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Governor Issues Executive Order to Help Remove Hazardous Waste

Posted on October 21, 2017


Link to Governor’s Press Release


SACRAMENTO – Building on efforts to help streamline the recovery in communities impacted by California’s devastating wildfires, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued an executive order allowing the federal government to help with the initial removal of hazardous waste that poses an imminent threat to public health and safety.

The executive order allows qualified professionals at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to assist state and local officials in immediately removing visible hazardous debris such as batteries, flammable liquids, asbestos siding, paint and pipe insulation from burned homes. Initial removal of these hazards helps protect public health and the environment and allows residents and cleanup crews to more safely enter properties and continue the long-term recovery efforts.

Last week, Governor Brown declared a state of emergency for the counties of Solano, Napa, Sonoma, Yuba, Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Nevada and Orange due to the impacts of numerous wildfires, and this week issued an executive order to cut red tape and help streamline recovery efforts. The Governor has also secured a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to support the state and local response to the fires, within 24 hours of making the request, and federal direct aid for residents of Napa, Sonoma, Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Yuba, Orange and Nevada counties who have suffered losses due to the fires. Workers in these counties who have lost jobs or had work hours substantially reduced as a result of the fires are also now eligible for federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance benefits.

Last week, Governor Brown traveled to areas impacted by the fires with U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris and joined the state’s top emergency management officials for a briefing at the State Operations Center in Mather, and this week met with the FEMA administrator to discuss ongoing wildfire response and recovery efforts and visited firefighters and first responders in Orange County.

More information on California’s emergency response to the fires is available at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services website.

The full text of today’s executive order is below:


WHEREAS on October 9, 2017, I proclaimed a state of emergency to exist in Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Sonoma, and Yuba Counties as a result of the numerous wildfires burning in those counties; and

WHEREAS these wildfires destroyed over 6,000 homes and other structures, creating extraordinary amounts of hazardous debris; and

WHEREAS the local health officers of Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Sonoma, and Yuba Counties have all proclaimed local health emergencies, pursuant to Health and Safety Code section 101080, as a result of this hazardous debris; and

WHEREAS this hazardous debris, which includes asbestos siding, pipe insulation, paint, batteries, and flammable liquid, poses an imminent threat to public health and safety. The debris is filled with dangerous toxins including heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, and lethal asbestos and must be removed cautiously and expeditiously; and

WHEREAS immediate removal is necessary to protect the public health and welfare, the environment, and for the economy to recover; and

WHEREAS the United States Environmental Protection Agency has the expertise and resources necessary to complete the debris removal work, the sheer volume of which is beyond the immediate capability of the State of California; and

WHEREAS the Office of Emergency Services has requested assistance from the United States Environmental Protection Agency in removing this hazardous debris; and

NOW, THEREFORE, I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, in accordance with the authority vested in me by the Constitution and statutes of the State of California, and in particular, sections 8567 and 8571 of the Government Code, do hereby issue the following orders to become effective immediately:

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the United Stated Environmental Protection Agency, or any other Federal agency performing work at the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, shall have full power to provide mutual aid to the State of California and any areas affected by a local health emergency and will have the authority to enter private property in all impacted counties to remove debris that may contain hazardous substances, and to conduct any testing appropriate to ensure the hazards are mitigated. Any section of the Health and Safety Code permitting the immediate removal of this hazardous debris, including but not limited to section 101085, shall apply to and include the actions of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, or any other Federal agency performing work at the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as if those agencies were a political subdivision or state agency for all purposes related to this operation.

This Order is not intended to, and does not, create any rights or benefits, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity, against the State of California, its agencies, departments, entities, officers, employees, or any other person.

I FURTHER DIRECT that as soon as hereafter possible, this Order be filed in the Office of the Secretary of State and that widespread publicity and notice be given of this Order.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 21st day of October 2017.

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