Waste management following Mexico's earthquake disaster

"Criteria for construction and demolition waste management" was presented by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat)
Photo: Collapsed building near Miramontes Avenue - Alejandro Acosta/EL UNIVERSAL
26/10/2017
18:19
EFE
Mexico City
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All natural disasters, such as tsunamis, floods, landslides, and earthquakes, result in disaster debris. Debris management after a devastating earthquake such as the 7.1-magnitude quake that hit Mexico on September 19, required a guideline for earthquake waste handling and treatment.

Earthquake waste is predominantly construction and demolition debris from collapsed buildings during or following the catastrophe that require a rigorous management action strategy to avoid secondary hazards on the health of the population and the environment.

Therefore, the "Criteria for construction and demolition waste management," was presented by Mexico's Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales abbreviated Semarnat) including placement, sanitation, use and recycling of waste among other standards.

Sandra Herrera Flores, Senior Adviser for the ‎Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in Mexico, points out that it would have been “ideal to have a protocol before, during and after the earthquake" involving Civil Protection, and the Ministry of Public Works among other institutions.

Herrera suggests that waste from collapsed homes and buildings, such as metal, concrete, brick, timber, plasterboard, pipes, or asphalt should be used as engineering fill for land reclamation or land remediation. 

Also, Herrera emphasizes the importance of risk mapping while assuring that it helps to identify and address the risks anticipating the location of high-risk materials, identifying sites to place waste, specific waste management, and sanitation.

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