Barge loaded with Sandy debris heads to upstate landfill

Superstorm Sandy debris being loaded into a barge Superstorm Sandy debris being loaded into a barge that will take it to a disposal site upstate (Dec. 6, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

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The first barge loaded with household debris collected from Long Beach after superstorm Sandy is to move upstate Friday, where the load will be taken to a landfill.

Trucks on Wednesday started hauling wallboard, mattresses, photos, and more from huge piles at Nickerson Beach Park to an industrial site in Oceanside. The barge was loaded Thursday and is scheduled to travel Barnums Island Channel to Reynolds Channel and the Atlantic Ocean before turning up the Hudson River.

The debris will be dropped at a port in Coeymans, south of Albany, and taken to local landfills, state Department of Environmental Conservation officials said.

Work was hampered by high winds Wednesday, which delayed the arrival of a large boat-based crane that was to be used to move debris onto the barge, said James Cervino, on-site environmental manager for Stony Creek Services, the Oceanside firm overseeing the barge operation.

Instead, crews used a land-based crane to fill the 250-foot-long barge on one side before a tugboat moved it around, opening up the other side for loading. The large crane was expected to arrive this morning and increase efficiency. "In 24 hours we filled one barge and we'll be doubling it," said Cervino. Removing all of the debris could take at least two months, officials have said.

The household waste is made up of items damaged by the storm, including large and small pieces. Photos, stuffed animals, books and even a wedding dress have been found in the piles. "This is just like your house," Cervino said of the mix of debris. "Just picture if your home were demolished."

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A DEC representative watched the barge-loading operations as did members of Freeport-based Operation Stop Polluting Littering And Save Harbors, who were initially concerned the operation would add trash to the waterways.

"Some of our people have been monitoring the site and we feel comfortable with the plan," group president Rob Weltner said. "We're very happy so far. We'll keep watching it."

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