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Guidance on Safely Cleaning Up Mud, Silt, and Flood Debris 

For Immediate Release – July 28, 2023 

Tim Cropley, Spill Program Manager
Department of Environmental Conservation
802- 249-5346, 

Guidance on Safely Cleaning Up Mud, Silt, and Flood Debris 

Montpelier, Vt. – As Vermont starts to recover from this month’s severe flooding, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has issued more guidance around safely cleaning up mud, silt, and other flood debris. Flooding caused many basements statewide to fill with water and, in some cases, cause a release of oil from heating oil tanks in the basement.

Call the 24-Hour HAZMAT Hotline at 800-641-5005 to report the following situations:
If you see oil or petroleum floating on the water in a basement or a container.
If silt or mud is contaminated with any petroleum, oil, or other hazardous material.
Call DEC at 802-828-1138 or the HAZMAT Hotline at 800-641-5005 if your heating oil tank has water in it or has become unstable. DEC can help get a contractor out to assist with your tank.

DEC can help direct contractors to assist with the disposal of contaminated silt or mud and the pump-out of basements and containers. Basements with oil and water should only be pumped out to the ground surface outside after consulting with the DEC. Learn more about safely pumping out basements.

If contractors or vac trucks are not available to remove the oil from basement water first, DEC will work with you to provide guidance on how to pump the water from the top down to ensure the oil is removed first followed by water only.

After pumping out your basement, use gloves, eye protection, masks, and other protective gear to clean up any mud, silt, or other flood debris. If any debris is covered in oil (such as furniture, wood, sheetrock, or other items), the material should be removed, put onto a plastic layer, and covered in an additional plastic layer. These materials can be disposed of as solid waste.

Any liquid with oil in it – including liquid that collects on the plastic layers as noted above – should be put into a container (such as a bucket with a lid) and disposed of as household hazardous waste. Contact your Solid Waste District or town at to learn about household hazardous waste services. Flood damaged appliances, electronics, batteries, and tires can be brought to most local transfer stations for safe disposal and recycling.

For non-contaminated or pathogen-contaminated mud or silt, contact a local septic hauler for disposal services. Find more information about safe flood debris cleanup.

For more information on flood recovery resources from the Agency of Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Conservation, Fish and Wildlife Department, or the Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation, visit


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