SACRAMENTO – Starting today, the state Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is beginning to remove household hazardous waste left in the wake of wildfires currently across California – a critical task to immediately protect the state’s public health and environment.
DTSC’s emergency response team is now assessing residential properties impacted by this year’s wildfires and taking the first crucial cleanup steps on the road to recovery.
“We grieve the losses so many people endure because of wildfires that are driven by extreme climate change impacts,” DTSC Director Meredith Williams said. “DTSC’s emergency clean-up crews are already back on the ground again, facing our new wildfire reality that California is battling larger, more intense fires year-round.”
DTSC is removing household waste from fire-impacted properties that poses a risk to people, animals, and the environment. Many household substances affected by fire damage, such as batteries, asbestos, sidings, and paint, can release toxic chemicals into the air. These toxicants can also leach into the soil and run off into rivers and streams, contaminating watersheds and sources of drinking water.
The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) has tasked DTSC’s emergency response team to begin the post-fire response to four fires so far this year:
- Tamarack Fire in Alpine County
- Beckwourth Fire in Lassen and Plumas counties
- Lava Fire in Siskiyou County
- Dixie Fire in Plumas County
“Although we are still in the middle of wildfire season here in California, recovery operations are already underway to remove hazardous waste from residential and commercial properties effected by this year’s fires. This is a positive step forward to help survivors during this challenging time. We will keep working together to support the community throughout this recovery process,” said Ryan Buras, Cal OES Deputy Director of Recovery Operations.
Tamarack Fire recovery operations began today and the assessment and removals at nine impacted properties should be completed in two or three days.
Beckwourth Fire recovery operations could begin soon on the 58 properties in Lassen County and the 48 in Plumas County destroyed by that fire.
Assessment at the Lava Fire, where 17 properties were affected, is expected to start the week of August 16.
The Dixie Fire is still too active for assessments to begin, but DTSC is poised to begin recovery as soon as possible.
This important recovery work follows on the heels of the most active wildfire season in recorded history when 4.2 million acres burned and 31 lives were lost last year.
DTSC will track its wildfire hazardous waste cleanup on a public, real-time dashboard mapping system. Information will be uploaded as soon as it becomes available.