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As mountains of debris pile up, environmental concerns arise

The Army Corps of Engineers estimates more than 30 million cubic yards of debris will be collected.
Fort Myers Beach debris
Posted at 6:42 PM, Dec 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-09 20:11:29-05

Mountains of debris have popped up in dozens of temporary locations across southwest Florida.

The Army Corps of Engineers estimates more than 30 million cubic yards of debris will be collected.

In Fort Myers alone, where crews have worked around-the-clock to collect the garbage, there’s enough trash to fill 96 football fields.

“That’s an equivalent of about 15 years of regular debris. That’s 15 years in one event,” said Dr. Serge Thomas, a professor at the Water School at Florida Gulf Coast University.

“It accumulates in the landfill, and you exacerbate the place. The landfill is finite and you’re bringing in 15 years all at once.”

Space is at a premium.

Lee County reopened the Gulf Coast Landfill which had been closed for more than 15 years.

Residents there told Fox 4 they were concerned about the environmental impacts.

“The main problem in Florida that you want to prevent is to have the leeching reach the ground water,” Thomas said.

Thomas says, thankfully, the area hasn’t experienced an onslaught of rain which should help the leeching concerns.

County officials say the landfills have technology to capture much of the noxious gases that can be released.

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