Counties, State, EPA, to Begin Wildfire Cleanup and Recovery Efforts

Cleanup from the recent wildfires and wind damage is set to begin in eight Oregon counties as county officials, Oregon’s Debris Management Task Force, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have finalized plans to remove and dispose of hazardous materials from burned properties—free of charge to property owners. Removal of household hazardous waste and fire debris is required before property owners can rebuild from the fires. 

Cleanup crews plan to begin operations in Jackson County the week of October 19 and will expand to the other counties shortly afterward, pending the completion by property owners of “Right of Entry” (ROE) access agreements that will allow cleanup crews onto their property. The ROE for a property must be signed before the county and state cleanup process can begin. 

Hazardous waste cleanup is provided free of charge to property owners in Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn and Marion counties. FEMA and the State of Oregon are funding the work.

Affected Oregon counties are in varying stages of developing their ROE forms. Property owners are urged to check their county’s website (list below) or for more information about the ROE process in their county. In preparation for filling out the forms, property owners should identify their property parcel number from their county tax assessor’s office and collect insurance information.

Household hazardous waste can include but is not limited to: fuel and petroleum, car batteries, antifreeze, used oil filters, solvents, fertilizers, pesticides, propane tanks, high pressure cylinders, disinfectants, aerosols, paint, bleach, radiological sources or devices, pool chemicals and ammunition. Cleanup crews will also identify and dispose of bulk asbestos materials when possible.

How the process will work

STEP 1: Household hazardous waste removal – No cost to property owner

  1. Once a property owner completes an ROE form with their county, crews will evaluate the property for any overhead hazards (impacted trees) or other physical hazards and conduct air monitoring and visual observations to identify locations of household hazardous waste.
  2. Crews will then remove those items from the property for safe disposal.

STEP 2: Ash and debris removal

  1. Cleanup crews then will remove burned-out structures—possibly including building foundations—ash and other debris.
  2. When this step is complete, property owners will be able to begin the rebuilding process.

State, county and federal partners are actively working to develop funding and implementation options for Step 2: Ash and debris removal.

The State of Oregon’s Debris Management Task Force is overseeing a coordinated effort by federal, state and local government agencies to address hazardous waste and debris removal. The task force consists of the Office of Emergency Management, Oregon Department of Transportation and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.