Bay County Explores Options to Dispose of Millions of Cubic Yards of Vegetation Debris

BAY COUNTY, Fla. - Hurricane Michael destroyed thousands of trees across the Panhandle. Crews are still working to clean up, but where will it all go?

Since the hurricane crews across Bay County have collected more than 1.5 million cubic yards of debris.They dump it in piles and turn it into mulch. 

"A lot of the mulch sadly is going to have to be land filled. There's just too much, there's no other way to dispose of it," said Bay County Solid Waste Division Manager Glenn Ogborn.

The vegetation lands at one of the debris management sites spread throughout the county. Using the mulch as energy isn't currently an option locally because the county's waste energy facility is down. 

"It's really not optimal for fuel for the waste energy anyway, it's too dense and ground and in its raw state it's too big to burn," said Ogborn. 

The county's exploring alternative solutions.

"Some of it could be land applied. There are locations where you can spread it across a big area and it's not really considered land filling, more of a soil improvement thing where you add nutrients to the soil," said Ogborn. 

Another idea is to put mulch at various parks around the county and give it back to the public to use on their property. But mulch can't just sit around, large piles pose as a fire hazard.

"As it decays it goes through a decomposition process and part of that is it generates heat," said Ogborn.

The county hopes FEMA will help reimburse the cost of the debris collection process, a price tag likely to climb as millions more cubic yards of debris is collected over the next few months. 

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