As California agencies begin the cleanup process after a devastating season of wildfires, the challenges are immense.
Debris removal from the Camp Fire alone is expected to take a year, in what has been described as the “biggest wildfire cleanup job in history” – an effort the state’s emergency services director called “herculean.”
There are more than 18,000 structures and more than 8 million tons of concrete, metal, ash and contaminated soil that have to be removed, according to news reports.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has estimated that the Camp, Woolsey and Hill fires left behind more than 15 million tons of debris – including a wide variety of toxic substances.
The rainy season will bring additional challenges to the job, requiring steps to ensure that contaminated soil doesn’t spread into other areas or waterways.
It’s a topic that California’s public risk management officials have dealt with before, but are now confronting at an unprecedented scope.
At the Public Agency Risk Management Association (PARMA) 2019 Conference and Expo in Anaheim February 10-13, the discussion around assessing wildfire impact and secondary environmental issues will be far from hypothetical.
Dealing with the Stew of Toxic Chemicals Left Behind
While wildfire cleanup is always as much about risk prevention as much as it is about restoration, at the scale that California is facing, the potential for a secondary catastrophe looms over everyone involved in the current effort.
Among the toxic chemicals that may be left behind, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control cites “radioactive isotopes from burned up antique crockware, cupboards of incinerated household cleaners and asbestos from old siding” according to a Nov. 29, 2018 New York Times report.
Join Omega at Public Agency Risk Management Conference
“Assessing Wildfire Impacts – It’s More than the Heat” is among dozens of information sessions at the conference. Attendees can also stop by Booth 132 to meet with members of the Omega Environmental team and learn more about wildfire assessment and remediation services.
We have decades of experience managing the environmental issues that follow in the wake of wildfire, along with assessment, abatement and consulting services for managing asbestos, lead, mold and PCB contamination, among other hazardous materials.
We partner with government agencies, property management companies, environmental engineering firms, general contractors and insurance brokers for reliable, compliant and cost-effective management of environmental contamination and hazards.