HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is reminding homeowners how to properly dispose of and process debris left behind from Hurricane Sandy.

"If homeowners encounter debris from the hurricane in or near creeks and streams, it can be removed without obtaining one of our Water Obstruction and Encroachment permits," DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. "The hurricane affected us all in some way, and DEP is helping homeowners and businesses assure a safe and effective cleanup by offering guidance."

Even though small debris can be removed without a permit, large woody debris that requires operating machinery in the stream to remove it, or removal of a gravel bar, will require written authorization from DEP.

Property owners can remove trees and tree limbs wherever possible to protect their own property as well as public roads and bridges that could be damaged. Owners can cut up trees in place and remove them from the creek, or pull the tree trunks and branches out of the water before cutting them up.

To dispose of limbs and woody debris, property owners are encouraged to utilize local composting services.

To assist communities that have been affected by the recent storm events, DEP is temporarily waiving certain disposal fees and waste vehicle registration requirements and providing flexibility in other aspects of waste management to facilitate the collection and disposal of storm debris.

The requirement for a waste hauler to display an authorized Act 90 sticker on the hauling vehicle has been temporarily waived statewide to allow facility operators to accept storm debris waste from vehicles without Act 90 authorizations.

DEP is also waiving the state portion of the tipping fees for the disposal of storm debris; authorizing extended operational hours at landfills; allowing the use of temporary waste staging areas for collecting waste prior to transportation to disposal facilities; and authorizing increased daily volumes of waste that facilities can receive and dispose.

These provisions will be effective until Jan. 31, 2013, unless no longer necessary or extended by DEP.

Items that may have been affected by flooding, such as propane tanks, refrigerators, heating oil tanks, electronic equipment, tires, gasoline or paints should be separated and stored in a safe, dry location for separate collection in the future. This will allow haulers to focus on removing the most problematic debris and waste.

Homeowners, business owners and municipal officials who have questions about cleaning up storm debris should contact the DEP regional office that serves their area. To find that list, visit www.dep.state.pa.us [1] and click on "Regional Resources."

For more information on storm recovery, click the "Responding to Hurricane Sandy" button at www.dep.state.pa.us [1]. Fact sheets on debris removal, the latest news related to DEP's response to Hurricane Sandy and a list of public events canceled because of the storm are available there.