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New York debris removal a daunting effort

Lower Manhattan on Sunday  

From Bruce Burkhardt

NEW YORK (CNN) -- It's a job so big that no one really knows how long it will take. Some say six months, some say a year. Some say more.

"It's 220 stories. It's a lot. We're gonna be here a while," sanitation worker Paul Morales said.

There are nearly 900 sanitation workers and 250 pieces of equipment, hauling away at least 2 billion pounds of steel and concrete and 14 acres of glass from where the World Trade Center towers once stood. Then there's all the computers, carpeting, cabinets and desks, much of it unrecognizable.

Truck after truck after truck rolls up the West Side Highway to the 59th Street Marine Transfer Station -- a dock, really, where the trucks spill their cargo onto barges.

What will replace the World Trade Center?  

But it's not just rubble they're dumping. It's criminal evidence. And the FBI and police are keeping everyone away until they've been able to separate the evidence from the debris.

Everything is accounted for, each truckload checked in by an FBI worker.

"There may be evidence in the form of documents. It may be partially burned material, but whatever it is, big or small, it may be very crucial to the case. So we have to be very careful in investigating this scene," said Lawrence Kobilinsky, a professor with John Jay College of Criminal Science.

The evidence, or rubble, is shipped by barge down the Hudson River and across the harbor to Staten Island, home to the recently closed Fresh Kills Landfill.

The stream of rubble flows from the World Trade Center towers' old home to its new one, where police and FBI sift through every pound of debris.

• John Jay College of Criminal Justice

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