Hurricane Katrina produced destruction, resulting in disaster debris from vegetation and man-made structures. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 had the greatest recorded amount of debris in the United States, which generated 43 million cubic yards (CY) of debris. Debris generated by Hurricane Katrina may be over 100 million CY. Before the Gulf Coast region can rebuild, much debris generated by the storm must be removed and properly managed (i.e., landfilled, recycled, or burned). The types of debris generated include vegetative debris (e.g., trees, limbs, shrubs), municipal solid waste (e.g., common household garbage and personal belongings), construction and demolition debris (in some instances, entire residential structures and all their contents), vehicles (e.g., cars, trucks, and boats), food waste (technically termed "putrescibles"), white goods (e.g., refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners), and household hazardous waste (e.g., cleaning agents, pesticides, pool chemicals). Each type of waste may contain or be contaminated with certain toxic or hazardous constituents. Long term, the methods in which these wastes are to be managed require proper consideration to ensure that their management (e.g., landfilling) would not pose a future threat to human health or the environment. This report provides the background and information necessary to understand why, additional funding of debris removal activities will likely be needed for months to come, as well why debris removal is a costly, complex, and lengthy operation. (The process may involve several activities, such as waste separation, hauling, landfill disposal, burning, and recycling.) This report provides an overview of the types and amounts of debris generated, the governmental agency requirements and responsibilities regarding the debris removal process, and the complicating factors unique to Hurricane Katrina. This includes the slow pace of residents to return to hard-hit areas of New Orleans, the difficulty in
separating hazardous debris from non-hazardous debris, and issues associated with demolishing private structures and structures that may contain asbestos. Another concern involves sending construction and demolition (C&D) debris to landfills located in communities affected by the storm. This could become an issue to Congress if agencies participating in the cleanup become liable under provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as Superfund; this could be possible because the definition of C&D debris was expanded after the storm to include potentially contaminated material. Debris removal operations are essentially complete in Alabama and are nearing completion in Mississippi. This report focuses on issues associated with continuing debris removal activities in Louisiana. This report will be updated.