AHP1303:††††††††††† Disaster Debris Management: Lessons Learned from the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

Speaker:††††††††††††† Leonard Grossberg, MPA, REHS/RS

The Great East Japan Earthquake was the first disaster ever recorded that included an earthquake, a tsunami, a nuclear power plant accident, a power supply failure, and a large-scale disruption of supply chains. Amid the deep devastation and massive recovery efforts, came the challenge of how to collect, store, sort, recycle, and process disaster debris in an efficient and sustainable manner. †View this session to learn how this is being done at the largest outdoor Municipal Recycling Facility in operation, and return to your organization with a model for how to work with government and planning departments to permit and build temporary disaster debris processing facilities.

 

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Disaster Debris Management:


On March 11, 2011 at approximately 2:45 PM, a 9.0 earthquake occurred in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Japanís Tohoku region.† Thirty minutes later, a Tsunami wave of unprecedented force broke over 650 kilometers of coastline, toppling sea walls and other defenses, flooding more than 500 km≤ of land, and washing away entire villages and towns.†† The devastation left some 20,000 people dead or missing with most of the deaths caused by drowning.† The tsunami leveled 130,000 houses and severely damaged 260,000 more.† About 270 railway lines ceased operation immediately following the disaster, and 15 expressways, 69 national highways, and 638 prefecture and municipal roads were closed.† Some 240 hectares of agricultural land were flooded.† The worst areas hit were the northern provinces of Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi prefectures.


The Great East Japan Earthquake was the first disaster ever recorded that included an earthquake, a tsunami, a nuclear power plant accident, a power supply failure, and a large-scale disruption of supply chains.


The estimated economic damaged is expected to be over $210 billion, with more than 31.2 million tons of debris being processed by July 2012, and expected to continue through 2014.† The Japanese government quickly mobilized its resources, fast tracked the bidding process (3-4 months) and issued contracts to begin processing debris within 6 months!† As of September 2012, 23 primary yards in the northern prefectures were established to collect debris and then transport that debris to the 170-acre secondary yard in Ishinomaki to make the debris ready to send for final disposal.† The debris is sorted and processed for recyclables (wood, plastics, paper, etc.), checked for hazardous materials/wastes, metals (cars, refrigerators, etc.), and eventually combustible materials are sent to the incineration units while non-combustibles are cleaned and re-used, or sent to landfill.


The scope and magnitude of the operation is something to be seen (the largest outdoor Municipal Recycling Facility in the world), and with pictures and my first-hand view of the operations, I hope to be able to bring my experiences to others and prepare them in future disaster risk management planning.