Short Term
Long Term
Setting a Precedent


Short Term: Debris Disposal
Written by Shardae Watson

By October 2005, the Louisiana DEQ estimate of the amount of debris in New Orleans alone was 55 million cubic yards. They also estimated that it would take about eighteen months to dispose of it. The cost to remove this debris, according to the Army Corps of Engineers, is generally $10-20 per cubic yard for regular debris, but can be significantly higher for hazardous material and contaminated debris.

As of June 2006, FEMA has given $403.6 million for debris removal in the New Orleans metropolitan area. As of April 10, 2006, the following parishes have received several grants: St. Bernard Parish, three grants totaling $88.6 million; St. Tammany Parish, three grants totaling $65.7 million; Jefferson Parish, $50.8 million; Plaquemines Parish, four grants totaling $24.5 million; Washington Parish, two grants totaling $9.7 million.

Debris management includes collecting the waste, sorting hazardous material from the non-hazardous material, and disposing of it in a necessary manner. The people of New Orleans are considering various ways of disposing of the debris that lined the streets shortly after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. These include green waste, white goods, C&D debris, electronics and hazardous waste.

Green waste

Green waste includes vegetation. This includes uprooted trees, tree stumps, destroyed marsh land and other ruined plant life. Such debris can easily be burned and disposed of, used to create trap sediment, or used as compost.

The Louisiana department of natural resources Parish Coastal Wetland Restoration Program (also known as the Christmas tree Program), which was started in 1989, uses brush fence enclosures to trap fetch and sediment. They can be used in open water and allow the passage of water and sediment without blocking anything. They have no adverse effects on water quality.

White Goods

White goods are objects such as refrigerators, stoves, washers, toasters and dishwashers. If they are not too damaged, they can be repaired and reused.  If not, then all gases contained in the objects (such as Freon, a cooling agent) are disposed of before the object itself is destroyed.

C&D Debris

C&D, or construction and demolition debris, includes building materials such as steel concrete and asphalt. Concrete and asphalt would be able to be ground down to be used as a sub-base in road building, while brick could either be reused or be ground up for use in landscaping. Metal could be turned in scrap metal, while dirt could be used either with soil or to cover landfills.


If any electronics can be salvaged, then they will be repaired and reused. If they are beyond repair, then anything that can be reused (such as metals) will be taken out and the rest will be put in a landfill.

Hazardous waste

Most of the amounts of toxic waste found in the floodwaters range from just a few ounces to 55 gallons. As of February 2006, recovery groups have gathered about 31,000 drums (55 gallons or more), 29,000 propane tanks, 36,000 cylinders, and 4,700 large containers.

Site of Disposal

The main landfill under consideration for disposal of the hurricane debris is the Chef Menteur Disposal site in Gentilly. This site, if it is chosen, will be storing hazardous waste and the waste of gutted homes. Everything else that can be reused or recycled will be salvaged.

Several problems with the location of the landfill have to do with the fact that the site is only 1-4 feet above the water table and that it is next to the Maxent Canal, which backflows toward several communities when the pumps are shut off. There is also a risk that the liquid hazardous waste will collect at the bottom and contaminate the water.

The landfill is also in an area that is very susceptible to storm surge.