The Kincade Fire has had a devastating impact on Sonoma County. With an estimated 374 destroyed structures, the County is working with property owners to clear their properties so rebuilding can begin.
Clearing properties includes two steps:
Step 1: Household Hazardous Waste Sweep – completed by the County.
Step 2: Fire Debris Removal – completed by property owners with support from the County.
Household Hazardous Waste Cleanup
The County of Sonoma will conduct an initial Household Hazardous Waste sweep on properties impacted by the Kincade Fire to protect the public and the environment. The County is working to enter into an emergency contract to begin removing Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) from properties impacted by the Kincade Fire at no cost to impacted property owners.
Community members should refrain from entering the burn footprint without personal protective equipment, and do not begin cleanup activities until authorized by the Department of Health Services, Environmental Health. Hazardous debris after a wildfire can be toxic, and improper transport and disposal of fire debris can create dangerous health impacts throughout the community.
The selected contractor will inspect properties and remove any Household Hazardous Waste that may pose a threat to human health, animals, and the environment such as batteries, asbestos siding, and paints. All commercial, residential and out-buildings impacted by the fire will be included, regardless of size.
Hazardous Household Waste clean up will begin the week of November 11, 2019, and is expected to take up to 3 weeks.
Frequently Asked Questions about Household Hazardous Waste Cleanup
Why is the County conducting an emergency sweep of all burned properties to remove Household Hazardous Waste?
The County Health Officer has proclaimed a health emergency due to the hazardous waste on burned properties. Household hazardous waste includes leftover household products that can catch fire, react, or explode under certain circumstances, or that are corrosive or toxic. Products such as paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, ammunition, propane, and pesticides can contain hazardous ingredients and require special handling and disposal. Some impacted properties may also have asbestos, which requires special handling. The County is conducting an emergency sweep to remove hazardous waste from properties that threatens the community and the environment. This removal will be at no cost to impacted property owners.
The County’s contractor will inspect all fire-damaged properties and remove hazardous waste that is detected. Household hazardous waste must be removed without delay to protect public health and safety. Additionally, hazardous waste could have significant long-term health and environmental impacts and cannot be combined with the waste from the general fire debris clean-up that will be going to landfills. Removal of hazardous waste from the fire debris prevents these environmental contaminants from polluting the environment, and protects workers and the community from exposure. The crews that conduct removal are specifically certified to handle household hazardous waste and will be wearing protective equipment.
The County is conducting a rapid sweep, not a comprehensive clean-up. Detected hazardous waste will be removed, but some hazardous waste may be missed or may otherwise require subsequent clean-up actions during the debris removal phase by someone certified to handle household hazardous waste.
No. The removal during the Household Hazardous Waste sweep will be limited. Fire debris removal for the purpose of clean-up and rebuild is a separate process.
There is no cost to property owners for the Household Hazardous Waste Removal.
The Household Hazardous Waste sweep will begin on Tuesday, November 12 and is expected to take up to 3 weeks.
The County’s emergency ordinance requires a hazardous waste inspection on all properties. Removal by a private contractor is authorized, but will be done at the homeowner’s expense and work done must meet or exceed the standards set by local, state, and federal agencies. This includes compliance with all legal requirements for handling and disposal, and compliance with County deadlines. If you wish to do this work yourself, please contact Environmental Health at (707) 565-6700 or firstname.lastname@example.org prior to starting any debris removal process.
Owners are not required to be present for the Household Hazardous Waste Sweep. The safety of the general public and workers is a priority during Household Hazardous Waste Sweep. To prevent safety hazards, the public is encouraged to stay away from areas where Household Hazardous Waste Sweep operations are underway. Exclusion zones will be established surrounding the current work area to ensure safety of the public.
Can I be sued by the County or contractor that is removing Household Hazardous Waste from my property?
No. Household Hazardous Waste contractors will be licensed and insured, and their insurance will cover any injuries or damage to equipment that occurs during the Household Hazardous Waste removal process.
If my house is undamaged, but in a burned neighborhood, can I live in my house during the Household Hazardous Waste Sweep?
Generally yes. Exclusion zones will be set up as a safety precaution but it is not anticipated that they will impact standing residences.