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Posted 12/19/2017

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ROHNERT PARK, CA -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is 30 percent complete with debris removal operations in Lake, Mendocino, Napa and Sonoma Counties following the October 2017 wildfires.  564,163 tons of debris have been removed from properties in the four counties.

The Consolidated Debris Removal Program is a two-phase process - Phase I is the removal of household hazardous waste by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Sonoma and Napa Counties and by the California Department of Toxic Substance Control in Lake and Mendocino Counties. Phase II is the removal of other fire-related debris from structures destroyed by the fire, and is managed by USACE under the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Since the first property was cleared on Nov. 11, USACE contractors have completed debris removal on 1,641 properties - nearly 30% of the more than 5,500 Rights of Entry forms submitted by property owners to the four counties. 

After initial debris removal is complete, USACE conducts confirmation soil sampling to ensure there is no residual contamination and that the lot is safe for rebuilding.  The final step is the installation of erosion control methods before control of the property is returned to the county.  More than 653 properties have been returned to the four counties, who in turn notify each property owner. 

"The Corps of Engineers is committed to completing this mission in early 2018 in order to clear the way for communities to begin the rebuilding process," said Col. David G. Ray, commander of the USACE Sacramento District, who is managing the program.  "We have more than 200 Corps employees from all over the country on the ground, working with our partners from FEMA and the California Office of Emergency Services.  It's a team effort and we are honored to be part of helping our neighbors in Northern California recover."

Work will continue at a steady rate over the holidays, with a ramp-up expected in early January.

Community members should be aware of the risks posed by heavy construction equipment operating in and around work zones and additional truck traffic on the road.  Exercise caution and maintain a safe following distance at all time.  If you do not need to be in the area where active debris removal operations are ongoing, please stay away.

CONTACT:  NANCY ALLEN: 601 619 9844 or Nancy.E.Allen@usace.army.mil