In response to wildfires in Oregon’s Baker, Douglas, Grant and Wallowa counties, state Department of Environmental Quality Director Dick Pedersen signed an emergency order waiving state regulations on waste disposal Monday.
“This action strikes the right balance between public safety and protection of natural resources,” said Pedersen, who was granted authority for the emergency order through an executive order issued Sept. 10 by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.
Specifically, the emergency order will allow communities to more easily create temporary solid waste disposal sites, waiving rules and state fees. This will help those areas affected by the wildfires by allowing them to remove debris, clean up their communities and rebuild their homes.
The order also waived fees and rules for septic systems and asbestos management, though the latter should still be addressed by people cleaning up debris, especially ash, which could also include mercury, lead, cadmium and chromium. These potential health risks are generally found in small amounts, according to Pederson.
The emergency order will be in effect until Dec. 31, 2016.