Twenty Acres of Appliances Awaiting Destruction Offer Glimpse into Size of Katrina Disaster

OTTUMWA, Iowa, Dec. 19 /PRNewswire/ --

This time of year most Americans are in the check-out line buying food for the holidays with little concern of where to store it. But for most Katrina victims, food may not be their top priority. Many of them just want to return to their homes and rebuild their lives.

A 20-acre recycling site in New Orleans offers a glimpse into the devastation suffered. The site contains refrigerators and freezers with rotting food inside. The appliances await demolition by Environmental Recycling Inc. A subcontractor from Lexington, Ky., the company has been hired to crush and recycle metal removed from the disaster areas.

On average, 6,000 appliances arrive each day at this one site. It is one of seven sites operating in New Orleans. Along with removing the food, each refrigerator is emptied of its Freon(TM) refrigerant before crushing can begin.

"When I come to work, all I see are fields of refrigerators and other appliances; plus, I see and smell mountains of wasted food," said H.C. Morris, Vice President of Environmental Recycling Inc. "But, I also see progress as each of our Al-jon balers' process some 200 bales a day, each bale weighs nearly 1,600 pounds."

At this one site, the company processes nearly 480 tons of scrap metal a day using three balers. It is being crushed into bales that can be hauled away on trucks. Ironically, the metal will be recycled to make items such as new appliances.

However, Morris knows they could process the scrap even faster because of his skilled operators and the machines used. According to Morris, the company uses Al-jon balers because they are
highly efficient and if something should break, Al-jon has them running again within 24 to 48 hours.
"I'm serious - we wouldn't be able to do this at this pace without Al-jon," said Morris.

"Good service response is important in any effort, but none as important as this," said Kendig Kneen, president of Al-jon, Inc. "Everyone wants this cleaned up as fast as possible. Environmental Recycling and hurricane victims can't afford to wait a week for a part -- we have to get it to them right

Morris wants to clean up this area as fast as possible; however, it is only operating at one-third capacity. His equipment and operators are so efficient the City of New Orleans can't deliver appliances fast enough.

Typically, a skilled operator could make 250 to 300 bales a day. However, at the current pace, Morris predicts it will still take him 1 to 2 years to finish all three phases of the recycling. "Right now we're just handling the appliances that were set at the curb," explains Morris. "In the second phase, clean up crews will remove the appliances left inside the homes; and then the city will begin the third phase of demolition."

Once the buildings are demolished, workers will sort through the debris and separate the metal for Environmental Recycling to process it. "You have to consider the average home contains about 1,000 pounds of metal, such as duct work, heating and air conditioning units, hot water heaters, appliances, pipes and other items. Even operating at full capacity, it's easy to see why the recovery from this disaster will take a long time."

Environmental Recycling, Inc. will process nearly 75 percent of the white goods in New Orleans, but the company is also a part of the clean up effort with hurricanes Rita and Wilma. With additional operations in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida, the company contacted Al-jon to find the additional equipment needed to meet the demands from this year's hurricane season. Currently, 12 balers are poised to crush as much as 140,000 tons of metal debris in the affected areas.