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Mountains Of Debris From Sandy Finally Removed From Long Island

OCEANSIDE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, enormous mountains of debris were finally being removed from the South Shore of Long Island Wednesday.

As CBS 2's Dana Tyler reported, to keep hundreds of trucks off the roads, the State of New York approved using barges, which were being filled around the clock.

In Oceanside, trucks filled with wreckage from Sandy were lined up dockside to dump their loads of debris. A crane stood by to scoop it up quickly before transferring the lost possessions to waiting barges.

"This is a 24-hour operation going on all day, all night," said marine scientist Dr. James Cervino. "It is slated to last approximately 60 days."

Project managers said they are using nets propped against the barges to capture any loose debris and prevent it from falling in the water and causing environmental issues. The barges will also be covered, and followed by other vessels to prevent anything from getting into the bay.

The arrival of the barges will now allow crews to start dismantling growing mountains of debris that piled up at Nickerson Beach, east of Long Beach, where crews were using long probing sticks to check for hazardous materials.

"They pick it up on the streets for us, and then we sort it, and we run it through here to get all the contaminants out of it," said Greg LaMay, director of debris operations.

In the giant mounds, you will see a lifetime of personal possessions and memories, all crushed together, covering nearly 400,000 cubic yards.

"A hundred and seventy-two football fields and one foot high of debris materials -- these are people's lives here. These are people's homes. You look at these stockpiles and you see pictures, you see mattresses, you see, you know, ornaments, you see Christmas tree ornaments," Cervino said. "It's very, very sad what you see in these piles."

On Thursday, a giant $9 million barge crane is expected to help speed operations.

The barges will travel up the Hudson River to dump all the debris at an Albany landfill.

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