Why is the State of California conducting an emergency sweep of all burned properties to remove Household Hazardous Waste?
On August 24, 2020, the County Health Officer, Dr. Sundari R. Mase, proclaimed a health emergency due to the hazardous waste on burned properties. Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) 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 California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is conducting an emergency sweep to remove hazardous waste from properties that threatens the community and the environment. HHW removal will be at no cost to impacted property owners.
The States’s contractor will inspect all fire-damaged properties and remove hazardous waste that is detected. HHW 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 HHW and will be wearing personal protective equipment.
Work is anticipated to begin Tuesday, September 15, barring any extreme weather or fire events. Once all parcel information is collected, DTSC will have an interactive map in which property owners can check the status of their parcel. If any parcels have accessibility obstacles, please contact the Sonoma County Hazardous Materials Unit at (707) 565-2024.