In a U.S. Court of Appeals hearing, families of victims killed during the September 11, 2001 attacks at the World Trade Center argued that 1.6 million tons of debris at Staten Island landfill be removed, sifted and then prepared for proper burial because it may contain victims' remains. In the other corner is the city, which argued, "These ashes are undifferentiated dirt."

Last year, a judge ruled that the city did not have to sift through the debris, "Not every wrong can be addressed through the judicial process. The grave harm suffered by the plaintiffs in this case is undeniable. But the jurisdiction of a court is limited." However, Norman Siegel, lawyer for the families, said yesterday, “It comes down to this: Are we prepared to leave hundreds of body parts and human remains on top of a garbage dump?" He added that, according to witnesses, Department of Sanitation workers used some of the debris to fill potholes.

James Tyrell, who is representing the city, says, "To pick it all up and move it at the costs of hundreds of millions of dollars to taxpayers is not what is called for." Diane Horning, whose son Matthew died in the towers and who lead the World Trade Center Families For Proper Burial, said she found some bone fragments (though it's unclear if they were from victims) and other reminders of the WTC, "There is no reason for all eternity that my son has to be in the garbage." The sister of another victim told the Times after the hearing, "I think the whole thing’s pretty deplorable. I don’t think there was any human compassion from the city."