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6 months after Camp Fire: Debris storage impacts

Where all that non-hazardous waste is bring trucked off to, and how safe the storage process actually is. Hayley Watts reports.

Posted: May 8, 2019 4:57 PM
Updated: May 9, 2019 1:33 PM

"At our stop light here we don't normally see traffic backed up but especially early in the mornings we see traffic backed up all the way to the store" said Bil Patchen, owner of Nu Way Market.

Highway 99 runs right through Los Molinos, and since February, so do roughly 1,000 dump trucks - every day.

"Everybody's welcomed everybody that's had to move here, the only slight complaint I have here is the traffic, we're not used to it! All the dump trucks," said Patchen.

Contracted crews are trucking about 6,000 tons of Camp Fire debris 75 miles each day from Paradise to the landfill in Anderson.

And while the extra traffic is good for business… "A lot of construction crews that come in and get their stuff before they leave," said Patchen.

Some are concerned.

"They tell you it's supposed to be non-toxic but how much is really coming in and how much is actually toxic or not?” asked one woman who lives near the landfill.

The wildfire ash and contaminated soil in the trucks is not technically hazardous.

BUT CalRecycle says it contains tiny bits of dust, dirt, and soot that contain trace amounts of lead, arsenic, asbestos, and other dangerous materials.

The landfill has lined cells to keep it out of the groundwater.

As for the trip to the dump?

The debris is fully plastic wrapped in the dump trucks then tarped before it goes out.

Many who live along West Anderson or Gas Point Road say there are other hazards.

“It's way bad – the cars, the pool, it's inside the house. Not just is it bringing them in but it's like they're bringing part of it out with them with all the dirt and dust on the roads," said one woman.

Shasta County Public Works just issued a permit for Waste Management to get a sweeper out on the roads.

But the mess is just one problem.

"I've witnessed several wrecks on gas Point and West Anderson. I sat there and waited nearly 20 minutes and there's trucks coming from both ways and the truck drivers out there trying to direct traffic. It's horrible," the woman explained.

Several people said they're are ok with the inconvenience - for now.

"It's temporary and it needs to be done; those people need to get back to a normal life and I don't know how long it's going to take them, but it has to be done and we're all understanding of that," said Patchen.

Still, there's a long way to go.

In two months, crews have cleared 1,800 of about 13,000 properties.

That's only about 7 percent complete.

"We understand a lot of it's coming from Paradise but there's landfills in Redding – to us it feels like it's all coming here," a woman from Anderson explained.

The Anderson landfill still has enough space to last about 100 years.

The landfill in Wheatland is also taking on a large share of the waste, and most metal and concrete is recycled in Oroville.

A small amount is going to the landfill in Chico.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 122168

Reported Deaths: 4444
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles596922532
Riverside8303345
San Diego7798283
Orange6783165
San Bernardino5650209
Alameda364197
Santa Clara2850144
San Francisco264443
Imperial249330
Kern246245
San Mateo224484
Tulare208392
Fresno194437
Santa Barbara171414
Contra Costa154738
Sacramento149058
Ventura119035
Kings11876
San Joaquin102436
Stanislaus79230
Monterey62110
Sonoma5934
Solano55922
Marin52517
Merced3107
San Luis Obispo2881
Placer2599
Santa Cruz2192
Yolo21624
Madera1293
Napa1263
Humboldt1044
El Dorado980
San Benito962
Butte601
Nevada491
Sutter482
Del Norte470
Shasta404
Mono371
Mendocino330
Yuba311
Lake300
Inyo201
Glenn170
Calaveras160
Mariposa161
Amador100
Siskiyou90
Colusa70
Tehama61
Tuolumne50
Lassen50
Plumas40
Alpine20
Sierra10
Trinity10
Unassigned00
Chico
Broken Clouds
82° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 82°
Oroville
Clear
87° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 87°
Paradise
Broken Clouds
82° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 82°
Chester
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 74°
Red Bluff
Clear
85° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 85°
Willows
Broken Clouds
82° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 82°
Today will be nice but much cooler weather this weekend with a chance of showers and thunderstorms, mostly in the north valley and mountains. We heat up again next week.
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