Hurricane Katrina Disaster Debris Management: Lessons Learned From State And Local Governments -Briefing Report

The thoughts and prayers of the members of the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) are with those who have been impacted by Hurricane Katrina. SWANA is a 40-year professional association with a membership of over 7,200 solid waste managers and practitioners in the United States and Canada.

In the aftermath of Katrina, many of our members expressed a desire to share the experience and lessons learned by those who have previously had to deal with the management of disaster debris with the state and local government managers now charged with removal and cleanup of the solid wastes caused by the hurricane. In this regard, an email was forwarded to SWANA on September 13, 2005 from the State of Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality requesting assistance.

"Louisiana is very interested in hearing from other state and local governments on their "lessons learned" from disaster debris handling." "Our need is urgent as we have little time to waste." "Specific subject areas included are:

  • School laboratories
  • Household hazardous materials
  • Automobile salvage (tires, lubricating fluids, mercury switches, lead acid batteries, contaminated gasoline/diesel)
  • Propane tanks
  • White goods (freon recovery and mercury thermostats)
  • Electronic wastes."


    "It looks like many communities in the New Orleans region will have to implement a building to building assessment and material removal before demolition.

    If anyone has experience with the issues surrounding abandoned vehicles and condemned buildings, please forward that too."

    "We are attempting to develop a debris removal strategy that will maximize diversion as much as possible, considering the circumstances.

    Concrete will be used as rip rap or ground up, tires will be chipped and ground, wood waste will be ground where there is a grinder, etc." "Any insight will be will be greatly appreciated." Following the receipt of this email, SWANA sent out a request to each of its eight technical divisions requesting information. The purpose of this report is to respond to the Louisiana DEQ's request by summarizing the responses received from SWANA members, as well as other referenced documents, regarding the management of disaster debris. This document was compiled by the staff of SWANA's Applied Research Foundation. -Click Here to Download the Report-

  • About SWANA

    The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) is an organization of more than 10,000 public and private sector professionals committed to advancing from solid waste management to resource management through their shared emphasis on education, advocacy and research. For more than 60 years, SWANA has been the leading association in the solid waste management field. SWANA serves industry professionals through technical conferences, certifications, publications and a large offering of technical training courses.

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