A few days ago the Statesman Journal ran a story about clean-up efforts after hundreds of houses were destroyed in the Beachie Creek fire that ravaged the Santiam Canyon in early September.
Here's some excerpts from "EPA hauls hazardous waste from homes burned in Beachie Creek fire."
Static from Geiger counters and creaks from metal echoed as crews in hazmat suits carefully inspected and sorted rubble where a house once stood off E. Central Road in Gates.
The property, devastated by the Beachie Creek Fire in early September, is one of many sites across the state being cleared of hazardous waste by crews from the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
...The EPA's cleanup effort is the first in a two-step process funded by FEMA and the State of Oregon. The service is free to residents who submit Right of Entry forms.
Crews are collecting material ranging from bleach containers to batteries, paint to propane tanks —"anything that is compromised and potentially threatens public health," said Randy Nattis, incident commander for EPA.
So far, the teams have been able to clean up about 450 properties across Oregon, Nattis said. Officials anticipate the process will take several weeks, and each property can cost about $75,000.
The goal is to have the hazardous debris removed to start phase two: ash and trash cleanup.
Problem is, now it's late October. As you can read below, earlier this month someone sent me their concerns about metal from burned homes being handled at Cherry City Metal in north Salem.
It appears that this was debris being removed from the Santiam Canyon before environmental agencies began to put into place protocols for separating out hazardous waste from non-hazardous waste. Here's what I was told:
Regarding that last observation, I was sent links to two related brief articles about the long-term impact of wildfires on water quality in streams and rivers. Since Salem gets its drinking water from the Santiam River, this certainly is something city officials need to be monitoring. See: