As the next step in Oregon’s wildfire rebuilding and recovery, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been asked by the Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA) and the State of Oregon to collect household hazardous materials from burned properties to protect residents and to ensure these materials are disposed of properly and safely.
To accomplish this task and aid Oregon’s recovery, EPA is now assembling teams and setting up a temporary equipment staging area to help residents in Marion County and surrounding counties recover from the fire and begin rebuilding their lives. This Response Staging Area will be similar to the one recently established in Central Point, Oregon, as part of EPA’s operations in Jackson County.
The Response Staging Area will occupy 5.4 acres of a parking area within the Oregon State Fair and Expo Center, located at 2330 17th Street NE, in Salem. Additional, satellite “Transfer Station” areas are being planned for other areas as cleanup operations expand and accelerate.
The staging area is expected to be operational by October 26, 2020. EPA is deeply grateful for the State Fair, State of Oregon and City of Salem’s assistance and flexibility, allowing EPA’s Response Staging Area to temporarily share the fairgrounds property and assist the community in recovery.
EPA and their contractors will operate the facility, which will be secured 24 hours a day, where response workers will evaluate, organize and consolidate materials that EPA field teams will be recovering from burned properties in the area. It will also serve as the main assembly, assignment and dispatch point for agency responders and contractors each morning as they head to area worksites.
To protect workers and neighbors, air monitors will be used around the work site to be sure asbestos fibers and other harmful chemicals are not released to the air. In addition, locals may see the workers in HAZMAT suits to protect them from prolonged exposure to potentially harmful materials. EPA response officials ask everyone except authorized personnel to avoid the area due to the expected volume of vehicle traffic and construction activity over the next few months.
Fire-affected Oregon property owners now have a dedicated phone number – 541-225-5549 – to ask questions about EPA’s work at their property or to provide additional details about their property that will help speed the EPA removal work. The hotline offers service in both English and Spanish. Property owners now have another tool, the EPA Fire Recovery Story Map to view work progress in the area and get the latest information available about their property.
EPA and state officials want to stress that Response Staging Areas are NOT Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) drop-off centers for the community. Only authorized personnel will be allowed access to the site. Residents should contact their city or county recycling coordinators or public works departments to learn more about HHW collection services in their area.
Once the materials and containers arrive on site in sealed plastic containers and packaging, they will be inspected, organized and secured for shipment. They will be removed promptly by truck to be safely disposed of at a licensed & permitted disposal facility. Materials handled at the site may include:
- BBQ & outdoor stove propane tanks
- Cylinders, contents unknown, that can be transported safely
- Batteries, ballasts, full and partial containers of household chemicals
- Pool chemicals and household cleaners, polishes, varnish solvents and degreasers
The Response Staging Area is expected to operate between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm, seven days a week, for approximately two months. EPA expects moderate levels of vehicle activity during operating hours, there will be bright lights illuminating the area for safety and unfortunately some unavoidable noise. Response officials are thanking local residents in advance for their patience and understanding during the construction, operation and dismantling of the facility when EPA’s work in the area is complete.
EPA’s Response Staging Area is part of federal, state and local actions responding to the recent tragic wildfires, aimed at helping Oregon residents recover and rebuild their lives. For more information about the Wildfire Response please visit: Wildfire.oregon.gov/cleanup