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Crews Working to Remove Hazardous Materials from Flood Areas

By Daniel Cherry | Published 22 Jun 2011 12:25am | comments

Hazardous waste is a concern along the river as residents are able to go back to their homes. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports on cleanup efforts to keep people and the environment safe from the hazardous materials.

The Tunica Cutoff was, at one point, under about a dozen feet of water. Now that the flood is gone the lucky ones are gutting their houses...the others are having to demolish their homes.

That means there are huge amounts of hazardous materials in the cutoff either dropped off by the flood or being removed from homes. James Maclellan with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality says it's important to get the dangerous materials first.

"We're picking up things like gas cans, drums, paint cans, insecticides, pesticides. All the stuff that could leak out over time. Even though there's a lot of debris around here, that stuff would present problems down the road."

Everyone wants to get rid of hazardous waste, but some aren't happy with the pace. Trey McKinnon lives in the Cutoff. He says people in his community have barely had enough time to go through their homes.

"It's just tough. You go through all this and you're worried about all this and then somebody comes up and says you've got to get all this stuff up, pretty much, now or you're going to get fined. All the people back here, they've been through enough."

The Department of Environmental Quality did issue warnings for residents to remove hazards before the flood, but McKinnon says some doubted the flood projections.

"You know, people like us, we did, but I'm sure other people didn't. They've been all right in that respect so far. They gave us a heads up and told us what to do, but a lot of people back here didn't believe them."

The MDEQ will have drop off sites all down the river in the coming weeks for hazardous materials. They're urging residents to separate hazardous waste from the building debris to both speed up the process and to increase safety.






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