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Sandy aftermath challenge: Clearing tons and tons of trash

BY BOB HOLT

As recovery from Hurricane Sandy continues across New Jersey, one problem is leading into another in a lot of cases.

That includes damage cleanup. Tons of trash left by the storm are becoming serious safety hazards. The immense piles of debris collected from Sandy’s destruction are putting New Jersey's landfills and incinerators over capacity.

Since the hurricane, workers in Hoboken have been hauling about 300 tons of trash a day on average, about five times their normal rate. "It's been quite a challenge," Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer said, according to USA Today. "As soon as we pick it up, there is a mountain full out there again.”

M&S Waste Services collects trash for Monmouth and Ocean County. Company president Mario Schito Jr. says the trash cleanup will take months. “You could fill up 30% of a garbage truck at one house,” he said.

The Huffington Post pointed out that all the homes and building that have been damaged in New Jersey could pose a risk to residents that is not immediately obvious. Exposure to toxins such as asbestos.

Linda Reinstein, president of the nonprofit Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, said 2,600 tons of asbestos trash came from Joplin, Missouri after the 2011 tornado, and that was a smaller area. "Do the math, and we can recognize that we have a significant public health risk with Hurricane Sandy," she said.

According to philly.com, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates that Sandy left about 7.1 million cubic yards of trash behind in New York and New Jersey, which could fill seven football stadiums.

Experts say that some hazardous materials will wind up in landfills, and some things that belong in recycling centers will be set out with regular trash. A lot of New Jersey’s trash will be shipped to states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.

 

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