IMPORTANT UPDATE: This article may contain information that is now outdated. Please see Don't clean up your own fire debris for the most current information on RogueValleyRebuilds.org.
Burned properties may contain hazards such as asbestos fibers, toxic chemicals, unstable trees, and dangerous structures. Complying with state and federal hazardous waste laws is complex, and contractors completing this work must have special licenses and certifications. Lastly, insurance policies may not cover the cleanup's full cost if not completed correctly.
"With property owner permission, over the next few weeks, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, using EPA Strike Teams, will begin to remove household hazardous wastes from burned properties.” noted EOC Director John Vial. "This is the first step in the cleanup process, and our goal is to make this process as easy for property owners as possible and to ensure that it is completed in a comprehensive, safe, and organized fashion."
The state has formed a Debris Management Taskforce and is currently working with local governments to develop strategies to complete the massive cleanup. Though this process takes time, there are significant benefits to individual property owners. Getting the whole burn scar area cleaned up systematically will help maintain property values, avoid blight, and ensure compliance with state and federal laws.
If you want government to lead and help pay for removal of hazardous waste and debris from your property, you must complete a Right Of Entry form to grant permission for the removal to occur. There are several ways you may fill out the form to participate:
Online at www.jacksoncounty.org/ROE, or download and complete the Widfire ROE form of your choice (see Documents to Download below) and mail or bring the form to this address:
ROE Form Enclosed
10 South Oakdale Ave., Room 100
Medford, OR 97501
Or, you can email a scan or photo of the signed form to ColemaRK@jacksoncounty.org.
You can call the Right of Entry Processing Center help line at: 1-682-800-5737 if you have any questions regarding this program or filling out the form. If you choose not to participate in the program we would ask that you let us know that by checking the "I wish not to participate" box, signing and sending back so we do not bother you again on this. Forms need to be returned by October 16, 2020.
If a property owner chooses to remove debris themselves, they should receive clearance from local authorities, mitigate hazards, and wear an N95 mask, gloves, safety glasses, and sturdy shoes. Avoid rinsing debris or ash into storm drains.
For general questions about debris removal, residents can call the Jackson County citizen hotline: (541) 776-7338.
Residents of Talent can contact their city at (541) 535-1566.
Residents of Phoenix can contact their city at email@example.com.
Contractors with questions about certification of hazardous materials should call DEQ, Medford Office: (541) 776-6010.