BUFFALO, N.Y. - The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation confirmed Sunday that it issued an emergency authorization to remove debris from the Outer Harbor, following the collapse of a wall from the old Freezer Queen building last week.

The collapsed wall requires underwater inspection and the placement of a boom to keep debris from spreading further into Lake Erie, according to Sean Mahar, the director of the DEC's Communications Office.

Total Wrecking and Environmental, a company based in Tonawanda, has been demolishing the building as developer Gerry Buccheit prepares to move forward with his 23-story Queen City Landing apartment complex project.

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper -- a nonprofit that challenged the project in court due to environmental concerns -- was the first organization to alert the public of the spilled debris during demolition.

Queen City Landing spokesperson Phil Pantano said contractors have already removed a majority of the debris from the water, with plans to remove the remainder of the debris early this week. The DEC, which has oversight of the project as a part of the Brownfield Cleanup Program, was immediately notified following the collapse of the wall.

According to Pantano, the demolition is now more than 80 percent complete. Contractors expect to finish the demolition by early December at the latest, at which point brownfield remediation can begin.