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EPA setting up Salem staging area at fairgrounds for wildfire cleanup efforts

Teams will be collecting hazardous materials from burned properties in Marion, Linn and other wildfire-stricken counties.

SALEM, Ore. — Federal agencies are ramping up wildfire cleanup efforts in Marion, Linn and other affected Oregon counties to protect residents from potentially hazardous materials on burned properties. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is assembling teams to collect household hazardous materials and ensure they are disposed of properly and safely. The EPA will also set up a Response Staging Area in the Oregon State Fair and Expo Center parking lot, the agency said in a news release. 

Response workers will use the temporary staging area to evaluate, organize and consolidate materials that EPA field teams recover. 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. 

The staging area is expected to operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily starting Oct. 26.

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Hazardous materials will arrive on site in sealed plastic containers and packaging. They will be inspected, organized and secured for shipment and will be removed promptly by truck to be safely disposed of at a licensed disposal facility. 

Materials that will be 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

To protect workers and neighbors, the EPA will use air monitors 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.

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The general public is asked to avoid the staging area due to an expected volume of vehicle traffic and construction activity over the next few months. 

Cleanup efforts by the EPA were requested from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state officials. 

EPA and state officials want to stress that Response Staging Area is not a Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) drop-off center 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.

Fire-affected Oregon property owners may call 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. 

Check out the EPA Fire Recovery Story Map to view the agency's progress. 

For more information about the wildfire response, visit wildfire.oregon.gov/cleanup

RELATED: Oregon homeowners stressed over state's wildfire cleanup process