Lee County, Florida, reopens landfill to aid Hurricane Ian cleanup

Houston-based WM will operate the landfill for 18 to 24 months and accept only C&D materials.

storm debris
Lee County, Florida, has reopened a shuttered landfill to provide extra space for C&D debris from Hurricane Ian.
Photo courtesy of Dreamstime

A landfill closed in 2007 in Fort Myers, Florida, is being temporarily reopened to assist with the disposal of debris from Hurricane Ian, which made landfall Sept. 28 on the central Gulf Coast of Florida.

The Lee County Board of Commissioners voted Nov. 1 to dispose of Lee County storm debris at the Gulf Coast Landfill, which WM, Houston, will operate for 18 to 24 months, says the county in a news release.

Commissioners approved reopening the landfill 4-1, with Commission Chairman Cecil Pendergrass dissenting.   

Reopening the landfill will expedite storm debris collection because its location minimizes travel distance for debris-hauling trucks. Other disposal sites will continue to be used, as well. The Gulf Coast Landfill is closer to many of the debris management sites than other disposal options in Hendry and Charlotte counties and use of the site can reduce truck travel time by as much as 33 percent, says the county. County leaders say they hope to maximize collections during the postlandfall weeks and during the FEMA-reimbursement period.

Related stories: National Storm Recovery expands wood recycling efforts in Florida | FleetGenius launches Hurricane Ian relief efforts

The landfill will only accept Hurricane Ian construction and demolition (C&D) storm debris—not household garbage or yard waste—on an emergency basis, according to Lee County’s website on storm recovery.

To minimize inconvenience to neighbors, WM plans to build berms to the west and southeast of the landfill to create visual buffers and will limit operations to daylight hours. Landfill-bound traffic will be along major roads, not through neighborhoods.

Lee County’s solid waste division has hosted two community meetings and has set a third for Nov. 10 at 4 p.m. at the Club at Gateway Greens Fazio Room, 12091 Gateway Greens Dr., Fort Myers. The meeting will provide information to the public about how the landfill will be used and includes informational stations to attendees can come and go as they please.

Regular recycling and household garbage collection have resumed, and homeowners who cannot self-haul storm debris can place it on the curb separate from regular waste and recycling materials.

The county asks that residents and businesses separate storm debris into piles of yard waste, C&D materials and appliances.

For those who have the ability to haul their own storm debris, Lee County has set up four drop-off locations. Businesses are asked to transport storm debris to a waste-to-energy site where they will be charged by weight.

As of Nov. 4, Lee County had collected more than 2 million cubic yards of storm debris, including 613,706 cubic yards of C&D materials and more than 1.3 million cubic yards of yard waste.

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