Where Do I take My Fire Debris Waste?
That’s the question many homeowners and building owners have been asking lately. Despite all the chaos and destruction, the fires are causing throughout the State of California, we’re actually fairly ‘early’ in the cleanup process for most fires. If you’re already at a point where you’re ready to clean up your property and are trying to figure out where to take the debris, then you’ve probably found out that’s not a simple question – we’ll give you the short answer first, then explain the long answer and which could be best for you.
The short answer is you that need to determine where the closest landfill is located, then you need to contact that landfill to see what the waste profiling requirements are for that landfill. Each landfill has their own unique process for profiling waste, and while there are some standards across the state for what’s classified as “hazardous waste” there is some wiggle room landfills have to accept fire debris from natural disasters. The fastest way your waste gets profiled is to find a consulting outfit that’s experienced and knowledgeable about the process; that outfit will need to survey the fire debris on your property and sample any materials that may contain asbestos. During the same site visit, they’ll also collect a sample of the waste stream – most frequently this is a composite sample of a cross section of your waste stream (i.e. you’re attempting to get a sample that’s is representative of all the fire debris from your property). That waste stream sample is sent to a CA-certified laboratory for analysis of whatever your local landfill requires for waste profiling (typically at minimum, this includes metals, PCBs, and pH). Once you get the results back, you’ll prepare a waste profile report and submit that report to the landfill for a decision on whether their facility can accept your waste.
If you’re in a hurry and just want to get the process over with, we get it! Many will go this route. However, if insurance coverage or money is an issue, then you could benefit by waiting to see if the fire that destroyed your property will be declared a federal disaster. We anticipate the larger fires currently burning (i.e. Caldor Fire, Dixie Fire) will be declared federal disasters – which will likely trigger California to issue an emergency waiver for landfills, which will ultimately accept fire debris and waste from a forest fire. (Update: a waiver was issued to Waste Management in Anderson, CA for the Dixie, McFarland, and Monument fires.) That waiver allows the landfills to waive many requirements typical of waste profiling. Identifying the presence or absence of asbestos in the fire debris will almost certainly still be required (this has been the case with all major fires in recent years). If you’re located in an area where a fire is declared a federal disaster, then federal and state money will likely cover much of the fire debris assessment and disposal costs. By waiting to deal with the fire debris, and “opting-in” to the federal/state run clean-up programs, you wouldn’t pay the upfront profiling costs or the disposal and clean-up costs for your property. The opt-in/opt-out process typically becomes a heavily debated topic in a local community; we’ve written a guide for property owners affected by previous fires and you can review that guide here.
Call Guzi-West Today for Experienced Fire Debris Waste Characterization in California!
We know it’s a gut-wrenching process to go through. We sincerely hope everyone is safe and healthy and that the clean-up and recovery process runs smoothly for each of you.
If you’ve been affected by a wildfire and want a company you can trust to help you with fire debris characterization and disposal, we’ve got your back! Please contact the Guzi-West team today at 888-351-8189 ext. 5 if you have further questions or need additional information.