HONOLULU (KHON2) — Crews continue to carefully search the rubble for victims. Gov. Josh Green said they’ve now covered 60% of the disaster area. But the process is far from over.

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U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D) said removing the debris will be a long and expensive process.

“It could be up to a billion dollars and take up to a year,” Schatz explained. “And so we have to brace ourselves for a really big enterprise of removing all of that debris.”

Shatz said it will start once crews finish searching for missing family and friends.

“Once that process is done, FEMA goes in with the Environmental Protection Agency, and also the Army Corps of Engineers, and they start to determine what is hazardous and how it ought to be disposed of,” said Schatz. “There will be hazardous waste, especially in Lahaina town.”

He said the EPA has to search each home, each structure, and take and test soil samples and water samples, to ensure it’s safe for people to walk around in Lahaina town.

In a statement, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers said:

“We have also activated a Debris Planning and Response Team which is a specialized management cell team that provides contracting and management oversight for debris removal and clearance missions, infrastructure and coastal assessments and technical assistance work in the state.”

So contracts should be going out soon to hire companies to do the removal.

But where will it all go?

“Nobody has settled the question of what’s going to have to happen to the construction debris,” said Schatz.

He said he wants it off of Maui.

“We haven’t figured out the logistics,” said Schatz. “I don’t know whether that’s possible. But that is our strong, strong preference.”

As for that potential $1 Billion dollar price tag, Schatz said the feds may cover it.

“Right now, we have an agreement to have the federal government cover 100% of the costs for the next 120 days,” said Schatz.

If contracts don’t go out within that time period, the state or Maui County could have to pay a portion of the removal costs.

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“So obviously, we have a very, very strong preference to get those contracts out during the period when the 100% cost share is in place,” Schatz said.