job unlike any other, cleaning up the debris resulting from the Sept.
11 attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) has been an emotionally and
physically taxing task. Thankfully, many people, including Congress and
several in the waste industry, have volunteered their help.
immediately, both Houses of Congress quickly passed legislation in
September approving $40 billion in emergency aid, at least half of
which was designated for disaster recovery in New York, the Pentagon
Several organizations also responded. For
example, National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) members
volunteered to help, says David Biderman, general counsel for NSWMA,
Washington, D.C. “We have had ongoing conversations with state and
local officials regarding the final disposal sites for the debris, and
we're prepared to offer our services in any way possible,” he says.
Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), Silver Spring, Md.,
also offered support to New York City. “We were contacted by both the
Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] and the U.S. Coast Guard,”
says John Skinner, executive director and CEO. “They told us that both
areas were being treated as crime scenes, and it appeared that the
cleanup was under control with contractors that they have.”
at the WASTECON 2001 Solid Waste Exhibition held in Baltimore on Oct.
16, SWANA held a session with experts such as William L. Rathje, a
garbologist and landfill expert, plus other industry speakers to update
attendees on disaster details and provide members with plans for better
managing disaster debris in the future.
The Institute of Scrap
Recycling Industries (ISRI), Washington, D.C., also has been helping
New York City officials ensure that all recyclable material removed
from the WTC site is recycled through the proper channels, following
numerous reports that organized crime families were stealing the metal
And to further assist with cleanup efforts,
individual companies such as Marathon Equipment Co., Vernon, Ala.;
Waste Management Inc., Houston; AB Volvo, Goteborg, Sweden; IESI Corp.,
Haltom City, Texas; and Michelin North America Inc., Greenville, S.C.,
have donated money and equipment.
FEMA, Washington, D.C.,
originally took charge of cleanup assessment and provided emergency
services in the affected commercial, public and residential areas with
more than 1,650 personnel. The agency committed more than $344 million
to the response and recovery effort. But by Oct. 5, FEMA announced it
would pull its forces out of New York City, stating that the recovery
and debris removal process was under control by New York Department of
Sanitation officials and private contractors.
assigned a $125 million job to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
to oversee cleanup and an $83 million job to the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) to aid in cleanup and monitor hazardous
substances surrounding the 16-acre site.
York City has awarded contracts to two private scrap dealers to handle
50,000 tons of steel. Additional contracts are expected to be awarded
to private scrap dealers for another 60,000 tons of structural steel,
says George Wittich, senior vice president of Weeks Marine Inc.,
“As of Oct. 5, the final disposition of the
remaining quantities [of steel] was still uncertain,” Wittich says.
“Larger steel beams, as big as 30 tons, may be used for slurry wall
At New York City's request, USACE structural
engineering teams have surveyed buildings and structures in the
affected area to assure safety in search, rescue and debris-removal
operations. USACE experts also continue to oversee cleanup efforts and
contracts, and perform efficiency analyses to determine ways to
streamline the debris removal and disposal process.
the concrete from the WTC site was pulverized into dust in the Sept. 11
attacks. But huge amounts of structural steel remained scattered in
tangled heaps, says Allen Morse, USACE chief debris expert and FEMA
“I saw I-beams stacked six stories high,”
he says. “Steel could make up as much as half of the site's estimated
1.2 million tons of wreckage. Plans on how to move the machinery around
this site are complex.”
As part of the cleanup plan, officials
are moving debris to the recently closed Fresh Kills landfill in Staten
Island, N.Y., by both barge and truck. At press time, 120 pieces of
equipment were handling debris at the WTC site, and 240 trucks and 70
barges were removing debris.
Fresh Kills has been reopened to
host an intense Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and New York City
Police investigation. At press time, officials stated that Fresh Kills
would accept all WTC debris.
Because barges will be used, the
Hudson and East Rivers are being dredged to make the four piers near
the “Ground Zero” site available. Weeks Marine was still dredging as
trucks began delivering steel for off-loading onto barges, some of
which held up to 3,000 tons. According to Wittich, one barge load is
equal to 150 truckloads.
Even with 63 Weeks Marine employees
onsite and 24 hour per day operations, USACE has awarded a $790,500
emergency contract to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co., Oak Brook, Ill.,
to deepen the Pier 6 site on the East River. At press time, three of
the four piers were operational, with the fourth expected to become
operational soon after.
Once at Fresh Kills, debris is
investigated for evidence, as well as sorted for recycling using 145
pieces of sorting and moving equipment, officials say. Kathy Dawkins,
New York Department of Sanitation spokeswoman, says that while the
majority of the steel from the WTC site can be recycled, much of the
material cannot. “Computer components, electronics and office
furniture, for example, will likely remain at the landfill,” she says.
speed debris-sorting operations, the USACE has been testing a conveyor
system, which went online on Sept. 25. The EPA also is “writing a plan”
to manage hazardous waste recovered onsite, including freon, fuel and
biomedical waste, USACE's Morse says.
As management plans move
into high-gear, project participants are not optimistic that the debris
will disappear quickly, especially with winter coming.
consultant Controlled Demolition Inc. (CDI), Phoenix, Md., has reported
that it could take up to 14 months to remove all of the debris. New
York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has estimated that cleanup could take
up to one year.
Meanwhile, regular collection and disposal of
New York waste and recyclables has continued on-schedule in the city's
five boroughs, Dawkins says. To ensure waste does not pile up, the
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), at the
request of New York State environmental officials, has extended
emergency procedures and hours of operation at its landfills and
incinerators to handle New York's waste through October.
press time, the amount of debris taken to Fresh Kills totaled nearly
215,000 tons, or approximately 10,000 tons per day. Total estimated
debris was 1.2 million tons, including 16,000 truckloads.
Total estimated cost for cleanup and rebuilding is $39 billion.