USA – SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Toxic Substances Control, or DTSC, has removed more than 20 tons of household hazardous waste left in the wake of California’s 2020 wildfires, the most active wildfire season in recorded history.
In record time, DTSC’s emergency response teams assessed 3,200 homes and residential properties impacted by the year’s unprecedented wildfire activity and will this month begin the cleanup of a remaining 100 homes.
Removing toxic waste from the fire-damaged homes is part of a wider effort by Governor Newsom to help communities impacted by destructive wildfires rebuild and recover.
DTSC’s operations are the first phase of the Consolidated Debris Removal Program, jointly managed by DTSC, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, or Cal OES, and the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, or CalRecycle.
“We once again showed what we can accomplish when we work together,” said DTSC Director Meredith Williams. “To have completed the cleanup of so many properties in three months is a testament to our deep experience with statewide wildfire emergency response, strong partnerships with local communities, and our unshakeable commitment to protect the people and environment of California.”
DTSC is partnering with 18 counties across the state to remove the waste at no cost to residents and business owners.
In 2019, California was the first state nationally to establish the Interagency Recovery Coordination (opens new window) functions – a federal model to directly assist town and county officials with long-term recovery needs and initiatives.
“Despite being faced with the most active wildfire season California has ever seen amid the ongoing pandemic, incredible progress is being made in removing hazardous waste and restoring access to several communities that have been affected,” said Cal OES Deputy Director Ryan Buras. “The work we have accomplished here is the result of effective collaboration efforts between local and state government agencies and swift actions to address immediate threats to life, public health, safety, and property.”
In September, DTSC began removing the household waste that poses a risk to people, animals, and the environment. Many household substances affected by fire damage, like batteries, asbestos, sidings and paint, can release toxic chemicals into the air.
These toxicants can also infiltrate the soil and runoff into rivers and streams, contaminating watersheds and sources of drinking water.
Many impacted communities have now advanced to the second phase of the State’s emergency cleanup response, where local governments, CalRecycle, and Cal OES collaborate to remove the remaining structural ash, debris, and hazard trees.
To enroll for this additional cleanup, property owners must submit a right-of-entry permit to their local government by Feb. 1. Links to county permit forms and local information may be found on the Cal OES website.
DTSC tracks wildfire hazardous waste cleanup on a public, real-time dashboard mapping system. Additional information on DTSC’s emergency response to wildfires may be found on the department website.
Summary of 2020 Wildfires Residential Hazardous Waste Cleanup