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Federal, State Officials to Brief Reporters on Debris Management in Gulf Coast Area Briefing Transcript

Speaker(s): Kevin Jasper (Army Corps of Engineers) - Lieutenant Commander Claudia Gelzer (U.S. Coast Guard) - Deputy Regional Administrator Stan Meiburg (EPA) - Ruth McCulley (Director of Science - Technology and Medicine - Occupational Safety and Health Administration) - Dave Tenny (Deputy Under Secretary of Natural Resources on the Environment - USDA) - Dave Gagner (Chief of Staff - Natural Resources Conservation Service) - Charles Chisholm (Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality) - Phil Bass (Director of the Office of Pollution Control - Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality )

Moderator: Eryn Witcher




09/21/2005, 01:00 PM




P R O C E E D I N G S

And at this time we're going to open it up to the Army Corps of Engineers, Kevin Jasper.

MR. JASPER: Good afternoon, everyone. I guess we need to start off by saying that the work that the Army Corps of Engineers is just one piece to a very large organization that is working cooperatively with the State of Mississippi and the local counties, cities and municipalities that have been drastically impacted by Hurricane Katrina.

We are here at the request of FEMA, supporting the state and the city and the counties. We have currently been assigned the debris mission in 14 counties. We are currently hauling debris in 16 of those 14 counties (sic). We have staff personnel working with the remaining counties that we've been assigned to set up and establish where we will stage or dispose of the debris that we will have to manage across the state.

With the amount of debris that is on the ground, it is an extreme undertaking, massive operation. The ramp-up that we've been able to do could be characterized as unprecedented. This is far and above what Hurricane Andrew did. But we have successfully ramped ourself up to the point where the Corps of Engineers themselves and their contractors, with the support of the constituents, the local governments and state government, we're moving an average of 200,000 cubic yards of debris a day.

Cumulatively, we've moved a total of about 1.8 million cubic yards to date, and in the areas that we've been assigned, we expect that we could reach up to about 23 million cubic yards of debris.

That debris is primarily taken to staging sites or to final disposal landfills, depending on the type of debris that we have. Right now our current mission is limited to public rights of way, public property, basically trying to provide the necessary support to ensure emergency access to public roads, routes, and make every effort possible to mitigate any safety hazards that may exist on the ground.

To this point in the operation, we're very satisfied with what we've done. The cooperation that we've received from the cities and municipalities has been great. They are a key to the success of the overall debris mission here in Mississippi. Their ability to assist us in understanding the lay of the land is key. We set our staging sites up. We will segregate the debris at those staging sites from either vegetative debris to construction demolition debris. We have white goods, is basically the refrigerators, the stoves. Then we also work with EPA to handle any household hazardous waste that we have.

The final disposition of that debris varies depending on what type of debris it is. It could be anything from burning of the vegetative debris, and I must point out that we have staging sites that are operating 24 hours a day with burning. W're doing everything we can to progress as fast as possible and to get the communities back up and running as soon as possible.

That's ultimately why we're here is to help this state, the communities get back up and running as soon as possible. We're not alone in our efforts. We have all the federal agencies supporting this large mission, and be glad to answer any questions at the end.

MS. WITCHER: Thank you, Kevin. Let's turn over at this time to Charles Chisholm. He is the Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. He can talk about what he's doing on the ground.

MR. CHISHOLM: Thanks, Eryn. I just want to add a few comments to what Kevin had to say. First of all, I want to recognize that as it regards waste management issues, federal, state and local governments are working very, very well together. There's been a good spirit of working through these issues. There's a great deal of communication, and I feel very good about how the process is working with regard to waste.

I would just add a few things to what Kevin had to say. First of all, there's a lot of waste separation going on. There's a lot of volume reduction going on. We in Mississippi are trying to utilize the existing waste sites to the degree possible.

We are identifying good new sites in close coordination with local governments. We're doing a great deal of monitoring now of what's going on at the current waste disposal sites. We do believe that we have enough sites identified currently to deal with the waste that is being moved, but we also expect that we will have to identify additional sites.

I think, Kevin, you said that you all expect to move about 23 million cubic yards in the areas that you're responsible for. I have heard that there's probably that much additional waste that will have to be managed. And I think all of these numbers are subject to adjustment as we all learn more.

But we are already planning here at DEQ in conjunction with EPA to identify additional waste sites as well. And Eryn, I'd like to give Phil Bass here an opportunity to add to any of comments as he feels necessary.

MR. BASS: Just very quickly --

MS. WITCHER: Phil, can you just give us your title?

MR. BASS: Yeah. I am Director of the Office of Pollution Control here at DEQ. We have worked, as Charles said, very closely with the local authorities in Mississippi. The counties, the local officials have ultimate responsibility for siting these things, not the state. The state has to give the environmental permits, but the counties have to tell us where they want them, where they're willing to accept them. And we've got mechanisms in place to deal with the local authorities. They're very cooperative in dealing with that. I think the Corps and the other contractors are just doing a great job in first getting the stuff up off the ground, getting staging areas where that's possible, and as Charles said, getting it segregated. There's going to be a lot of environmental issues that we have to deal with in the coming weeks with the white goods, with the automobiles, with other things, but we're putting mechanisms in place to deal with those as we speak.

MS. WITCHER: Great. Thank you. Let's go now to EPA. Stan Meiburg?

MR. MEIBURG: Yes. This is Stan Meiburg. And, again, I'm the Deputy Regional Administrator for EPA Region 4, which includes Mississippi along with seven other states. And our primary role in this area is to support and assist Charles and Phil and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, along with the local governments in Mississippi and the Corps of Engineers as they carry out their primary responsibilities.

And some of the things that we have been doing to try and support and assist in those roles have included such things as helping with guidance on the open and closed landfills, assisting the state with their operations on vegetative and structural debris, the policies they've issued; working to help make sure that we offer guidance on the burning of debris, sharing experiences from other states and other parts of the country who have had large debris issues in the past, and also, again, to go to something that is related that the State of Mississippi has done, which we encourage and supported, has been to provide an emergency permit for storage of wood waste so that could be sprayed with water so it could be kept potentially useful.

I really want to commend the efforts of the state and the county, the local governments and the Corps of Engineers. As they are staging this debris, they are making every effort reasonable to try to separate debris out and make sure that it's properly managed.

We also are working to try to help facilitate communication among many private parties who have been calling in to ask to offer assistance in such things as the building recyclers, for example, and other people who as this debris is ultimately managed, want to try to use creative approaches as well as to handle and appropriately manage the waste that's there.

The other thing we've been doing in trying to assist and support the state is to help with some of the air monitoring. We've sent over a team to consult with the state and some portable air monitors to help the state provide air monitoring around some of the debris burn sites.

And then finally, I should mention that our direct responsibility under the President's federal response plan has been, together with the U.S. Coast Guard, to work on recovery of hazardous materials. And we have had teams in Mississippi since -- really since the hurricane, going around and assessing any potential for releases of hazardous materials, identifying where those might be, recovering containers, getting those staged so they can be properly disposed of.

We again operate in those areas we're in very close cooperation with the Coast Guard, and I have to say that the cooperation there, the training in emergency response with the Coast Guard has just been outstanding in our region.

MS. WITCHER: Thank you, Stan. Let's turn it over to Ruth McCulley, the Director of Science, Technology and Medicine for OSHA.

MS. McCULLEY: All right. Thank you. Again, I echo what others have said about really the cooperative nature of this activity with our federal and state and local partners. From a OSHA perspective, we have been involved in debris reduction activities in two ways.

One is since the storm passed on August 30th, we have had staff on the ground working with power restoration and mobile debris crews who are removing debris. We are focusing on working with these crews on a one-on-one type of nature, providing technical assistance to them as they proceed with their work.

And the second area that we're working with is we're working closely on a daily basis with EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers and the State of Mississippi in their planning activities for debris removal in the state. And this includes the review of safety and health plans for the removal and transport of debris.

In addition, we are contacting each county debris specialist in Mississippi to identify the specific locations of each disposal and reduction site where we will be available to give briefings to crews on specific health and safety hazards associated with tree removal.

Again, we are operating in a way of providing technical assistance. This is both by providing assistance on the ground as well as providing factsheets in both English and Spanish to those workers who are working Mississippi.

The major hazards that we are concerned with right now are those that are dealing with debris operations in roadways, and we're focusing on roadway work zone safety. As you can imagine, roadways are clogged. We want to make sure that people are working safely and that they're visible as they're doing this work.

And the second area really deals with chainsaw safeties and personal protective equipment assessment and recommendations.

So far, thus far in Mississippi, we have provided health and safety assistance to nearly 650 crews, and we've distributed almost 4,800 factsheets to individuals.

MS. WITCHER: Great. Thank you. USDA?

MR. TENNY: This is Dave Tenny. I'm the Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment over the forestry part of the Natural Resources and Environment mission, and I'm joined by Dave Gagner, who is the Chief of Staff of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

I'll speak to what the Forest Service is doing, and then turn the balance of the time over to David.

First of all, I want to join in what others have said about the level of cooperation and support that we've seen on the ground among the federal, state and local entities that are working on this.

The Forest Service's primary mission has been to provide instant command and logistical support for all the other missions that are going on throughout the region, and currently has about 4,000 people on the ground right now doing the incident management and logistical support.

And I would note that this is the largest sustained nonfederal wild land firefighting deployment of the incident command system from the federal government in the history of the United States. So this is quite an undertaking that these folks have been involved in. And they are providing everything from the showers and the catering services and the radios to other support for the movement of food and other necessities and materials throughout the region.

On the national forest system end, the national forests of Mississippi have now completed debris removal on all the primary and secondary roads of the national forest system. And I would add that they've done that without injury or without notable injury, so they have worked in a very quick and very efficient and very safe manner.

And that operation now is completed, and the incident management system is continuing to support all the ongoing operations in Mississippi and throughout the rest of the region.

I'll turn the time over to Dave Gagner to expand on what the NRCS is doing.

MR. GAGNER: Hi. This is Dave Gagner. I'm the Chief of Staff for the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Our state -- compliments on our end go out to all of our partners, but in terms of headquarters here, the individual I'd like to compliment the most would be Homer Wilkes, our state conservationist. And, Homer, were you able to get on the phone call?

(No response.)

MR. GAGNER: I was hoping -- he's the one that can speak best to the issues that our agency has taken on Mississippi. But the Natural Resources Conservation Service uses the Emergency Watershed Protection Program and works with the Farm Service Agency, another one of our sister agencies here at USDA, on the emergency conservation program. Those programs can deal with both debris and carcass removal. So far, our first focus after the hurricane was in carcass removal, and debris on farm removal as well.

In terms of the carcass removal in Mississippi, we've disposed of over six million birds, poultry and a small amount of other livestock through current practices working with the Army Corps and state agencies, as well as local conservation districts. We've now basically moved on to debris removal on farm and are using the programs, emergency watershed protection and the emergency conservation program to do those. And that's where we're currently at.

MS. WITCHER: Thank you. Coast Guard. Claudia, have you been able to join us?

THE OPERATOR: No ma'am, she has not joined.

MS. WITCHER: Okay. And have we missed any other federal agencies or state representatives?

(No response.)

MS. WITCHER: Okay. Operator, can we open this up to questions and answers, please?

THE OPERATOR: I think we have Claudia on line.

MS. WITCHER: Oh, Claudia. Great.

THE OPERATOR: I'll open her line.

MS. WITCHER: Claudia Gelzer is lieutenant commander with the Coast Guard.

THE OPERATOR: Claudia, your line is open.

MS. WITCHER: Claudia, we can't hear you.

THE OPERATOR: Give us just a moment.

MS. WITCHER: I'm sorry. I think we're going to have to go ahead and open it to Q&A. We just can't seem to hear it.

THE OPERATOR: Okay. Her line is open. Claudia, your line is open.

MS. GELZER: I'm sorry, you guys. This is the Coast Guard. We had some technical difficulties.

Just quickly, the Coast Guard's focus in debris removal really is more related to focusing, you know, we've been working with the EPA and DEQ and the local county government, because there's obviously a large number of both commercial and recreational boats that were either, you know, sunken right in the navigable waters, or were thrown out onto the shorelines and up into the marshes.

And we have done assessments and have identified upwards of 350 boats that have potential for oil or hazardous material releases, and we're now going to remove those -- the pollution from those vessels. And we're working with local contractors, and we're also marking each vessel with stickers so that owners and operators can know who to call if they need assistance in removing their vessels. And we've had a lot of luck and we're seeing that the local owners are actually doing a lot to address this problem, and we are taking care of the rest in terms of oil and hazardous material removal.

MS. WITCHER: Thank you so much. Okay. We can open it up to Q&A. And I'm asking that just one question per reporter until we can through everyone.

THE OPERATOR: At this time, I would like to remind everyone if you would like to ask a question, press star, the number one, on your telephone key paid. I'll pause for just a moment to compile the Q&A roster.

Your first question comes from Brad Pearson with Inside OSHA.

MR. PEARSON: Hi. Can everyone hear me?

MS. WITCHER: Yes.

MR. PEARSON: Yes. My name is Brad Pearson. I work with Inside OSHA. My question is for Ruth. It specifically is in regards to the Workers Safety and Health Annex that was activated last week under the national response plan.

Is there any plans with OSHA to implement this annex quicker in future emergencies?

MS. McCULLEY: We have been in -- we have been working with FEMA and even now as we speak, it has been activated, and we are sending staff to the JFO in Texas for the Hurricane Rita response.

MR. PEARSON: Okay.

MS. McCULLEY: So I don't think that that's an ongoing issue.

MR. PEARSON: Okay.

THE OPERATOR: Your next question comes from James Wimberly, Private Investor.

MS. WITCHER: Oh, is that -- James, is that a publication?

THE OPERATOR: James, your line is open.

MS. WITCHER: James, are you a reporter?

(No response.)

THE OPERATOR: Your next question comes from Doug Obey with EPA.

MR. OBEY: Hi. Doug Obey with Inside EPA. This question is for Stan Meiburg. Do you see the need for any additional federal, maybe congressional authority given to EPA to waive environmental requirements? I know there's been some discussion of that inside the beltway --

MS. WITCHER: Is this considered debris?

MR. OBEY: That there may be a need for additional authority. And if so, where do you see that need being particularly acute?

MS. WITCHER: Doug? Doug and everyone, this call is really just for debris management, so we can talk about debris, but if there -- and we are happy to help you with other questions offline, but we'll just get too many --

MR. OBEY: Okay. Well, let me ask it this way then. Is there -- do you see the need for any additional federal authority to address the problem of debris management?

MR. CHISHOLM: I'll answer just by saying that we're always interested in looking at where additional flexibility would enable us to help meet the environmental and response needs of an emergency like this more effectively, and we're clearly going to be working within the Administration and with the Congress in looking at that question.

MS. WITCHER: Great. Next question? I'm sorry. One question per person.

THE OPERATOR: Your next question comes from William Hurley for the Construction and Demolition Recycling Magazine.

MR. HURLEY: Hello? Can you hear me?

MS. WITCHER: Yeah. Go ahead.

MR. HURLEY: Thank you very much. I think this is for MR. JASPER, I'm not sure. One of the tried and true methods of handling this kind of disaster debris has been -- it never fails. The minute my phone doesn't go mute -- it never -- is to volume reduce by grinding the material.

We understand that in Mississippi, this practice has been stopped by -- we have a confirmed report that it's been stopped in your state for volume reduction. Why is that so?

MR. JASPER: Yes sir. Obviously, we will use grinding as an option for volume reduction. We did have an instance where we did request that the grinder operation cease at a site. It was located in an area that commercial businesses had some concerns. We approached it with the aspect of watering it down to avoid air emissions. I think at that point the decision was made locally with the contractor to move that grinder to another site temporarily until we could ensure that the air emissions was going to be addressed appropriately.

MR. HURLEY: Oh, so you are going to allow --

MS. WITCHER: I'm sorry. Next question.

THE OPERATOR: Your next question comes from Roger Witherspoon with Black Engineer Magazine.

MR. WITHERSPOON: Okay. Is this only -- are you guys only talking about Mississippi when you talk about the volume of material, of debris collected, or is the 23 million cubic yards for the entire coastal affected area?

MR. JASPER: This is Kevin Jasper. The 23 million estimate is for the portion of work that the Corps of Engineers has been assigned in Mississippi, so it is specific to Mississippi.

MR. WITHERSPOON: What about the rest of --

MS. WITCHER: I'm sorry. Next question. Only one per person.

THE OPERATOR: The next question comes from Heather Lombard with the Retech Group.

MS. WITCHER: I'm sorry. Are you a reporter?

MS. LOMBARD: I'm an environmental consultant.

MS. WITCHER: I'm sorry. Reporters only. Next question.

THE OPERATOR: Your next question comes from John Manual, the National Institute.

MS. WITCHER: I'm sorry? Are you a reporter?

MR. MANUAL: Yes.

MS. WITCHER: What's your publication?

MR. MANUAL: Environmental Health Perspectives.

MS. WITCHER: Thank you.

MR. MANUEL: This question is for Charles Chisholm. I'm wondering what materials will be required to be sent to lined landfills as opposed to unlined landfills, and do you have enough of the former?

MR. CHISHOLM: Okay. This is Chisholm, and I'll ask Phil Bass to contribute to this. Obviously, we have a number of municipal solid waste landfills, and some of this material will go to those landfills. As far as the availability of space, we are confident that we do not have enough disposal space right now. And as I mentioned earlier in my comment, we will be over the next 15 or 20 days beginning to identify additional space. And Phil will just add to what I've said.

MS. WITCHER: Great. Okay. Next question. I'm sorry. Next question.

THE OPERATOR: Your next question comes from Karen Trebek with Civil Engineering Magazine.

MS. TREBEK: Hi. Yes. This is Karen Trebek with Civil Engineering, and it's a question for MR. JASPER. You spoke about, you know, with the clearing of the debris in the public areas, and you wanted to mitigate safety hazards. Could you talk about some of the challenges involved with the safety hazards?

MR. JASPER: Well, obviously, when you're dealing with debris, it's a complex environment that we're working with out there. You've got heavy equipment operating in areas where the public does have access and are trying to get access. So, basically, we're doing everything we can to provide a safe working environment.

And, you know, debris has its hazards, natural hazards associated with it from the extent of nails sticking out, metal sticking out, a variety of things like that. So the equipment, large equipment being utilized, we're trying to ensure that we have safety oversight, quality assurance oversight to ensure we're operating in a safe manner.

MS. TREBEK: Thank you.

MS. WITCHER: Great. Next.

THE OPERATOR: The next question comes from Joshua Cockrell with -- Ledger.

MR. COCKRELL: Hi. I was curious if there are -- you mentioned 23 million cubic yards of debris. Are there timeframes for when people -- for how long it will take to get that all cleared up, or is there any sort of estimate?

MR. JASPER: Yes. This is Kevin Jasper. Obviously, the 23 million cubic yards is an estimated number, but based on what we've seen so far and the effectiveness of our operation, we're hoping that within eight months we'll be able to have all the debris up off the ground.

THE OPERATOR: Your next question comes from Tom Baxter with AJC.

MR. BAXTER: Hello, MR. JASPER. This is Tom Baxter with the Atlanta Journal Constitution. I had hoped you could elaborate a little bit more. You referred to the burn site staging area and burning that is going on now. Are you referring to that covered incineration method or open burning? And if you're not open burning now, are you contemplating that?

MR. JASPER: Yes sir. The type of burning that we utilize is utilized in the air curtain incinerators. Our contract actually does not allow the open burning. Any burning we will do will be in concert with the requirements that MDEQ has put out. But basically, we will use air curtain incineration.

THE OPERATOR: Your next question comes from Tasha Eckensire with Greenwire.

MS. ECKENSIRE: Hi. Do you have estimates of the amount of hazardous debris in each of the affect states? And is there adequate infrastructure for handling this? Hello?

MR. JASPER: Yes. This is Kevin Jasper. I have to tell you that, you know, we've been on the ground for almost three weeks now, and we have been assessing the situation, but the evaluation of how much -- what portion of that debris is hazardous waste, I don't think that we've fully assessed that.

Now, EPA, I'll let you fill in. But from the ground level at this point, I haven't heard any type of assessment or numbers on that.

MR. MEIBURG: This is Stan Meiburg from EPA. I would only add to that by saying that I think that answer is correct with respect to the materials that will be separated at some of the staging areas. We have been collecting a large number of drums, tanks, cylinders and other containers under our general assignments under the federal response plan, so we do have some statistics on those that I think are available on the website.

MS. ECKENSIRE: Thank you.

THE OPERATOR: Your next question comes from Daniel Glicksman, International Safety Equipment Association.

MS. WITCHER: I'm sorry. What's your publication?

MR. GLICKSMAN: The Washington Report.

MS. WITCHER: Thank you.

MR. GLICKSMAN: And this question is for OSHA. What types of personal protective equipment are needed, or do workers have what they need?

MS. McCULLEY: Well, first of all, you need to consider the working conditions. And, for example, we are in an environment of very high temperatures, so we need to be careful when we're selecting PPE. But the types of PPE that we're seeing that workers need are gloves, eye protection, hearing protection, hard hats and chaps.

From our situation reports, we are finding that either the workers have the personal protective equipment already, or when they're informed that it is needed, the operation is getting the equipment that the workers need. So at this point, we're not seeing a shortage of personal protective equipment for the workers down there.

The other piece of equipment which is also very important is a Visi Vest, a visible vest that can be used for work zone safety.

MS. WITCHER: Next.

THE OPERATOR: Your next question comes from Dennis Payton, Mitchell County Preparation.

MR. PAYTON: Good afternoon. This is Dennis Payton, Mitchell Preparedness Council and radio station KAUM. The question is to MR. JASPER and/or Mr. Chisholm. It is one question, two parts. On the existing landfill capacity in Mississippi and the resultant cost to construct new ones, will federal dollars be available to the state or counties to construct the landfills once the existing ones have been filled?

MR. JASPER: Yes. This is Kevin Jasper. That's a question that I would say we need to redirect to FEMA. Obviously, the federal agencies are going to work closely with the state and local government to ensure all the necessary assets are available to execute the debris management as effectively as possible.

MR. PAYTON: Thanks, Kevin. Can I ask the second part, ma'am?

MS. WITCHER: I'm sorry.

MR. PAYTON: Thank you, ma'am.

THE OPERATOR: Your next question comes from Linda Roder with BNA.

MS. RODER: This is Linda Roder. I just have a question about the status of Superfund sites, particularly one site, the Agriculture Street --

MS. WITCHER: Linda, that's not debris. I'm sorry. Do you have a debris question?

MS. RODER: Well, this is related to debris. The one landfill, like we're wondering if it's washed away or if it's being cleaned up, the Agriculture Street landfill that apparently --

MS. WITCHER: And that is in New Orleans. Let's --

MS. RODER: Okay. So you're not answering that?

MS. WITCHER: Well, does Stan -- I mean, let's see what Stan --

MR. MEIBURG: No. That site is in Louisiana in New Orleans, and not within our regional office.

MS. RODER: Okay. Can I ask another question then?

MS. WITCHER: Yeah.

MS. RODER: What about the risk of -- how are you addressing the risk of dioxins from burning? And are there, you know, health risks, and what potentially are the health risks?

MR. MEIBURG: This is Stan, and I'm probably not the only person who could answer this, but the best way to do is to make sure that as both Mississippi and the counties and the Corps of Engineers mentioned, is to do good material separation up front, and then good combustion control to make sure that the burns will be done effectively and efficiently.

THE OPERATOR: Your next question comes from Jim Johnson with Waste News.

MR. JOHNSON: I was wondering if someone could speak to the possibility or probability of opening up closed landfills. What's going to be involved with that, and what needs to happen?

MR. CHISHOLM: This is Chisholm in Mississippi. We're looking at all kinds of alternatives to dealing with all of the debris, including the possibility of opening up existing landfills. W don't know if we'll have to do that or not.

Currently, as I said, we think we have enough space for the waste that's being managed today, and we're beginning to plan for what we'll be doing over the next 30 or 60 or 90 days. And that's just one of the considerations, but there are many others.

THE OPERATOR: Your next question comes from Mike Keller with Sun Herald.

MR. KELLER: Are there any federal or state maximums for the amount paid out to contractors per cubic yard when they bring in debris?

MR. JASPER: This is Kevin Jasper again. The requirements for pricing of this is basically that is a negotiated fair and reasonable price. Obviously, we look at the balance of what has occurred in the past with a reasonable rate, and then we look at the current conditions. But it's basically a fair and reasonable price comparable across the state.

MR. KELLER: Thank you.

THE OPERATOR: You have a follow-up question with Brad Pearson with Inside OSHA.

MS. WITCHER: I'm sorry. Melanie, have we made it through to everyone else?

THE OPERATOR: Yes ma'am.

MS. WITCHER: Is there anyone else on line that would like to ask a question?

THE OPERATOR: We have one other person.

MS. WITCHER: Okay.

THE OPERATOR: Stephanie Tylin with Market Watch.

MS. WITCHER: Okay. Go ahead.

MS. TYLIN: Yeah, hi. Can someone -- I forget who it was, but someone brought up during the remarks issues of receiving calls from companies or building recyclers who might be interested in some of this material possibly. Can you just walk me through at what point these companies become involved in the process and what that process is?

MR. MEIBURG: This is Stan Meiburg, and I mentioned it, but I also will defer to Charles and Phil. But we have

-- and I'm sure the state and the Corps of Engineers probably as well have had contacts from the associations in building materials, recycling council I believe, that has expressed interest in when the thumb is appropriate or right, that they would be delighted to assist in finding out if the markets will reuse some of the debris material.

Our job there is to provide whatever reference assistance and technical assistance we can provide to the state in thinking about that without in any way impeding the operations to try to get the debris cleared. And Charles and Phil, if you'd like to add further to that, I would welcome that.

MR. CHISHOLM: Stan, I don't think we really have much to add. We've been getting those calls. We're pleased about that, and we're just putting these people in contact with the local officials, the Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

MS. WITCHER: Great. Is there anyone who has not had a chance to ask a question from a paper or publication that would like to?

THE OPERATOR: At this time, everyone has asked a question.

MS. WITCHER: Great. Thank you, everyone, for joining us today. We will have a transcript available. We'll get that around to the various agencies, but definitely at www.epa.gov.

Thanks a lot.

(The press briefing concluded at 1:54 p.m.)




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