Emergency Order Of The Sonoma County Health Officer Prohibiting The Endangerment Of The Community Through The Unsafe Removal, Transport, And Disposal Of Fire Debris
Santa Rosa, CA – October 24, 2017 at 4:45 PM – WHEREAS the potential for widespread toxic exposures and threats to public health and the environment exists in the aftermath of a major wildfire disaster. Debris and ash from residential structure fires contain hazardous substances and the health effects of hazardous substances releases after a wildfire are welldocumented.
WHEREAS the combustion of building materials such as siding, roofing tiles, and insulation result in dangerous ash that may contain asbestos, heavy metals, and other hazardous materials. Household hazardous waste such as paint, gasoline, cleaning products, pesticides, compressed gas cylinders, and chemicals may have been stored in homes, garages, or sheds that may have burned in the fire, also producing hazardous materials.
WHEREAS exposure to hazardous substances may lead to acute and chronic health effects, and may cause long-term public health and environmental impacts. Uncontrolled hazardous materials and debris pose significant threats to public health through inhalation of dust particles and contamination of drinking water supplies. Improper handling can expose workers to toxic materials, and improper transport and disposal of fire debris can spread hazardous substances throughout the community.
WHEREAS areas that have been closed to reentry by residents and the public for safety reasons will be opened in the near future.
WHEREAS the California Office of Emergency Services is establishing a voluntary Fire Debris Clearance Program to ensure the safe removal, transport, and disposal hazardous fire debris.
WHEREAS property owners that do not participate in the Fire Debris Clearance Program must conduct their private debris removal, transport, and disposal in a manner that does not endanger the community and that complies with all legal requirements.
WHEREAS, the Sonoma County Health Officer finds that:
- The Sonoma Complex Fire has created hazardous waste conditions in Sonoma County in the form of contaminated debris from household hazardous waste/materials and structural debris resulting from the destruction of thousands of structures.
- This hazardous waste debris poses a substantial present or potential hazard to human health and the environment unless its removal and disposal is performed in a manner that will protect the public health and safety.
WHEREAS, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors has proclaimed that the Sonoma Complex Fire has resulted in a local emergency.
WHEREAS Health and Safety Code section 101040 authorizes the Health Officer to require protective measures in the context of a local emergency.
NOW THEREFORE, the Sonoma County Health Officer ORDERS that:
- No removal of fire debris from the Sonoma Complex Fire shall occur from residential sites without a hazardous materials inspection conducted either by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or California Department of Toxic Substance Control. The term “removal of fire debris” as used in this order includes all cleanup of fire debris, but it does not include the removal of personal property from residential sites.
- Pending the enactment of additional requirements to address the Sonoma Complex Fire disaster clean up, no debris bins shall be provided to property owners for the purposes of the removal of fire debris without the authorization of the County of Sonoma.
- Pending the enactment of additional requirements to address the Sonoma Complex Fire disaster clean up, property owners that choose to opt out of the Fire Debris Clearance Program must register and obtain the permission of the County of Sonoma before beginning the removal of fire debris.
- This order applies in the incorporated and unincorporated areas of Sonoma County impacted by the Sonoma Complex Fire.
Karen Milman, MD, MPH
Sonoma County Health Officer