California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Disaster Preparedness and Response Archives

2003 Southern California Wildfires

As the Southern California wildfires emergency moved into the recovery phase, the California Integrated Waste Management Board, now called California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) and local enforcement agencies (LEA) intensified preparations to assist local governments with debris management and disposal, household hazardous waste collection and storage, and ash cleanup and disposal.

  • Debris Management. Including information on emergency waivers, facilities, and recyclers.
  • Waste Tracking. Information for local jurisdictions about deducting disaster waste tonnage from annual reports to the CalRecycle.
  • Guidance Documents. Useful documents from the CalRecycle, other CalEPA agencies, the County of San Diego, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
  • Contacts (CalRecycle and local)
  • Information for Individuals. How to get assistance through FEMA, as well as debris management information.

Proclamations of Emergency were issued by local, state and federal governments in the following counties:

  • Los Angeles
  • Riverside
  • San Bernardino
  • San Diego
  • Ventura

Disaster Debris Management

Guidance on disaster debris management, including selecting and securing temporary storage sites, is available in Local Enforcement Agency Advisory #43--Disaster Assistance, as well as in the Disaster Plan. LEA Advisory #43 also contains guidance on financial and technical assistance, as well as information to collect for the CalRecycle.

Waste Facilities

Emergency Waiver of Standards. LEAs in the above and surrounding counties have already issued emergency waivers of standards for solid waste handling and disposal, and more waiver requests are pending. The processing of waiver requests appears to be running smoothly; however, should it be needed, guidance on the issuance of emergency waivers is available in LEA Advisory #41--Emergency Waiver of Standards.

Solid Waste Facilities. The following documents list names, locations, and contact information for facilities and operations in California. If the LEA has issued a permit waiver, or a waiver is pending, they are identified (shaded cells). Note: Updated Dec. 17, 2003

Household Hazardous Waste Facilities. This document lists all the active permanent and temporary HHW collection programs and their contacts. They take most HHW waste with some restrictions. It also includes "Recycle Only Waste" drop off location and contacts (batteries, oil, oil filters, latex paint, antifreeze, and other universal waste).

Auto Dismantling and Recycling

Disaster Waste Tracking

Jurisdictions may deduct disaster waste tonnage in their annual reports to the Board, so that it will not negatively impact their solid waste diversion rates. In order for jurisdictions to be able to claim this disposal reduction, it is very important that disaster waste be tracked at disposal facilities.

Disaster waste needs to be tracked separately. For each disaster waste load received, facilities need to record the tons by jurisdiction. Applicable jurisdictions will need to be able to obtain an accounting that shows how much disaster waste originated from their jurisdiction. If this data is not tracked in this manner, it is very difficult for jurisdictions to substantiate a disposal reduction and thus, negatively impacts their ability to achieve their mandated diversion goals.

Local government and emergency personnel have the most specific knowledge of areas that burned and facilities that are�or soon will be�receiving disaster waste. We ask that you assist us in notifying all applicable facilities regarding these record-keeping needs.

Guidance Documents


Note: FEMA reimbursement requirements may have changed since the CalRecycle's Disaster Plan was adopted. Please go to the FEMA Web site for up-to-date information on reimbursement requirements.

  • Asbestos-Containing Ash and Disaster Debris. Solid waste landfills accepting ash or other disaster debris that contains greater than 1 percent friable asbestos by weight that are not already permitted to accept such waste must obtain an emergency waiver specific to this waste type pursuant to the procedure set forth in California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Division 7, Chapter 3, Article 3. Where the Enforcement Agency has issued a waiver, the ash or debris containing greater than 1 percent friable asbestos should be handled in accordance with California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Section 17897.18 "Design and Operating Requirements" for solid waste facilities that dispose of asbestos-containing waste.

Other CalEPA Boards, Departments, and Offices

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Affected local governments in the five designated counties may be eligible to receive up to 75 percent of the eligible cost for debris removal and emergency protective measures that were undertaken in response to the fires. The emergency declaration also makes cost-shared funding available to the state for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.

FEMA brochures and information on specific disaster debris issues are located at the following sites:


Last updated: September 27, 2007
Disaster Preparedness and Response
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