solid wastes are properly managed. For instance, significant volumes of tree and limb debris can be chipped into mulch or donated as firewood to avoid expensive disposal costs and the related consumption of valuable landfill air space if mixed with solid wastes. As noted below, communities can effectively collect, store and process tree and limb debris within the impacted community without need for Department permitting. This, however, does not include the burning of tree and limb waste materials. Burning of debris requires special permits which may not be attainable in certain areas of the State due to concern for air quality and public safety.

In the event that solid wastes cannot be shipped directly from the point of origin to authorized transfer/processing or disposal facilities, there are several options available. Part 360 contains a number of regulatory exemptions for the management of land-clearing debris wastes (i.e., tree and limb generated as storm debris) as addressed above. Provisions also exist in Part 360 for the development of new registered facilities which can be used after major storm events for temporary storage of certain types of storm debris. Additionally, temporary storage operations can also be conducted under Emergency Authorizations or General Permits. Such authorizations have been used without known adverse impacts to the environment or public safety during each of the events which occurred in 1998. The discussions below provide specific guidance on all of the options discussed above.

1. Existing Disposal and Transfer/Processing Sites

Individuals are advised to check with the Regional Materials Management Contact located in the appropriate Regional Office for information on solid waste management facilities in the immediate area. Also, individuals should contact the disposal/handling facility regarding tipping fees and their ability/willingness to accept the waste in question. Some of the municipally-owned facilities may only accept wastes generated within their municipal boundaries.

2. Exemptions

The following are examples of exempt solid waste activities for which no permits are required:

Land Clearing Debris

Exempt Wood Processing Facilities

Facilities that receive and process (not dispose) only land-clearing debris are exempt from solid waste regulation [360-16.1(b)].

Solid Waste Cessation

The following items are not considered solid waste: unadulterated wood, wood chips, or bark from land-clearing operations, when these materials are placed in commerce for service as mulch, landscaping, animal bedding, erosion control, wood fuel production, and bulking agent at a compost facility [360-1.15(b)(3)]. This exemption does not apply to the disposal of such material.

Exempt Disposal Facilities

Landfills used for the disposal of trees, stumps, yard waste and wood chips generated from these materials are exempt when origin and disposal of such waste occur on properties under the same ownership or control.

3. Individual Emergency Authorizations

For those activities which are not exempt, for example, temporary storage areas for construction and demolition (C&D) debris which is not generated on-site, authorization can be made on a site-specific basis by appropriate NYSDEC Regional staff. This can be done under the provisions of "Individual Emergency Authorizations" pursuant to the provisions of 6 NYCRR Part 621, section 621.12. These provisions allow temporary storage of storm debris for a limited duration only (maximum time is 60 days) until arrangements can be made for waste transportation to either treatment or final disposal facilities. Contact the appropriate Regional Permit Administrator for further assistance with such authorizations.

In addition, a temporary emergency waste transporter permit can be authorized to allow for the transportation of regulated wastes such as raw sewage, septage, sludge from a sewage treatment plant, waste tires, waste oil or industrial-commercial waste including hazardous waste and medical waste. Contact the appropriate Regional Permit Administrator for further assistance with such authorizations or contact the Waste Transporter Permit Program at (518) 402-8792.

4. General Permits

General Permits for temporary Storage of storm debris are available from the Regional Office's Division of Environmental Permitting. This provision is typically employed when a State of Emergency or Disaster is declared by the either the Governor or President. On matters regarding issues relative to the need for emergency General Permits, you may contact the appropriate Regional Permit Administrators.

5. Registered Disposal Facilities

Part 360 also contains a streamlined registration process for landfills that only accept land-clearing debris for disposal and that are three acres or less in area, provided the facility is not located in Nassau or Suffolk County. The registration process, however, does specify that the registered landfill must be operated in compliance with all the applicable requirements [360-7.2]. The appropriate Regional Materials Management person should be contacted for guidance on the use of these provisions.

6. Special Concerns

With emergency events, the Department has established response guidance based upon recent experience for the following areas of concern:

Asbestos Contaminated Material (ACM) - Significant storm events can result in the generation of large amounts of ACM. Cleanup (and repair) crews and emergency response officials should be made aware of asbestos removal and disposal requirements. This guidance is designed to provide a streamlined summary for proper handling of ACM generated during these storm events.

Asian Long-horned Beetle infestation - There are several areas in New York City and Long Island that are designated by the Department of Agriculture and Markets as emergency quarantine areas, pursuant to Section 139.2 of the Agriculture and Markets Law of New York State. Recent storm events resulted in disposal issues for trees and debris from areas under quarantine for Asian Long-horned Beetle infestation. All businesses, municipalities or individuals working inside the quarantine areas are required to be under a compliance agreement with the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets for the proper handling and disposition of host material. Under the terms of the quarantine, there are also regulated articles within the quarantined area that require special handling. Regulated articles include all life stages of the Asian Long-horned Beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) and host material living, dead, cut or fallen, inclusive of nursery stock, logs, green lumber, firewood, stumps, roots, branches and debris of one-half inch or more of certain genera.

Under compliance agreements for the movement of host trees or debris generated from tree trimming, removals, disposal or sales, it is mandatory for all businesses, municipalities or individuals to have crew leaders and/or supervisors attend an Asian Long-horned Beetle Training Workshop. Regulated materials are to be cut, chipped, and/or incinerated and removed in accordance with approved disposal procedures and practices identified by federal and state officials.

For more information about the program, you should contact the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets' Division of Plant Industry at (518) 457-2087. Additional information can be found on the DEC's Asian Longhorned Beetle and invasive species webpages and on the Department of Agriculture and Markets webpage (link leaves DEC's website).

Dead Animals - Emergency storm events can result in significant loss of livestock, pets and natural wildlife. Part 360 contains provisions and exemptions for the disposal of dead animals. Paragraph 360-1.7(b)(3) allows disposal areas for animal carcasses generated on a farm to be located within the property boundaries of that farm. Please contact the Department of Agriculture & Markets, Division of Animal Industry at 518-457-3502 for further regulation/guidance pertaining to disposal of dead farm animals on the property where they were raised or kept for farm purposes. Paragraph 360-1.7(b)(10) allows the disposal of road-killed animals within the right-of-way on local roads and State and County highways under the jurisdiction/ownership of government agencies.

Electronic Waste (E-waste) - Emergency storm events can result in the damage and loss of various electronic equipment, such as computers, computer peripherals, televisions, small scale servers and small electronic equipment. Consumers can segregate & recycle storm damaged electronic waste (E-waste) in accordance with the NYS Electronic Equipment Recycling & Reuse Act. Consumers may store E-waste, if intact, without harm and wait until equipment can be properly disposed of. Consumers can also contact their municipality for more information regarding additional recycling/reuse/disposal options which may be available locally. Reuse of working E-waste items is always an option and these items can be donated to various organizations. In extreme storm conditions, Federal, State and/or Local emergency responders may arrange for special e-waste management services, such as curbside collection/removal and/or drop off locations. In these special circumstances, all relevant information, including instructions and pick-up schedules will be developed and disseminated to the affected parties.

Emerald Ash Borer Quarantines - State quarantines are in place encompassing the majority of western New York, as well as Albany, Greene, Orange and Ulster Counties that restrict the movement of ash trees, ash products and firewood from all wood species in order to limit the potential introduction of emerald ash borer (EAB) to other areas of the state.

These quarantines restrict the intrastate movement of certain "regulated articles." The order specifically defines regulated articles as:

  • Entire ash trees of any size, inclusive of nursery stock
  • Any part of ash trees, including leaves, bark, stumps, limbs, branches, and roots
  • Ash lumber or ash logs of any length
  • Any item made from or containing ash wood
  • Any article, product or means of conveyance determined by APHIS, NYSDAM or the Department to present a risk of spreading the EAB infestation
  • Firewood from any tree species
  • Wood chips and bark mulch from any tree species, larger than 1 inch in two dimensions, whether composted or uncomposted

New York's order prohibits the movement of regulated articles beyond the quarantined counties without certification or compliance agreements issued by NYS DAM or USDA APHIS. The state order also restricts the movement of the regulated wood products into or through the quarantine district by requiring several provisions including, but not limited to documentation listing the origin and destination of shipments, and prohibiting transporters from unnecessarily stopping while traveling through the quarantine district.

Additional information about invasive species can be found here.

Food Spoilage - Communities are encouraged to establish provisions for the disposal of food spoilage caused by sustained power outages. Food losses can be prevalent during times of prolonged power outages and the spoiled food can present an immediate threat to public health if provisions are not promptly made for its safe handling and disposal. Communities can establish special emergency procedures for the collection and/or drop off points for spoiled food waste in the event that power outages exceed an established duration. This would help minimize the impacts caused by the untimely removal of food wastes in areas of widespread damage.

Household Hazardous Waste Collection Stations - Previous storm events have revealed the need to alert debris removal crews on the need for proper separation of Household Hazardous Waste when removing extensively damaged structures. These debris removal crews often find themselves in situations where the content and nature of household/commercial or industrial wastes are unknown. Many households commonly contain numerous solvents, chemicals, paints, heavy metals, pesticides, compressed gases and petroleum products that are hazardous to human health if not handled properly. Additionally, many commercial establishments or local industries contain similar hazardous materials which raise concern if not properly handled upon discovery.

Proper precautions should be identified and implemented whereby cleanup crews can establish a controlled area to temporarily store household hazardous waste until a specialized contractor could be brought in to deal with the material. Many communities may have access to such contractors from conducting household hazardous waste cleanup days. In certain instances, organizations such as the National Guard are sometimes called in on debris cleanup detail and may have lists of contractors and funding abilities for such services. Household Hazardous Waste Facilities have been established for the collection and storage of Household Hazardous Waste. Any questions on determining if waste is hazardous should be directed to this Department at (518) 402-9543.

Oil-Contaminated Debris

Oil-contaminated debris or material contaminated with other petroleum products should be segregated from other types of debris prior to disposal, and should be stored in a well-ventilated area. If stored outdoors, piles should be covered to keep precipitation from contaminating soil or water. Some oil-contaminated debris generated by households may be acceptable at a municipal waste combustor. Contact the specific facility to determine if your debris can be accepted. If not, oil-contaminated debris can be disposed of in a municipal solid waste landfill.

Sandbags Used in Shoreline Stabilization or Flood Protection Techniques

Sandbags which 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 Department would consider the use of sand from the sandbags as an alternative daily cover if requested by the landfill.

Sandbags which 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 be stored for reuse or disposed at a municipal solid waste landfill. Placement of uncontaminated sand in upland areas is acceptable, however placement of uncontaminated sand in or alongside waterbodies, streams, tributaries, wetlands, or environmentally sensitive areas is restricted.

The transport of contaminated sandbags is not a regulated activity under the 6 NYCRR Part 364 Waste Transporter Regulations and therefore does not require a Part 364 permit or registration.

Utility Pole/Treated Wood Reuse & Disposal - Utility poles, retaining walls and fencing made with treated wood, can all become damaged during storm events. All these materials have been treated with preservatives to increase their useful life, and must be managed properly during storm cleanup. Utility poles are often treated with creosote. Retaining walls may have been treated with creosote or other preservatives. Older wood fencing is typically treated with chromated copper arsenate, while more recently installed wood fencing is likely treated with one of a variety of other copper-based preservatives.

As of January 2008, New York State law prohibits creosote-treated lumber from being reused for other purposes such as landscaping or retaining walls. The only exception is railroads, or utility companies that maintain control or ownership of the materials. In that case the wood treated with creosote can be reused or stockpiled for re-use by those entities.

Wood treated with creosote from construction and demolition (C&D) activities can be disposed in a permitted municipal solid waste (MSW) landfill that accepts C&D debris, or at a permitted C&D debris landfill, or burned in a permitted municipal solid waste or hazardous waste combustion facility that is authorized to accept such material.

Treated wood should not be chipped into mulch or burned in fireplaces, stoves, outdoor wood-fired boilers or open fires.

White Goods and Automobiles

Equipment that has rusted or deteriorating surfaces, or if it includes flood-damaged wood/particle board or plastic laminate components should be discarded. Nonworking refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioners will need to have Freon removed by a certified technician prior to recycling. Most large appliances, particularly if they contain at least some metal, can be recycled as scrap metal once the Freon is removed.

Vehicles with minor flood or fire damage may be repairable, but as with restoring other personal belongings, time is a factor. Water damage can become irreparable in a short period. Contact your insurance company to have the vehicle examined by a professional. Both fire and water can damage electrical and mechanical systems. Sewage, sand, and other debris can harm the engine. Do not attempt to start the car until it has been examined-have the vehicle towed. Mold growth in the interior is probable in flood damaged vehicles; carpet and padding must be removed and cleaned.

Most metal scrap yards or junk auto dealers will haul nonsalvageable vehicles for recycling. Consult the telephone directory under "automobile wrecking and salvage" or "scrap metal."

To further assist you on general solid waste issues, staff in the Bureau of Solid Waste Management may be reached at (518) 402-8678.