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Decision Support Tools for Debris Operations in Natural and Man- Made Disasters

March 24, 2011 | Atlanta, GA

The amount of debris
generated by some large-scale disasters is equivalent in volume to years of
normal solid waste production in the affected areas. The U.N. estimates that
the recent Haitian earthquake produced, at a minimum, 63 million cubic meters
of debris, more than even Hurricane Katrina produced. The task of removing this
debris could ”require a fleet of approximately 1,000 trucks working 24 hours a
day for two years” and cost upwards of a billion dollars. Adding to the
challenge, debris operations occur in three phases: clearance, collection and disposal.

  • Debris clearance refers to operations performed during or right after
    a hazardous event with the goal of clearing the debris from major arteries to
    give access to critical facilities and to aid in emergency relief operations.
  • Debris collection refers to transportation of the debris from the
    disaster area to collection sites. This phase must be done in a timely fashion
    as long-term standing debris can cause serious risks to the affected area,
    including threat of disease or chemicals spilling into the environment.
  • Debris disposal refers to transportation of the debris to the final
    disposal sites and the choice of the disposal method (e.g., landfill, reduce,
    recycle or reuse) for a given debris type at a given location.

Thus, there is a tremendous
need for decision support tools that can aid in evaluating the long- and short-term
costs and impacts of the interrelated decisions necessary for managing debris

Ozlem Ergun and Pinar Keskinocak are working
on developing mathematical models and analysis for aiding decision support in
all three phases of the debris operations. In this context, they have
collaborated with FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers and local EMAs. Furthermore, a
team from Georgia Tech went to Haiti for data collection and situational
assessment last year. Click here to view a multi-media presentation of their trip. They have been active in disseminating their findings to impact
policy decisions in the Haitian recovery.

  • Debris removal challenge after hazardous events.
    Debris removal challenge after hazardous events.
ISyE location map

Georgia Tech Supply Chain and
Logistics Institute
H. Milton Stewart School of
Industrial & Systems Engineering
765 Ferst Drive, NW, Suite 228
Atlanta, GA 30332
Phone: 404.894.2343