Napa County public health officials are urging that people not begin debris removal from the Napa fire until the health risks can be evaluated.
Debris and ash from residential and commercial fires is likely hazardous and may contain toxic substances due to the presence of synthetic and hazardous materials, officials warned.
Older building materials may contain asbestos and lead. Household hazardous waste such as gasoline, cleaning products, pesticides, and other chemicals may have been stored in homes, garages, or sheds that burned in the fire.
These materials can become concentrated in ash and soil following a fire. It is important not to expose yourself, your family or others to any of these materials. Exposures can occur by sifting through ash and debris, causing ash to become airborne and inhaled or ingested.
Napa County is working to secure assistance from state agencies that will ensure proper handling and disposal of household hazardous waste products as well as debris and ash from the fire.
State agencies are expected to be in Napa as soon as next week to start.
Until all hazardous wastes have been removed and the property is cleared of debris and all contaminated soil has been removed, no demolition permits or building permits will be issued.
Because ash and debris generated in the fire may be considered hazardous waste, do not transport ash or debris to landfills and transfer stations. Debris and ash from burned structures should remain undisturbed until further instructions are issued.
This recommendation is in place to protect the health of anyone who may come into contact with the waste, including solid waste facility employees, solid waste haulers, and the public, the county said.
For residential property owners requiring debris removal, there will be two options:
(1) Sign up for the state program that will cover all hazardous waste removal, required sampling, and the removal of all debris and contaminated soil that will be done at no cost to the property owner.
Property owners will be required to submit a Right of Entry form and provide their home insurance policy name and number. These forms will be available next week and shall be returned to the Planning, Building and Environmental Services Department. More information on timing is forthcoming.
(2) Elect to have the clean-up and removal done on your own by submitting a Work Plan to the Planning, Building and Environmental Services Department for review and approval. This Work Plan must follow the same protocol and procedures that are required of and completed by the state. This work will be done entirely at the property owner’s expense. Information on what must be submitted in the Work Plan will be available next week.
Property owners should be advised that sampling must be conducted by a licensed professional and the samples analyzed an EPA certified testing laboratory. All debris removal must be completed by properly licensed professionals. The ash and soil must be disposed of at an appropriate landfill as required based on the sampling results. Documentation of this work will be required prior to any demolition or building permit being issued.
Commercial property owners requiring debris removal have the same two options however, the state will conduct the work at the property owner’s expense.
More information on both processes, as well as the state’s estimate on timing, will be forthcoming.