Oct 20, 2020

EPA crews use color system to remove hazardous waste for Carmel Fire

Keeping track of what's safe and what's not during fire waste removal is getting clearer. The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, has a color system to mark dangerous items left behind at destroyed properties.

In phase one of waste removal, EPA crews are looking to remove all the hazards from sites, which includes cleaning supplies, paints, etc. The first step, Phase I, is needed before bulldozing of the damage.

If the first phase is not completed before bulldozing over a burned out property, "that could be hazardous for the workers who come in to do that second phase of debris removal," said Jeremy Johnstone, an Environmental Protection Agency task force leader.

It's not about what a person sees on a burned out property, it's what most people visiting don't see, that needs professional eyes.

"The ash can be hazardous, there can be asbestos on site, you can get on skin and hair," Johnstone said.

Those are a few examples of hazardous materials on a site everyone who visits, should be aware of. The EPA has a color coded system to help.

Items they have marked with white spray paint are deemed safe and should be treated as debris. An orange mark means the item is hazardous such as unexploded ammunition.

A pink mark is the assumption of asbestos, to be actually tested in phase two.

This consist of a lot of work for crews who are averaging about an hour a property under new COVID-19 protocols. The new rules include keeping smaller, similar work crews together. For example crews working on Trampa Canyon Road near Cachagua Rd. in Carmel Valley, will stick with their same groups as they move to different properties

Johnstone said, "we are maintaining social spacing. In the after hours we are not hanging out having drinks or dinner together." "We're also getting regualry tested. Each individual is getting tested twice a week."

Once phase one is completed for the Carmel fire, EPA crews will move to do phase one for the River and then Dolan Fire. Once phase one is completed on a property, phase two can begin.

Read full from source: