US Army Corps of Engineers work with the New York Department of Sanitation In Hurricane Sandy debris
Debris from Hurricane Sandy is collected at Fresh Kills Land Fill on Staten Island, N.Y., Nov. 13, 2012. The debris is later transported up the Hudson River in barges for separation and recycling operations.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. (Nov. 14, 2012) -- Trucks full of debris from Hurricane Sandy continue to arrive daily on Fresh Kills Land Fill, Staten Island, which is being used as a temporary staging site for debris collected from the Oct. 29 storm.

The debris collection at Fresh Kills is in its infant stages, said Capt. John Peters, hazardous material officer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"We are still trying to gauge the cubic yardage of debris coming in and out," said Peters. "It's difficult to gauge when the material inside the trucks are not consistent; not the same content all the time."

Debris driven in by trucks, contracted by the New York Department of Sanitation, is then off-loaded by bulldozers and cranes onto barges on the Arthur Kill Tidal Straight.

A skimmer boat travels up and down the Arthur Kills tidal straight picking up debris that has fallen into the water while being loaded onto the barges.

According to Peters, each barge, capable of holding 2,000 cubic yards of debris, will take a 20-minute ride up the Hudson River. The debris is then unloaded into another facility that separates and recycles it.

"The debris is collected from streets and homes that have been destroyed in the storm. We want people to start having a sense of normalcy. When they look around their street and see debris everywhere; that can be heart breaking," said Peters.

The New York Department of Sanitation along with the U.S Army Corps of Engineers are working 24 hours a day at Fresh Kills.

"We are trying to bring in the debris and move it out as fast as we can," said Luis Rosado, quality assurance supervisor, Army Corps of Engineers.

The site is no stranger to tragic events. After the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Fresh Kills was utilized for the separation and recycling of debris from the World Trade Center towers.

"It's weird to see people's photo albums, couches, records and personal items," said Rosado. "To know they belong to friends that have lost everything and now see them in a large pile of debris [is heartbreaking]."

On the City of New York Parks and Recreation web site, there are plans to transform the Fresh Kills Landfill into a new public park called Fresh Kills Park over the next 30 years.

Page last updated Thu November 15th, 2012 at 08:49