Visiting gazelleThe earthquake that occurred in early February in the southern regions of Turkey and northern Syria was a great tragedy for millions of people. This disaster killed thousands of people and affected the lives of millions. Now, with the earthquake rescue operation complete, other problems have emerged, among them the large amount of debris from collapsed buildings and destroyed roads. According to estimates, the volume of this debris reaches more than 210 million tons, which is enough to cover a city like Washington to a depth of about 120 cm, or with it you can build a mountain as high as Mount Arcis in Turkey. (3917 meters high).
A US Congress report in 2017 described post-earthquake waste and garbage management as one of the biggest challenges in the reconstruction of earthquake-affected areas, and it is now a challenge plaguing the countries of Syria and Turkey. Ignoring the large volume of debris after an earthquake, the need for rapid clean-up of this debris, and the high cost of removing the debris could have disastrous consequences for the region.
Research on debris management indicates that planning will play a key role in reducing the long-term impacts of this problem on the health of people and the ecosystem in the area. Now more than ever, there is a need to plan and prepare debris disposal sites, build recycling capacity, and provide guidance to area residents, contractors, and local governments to safely manage this project.
Clearing and removing rubble will take about a third of the recovery costs from this natural disaster and will take months or even years. If this project is not managed well, potentially hazardous residues may be dumped in landfills, rivers, beaches and other open areas, resulting in water and soil pollution; It will change the flow of rivers and will be a great threat to human life, flora and fauna.
Post-crisis debris management steps
About 24 to 72 hours after a major earthquake, the main priority in debris management is to try to provide the possibility of searching to save people’s lives and to evacuate the area, and at the same time, the necessary equipment should be provided to remove the debris from roads and roads. After that, the focus should be on collecting the debris and moving it to a temporary location, and the final step is to get rid of this debris; The debris should be separated and classified into recyclable debris, burial of debris, and incineration of debris. Deciding on the management of these wrecks at each stage is a complex task; Because mismanagement in this direction can have long-term social and environmental consequences. For example, consideration should be given to how much debris is separated and classified at the initial stage during cleanup and collection, to what extent this procedure affects the speed of search and saving lives, the cost and duration of the debris management process, and the final destination of this debris.
Where to temporarily accumulate debris is also an important social and environmental decision. In Turkey, hazardous materials such as asbestos and other harmful chemicals were found in construction debris along with destroyed electronics and household appliances, and these days people and environmental groups are very concerned about the potential dangers hidden in these mountains of waste, parts of which are in Residential areas or close to these areas, farmland, riverbeds, or wildlife refuge areas have been grouped together. The Turkish government has announced that the debris management plans include overseeing the separation, recycling and reuse of materials for construction or proper waste disposal. Of course, implementing these plans is a huge challenge. Government officials have asked the public to report any illegal activities by contractors.
Key management steps
There are three main steps to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of managing these debris: planning; Technology and data driven decision making for optimal preparation on the way to implementation and monitoring.
In order to prepare as much as possible, at the planning stage, several organizations and experts in a wide range of fields should be employed from geology, civil and environmental engineering to urban and regional planners, public health experts, and industrial systems engineers.
The implementation monitoring phase is also a very important phase to ensure that the plans are properly implemented and reviewed and revised if necessary.
Practical tools in debris management
In this way, information, data and technology can help manage debris in different parts. For example, the Hazus tool developed by FEMA estimates current risks and informs planning decisions for local governments.
The EPA’s Disaster Waste Recovery Tool provides information on more than 20,000 waste management facilities.
At the same time, technology is used to collect and share information and data, maps the state of the area and provides information useful in assessing the type, quantity and location of debris after a disaster. Unfortunately, this technology and tools are not available in many vulnerable regions of the world. But this is an area where through the establishment of cooperation between governments and states and with the support of funding agencies and coordination between non-governmental organizations, important efforts can be made in the way of planning and reducing the negative impacts of natural disasters in the future.