PHOENIX, Ore. — Contractors from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have nearly completed the clean-up of hazardous household waste in the Almeda Fire burn area — Phase 1 of the recovery operation.
Jackson County said on Wednesday that EPA crews have finished the hazardous waste clean-up on more than 90 percent of properties where owners have completed Right of Entry forms. By Friday, those crews will begin packing up and heading off to other disaster areas around the state.
(Photo courtesy of Sean Roberts)
However, some property owners have still not completed the necessary ROE forms to allow for clean-up, Jackson County said. Officials previously said that some two-thirds had been signed and returned.
“We are working hard to get Rights of Entry from all property owners so that we can get the cleanup going before EPA pulls out,” said John Vial, director of Jackson County's Emergency Operation Center. “At some point, EPA will not be here and this opportunity will be lost.”
Some people have shared that they are reluctant to sign the ROE forms, believing that the government clean-up efforts will cut into their insurance funds for rebuilding.
“There is a lot of misinformation information out there that is confusing fire-affected property owners,” Vial continued. “By signing a ROE and allowing the state to cleanup your property, no federal, state or local agency will recoup money from your insurance that would have otherwise gone toward rebuilding your home.”
Vial has underlined on multiple occasions that these agencies only seek out funds that are either set aside specifically for clean-up, or funds left over after a lump-sum insurance payment has already been put toward rebuilding.
The cities of Talent, Phoenix, and Jackson County continue to encourage property owners to sign the Right of Entry forms as soon as possible. People are discouraged from trying to clean up properties on their own.
A small team from the EPA will remain in the area to do remaining clean-ups as those ROE forms continue to trickle in, Jackson County said.