U.S. EPA Fire Response in Northern California: Update
SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working with local, state and federal partners on the response to the Northern California fires. EPA’s role is to lead the survey, collection and disposal of household hazardous waste (HHW) in Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Butte and Fresno counties. This work is setting the stage for other state and federal agencies to remove ash and other non-hazardous debris, and for the rebuilding process to begin.
Specifically, EPA teams are conducting observations to identify locations of HHW and other hazardous materials and containers, and to ensure safe conditions. Once properties are surveyed, HHW collection teams are removing the materials identified during the surveys. EPA has assessed over 1,111 properties and collected HHW items from those properties. These materials are taken to temporary staging areas before disposal at hazardous waste facilities. EPA plans to expand survey and collection operations in coming weeks.
“EPA’s partnership with the State of California, the counties, and other local officials has helped meet the challenges of this critical first phase of the recovery process,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “We are honored to contribute to these efforts to help these communities rebuild.”
HHW includes leftover household products that are unstable, corrosive or toxic. Products such as paints, cleaners, solvents, oils, batteries, herbicides and pesticides can contain hazardous ingredients and require special handling and disposal.
- EPA has launched an online tool for the public to track the agency’s progress in the Northern California counties. This interactive tool allows the public to see a map of the fire-affected areas and track progress in the field by work zone. The map is updated daily and available at: response.epa.gov/2020californiafires
- In Monterey County, EPA teams have completed 72% of Phase 1 assessments.
- In Santa Cruz County, EPA teams have completed 74% of Phase 1 assessments.
- In San Mateo County, EPA teams have completed 50% of Phase 1 assessments.
- EPA has moved into Butte, Fresno, and Santa Clara County and is establishing staging areas in preparation for the collection of HHW items.
For additional information on EPA’s response activities, please visit: www.epa.gov/2020cafireresponse