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Sandy Storm Cleanup Starts on Fire Island

After several contract snafus, debris removal begins.

Four months after Hurricane Sandy decimated Fire Island, clean up efforts have begun.

"It is crucial that this work get under way before environmental restrictions prohibit debris removal and halt the recovery for thousands of Fire Island homeowners," Sen. Charles Schumer said in a statement released by the U.S. Army Corps. "The work will not only speed up the recovery process for homeowners but will put local businesses to work."

The Corps awarded a $10.1 million task order on February 27 to the Environmental Chemical Company of Burlingame, Calif., under the advance contracting initiative.

At least 82 percent (about $8.3 million) of the contracted work must go to local businesses. Cleanup was delayed by what the Corps described in its release as a "atypical series of contract protests."

The task order includes removing debris from right-of-way and eligible private property, transporting it off the island and disposing of it in a safe and environmentally-sound manner. It also requires the separation and disposal of construction and demolition debris, segregation of "white goods" such as refrigerators and other appliances, disposal of e-waste such as televisions and computers, disposal of vegetative debris and sifting sand that presents a public safety hazard.

"We're going to get this done as quickly and safely as we possibly can," said
Lt. Col. John Knight, commander of the Corps' New York Recovery Field Office, in the release issued March 4. "Our goal remains to finish by the end of March."

According to the Corps crews will work 12 hours a day during daylight hours, seven days a week. Debris will be transferred by barge and truck from the island for disposal or recycling. Sifted sand and chipped vegetative debris will remain on Fire Island. Contract work crews began hazardous waste inspections of the debris on March 2. Chipping trees began March 4.

Hauling debris on the beach will be restricted after March 15 due to the nesting season of the piping plover.

Nearly 1,600 Fire Island homes damaged by the storm are currently eligible for debris removal assistance. An estimated 62,000 cubic yards of debris is eligible for removal - enough to cover a football field up to three stories high.

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