Sonoma Co. declares hazardous materials emergency in wake of flooding

Image 1 of 2

The Sonoma County Department of Health Services issued a household hazardous waste warning on Tuesday in the aftermath of last week's storm and subsequent widespread flooding.

Interim County Health Officer Dr. Karen Holbrook issued the warning, which declared several household items as hazardous, including adhesives, paint, paint additives, grease/rust solvents, wood/metal cleaners, household polishes/cleaners, cosmetics, lighter fluids, pesticides, automotive fluid/parts, batteries and broken thermometers, all of which county officials said cannot be disposed of in normal garbage.

It is unusual for a county to declare a local health emergency, but this flood, having washed an enormous amount of toxic materials from structures out into the environment, says the county, justifies it.

"There's a tremendous amount of household hazardous waste from over 2,500 homes and businesses that were impacted by the flooding. This is an area where there's lot of people in and around and pets, so we want to collect it all up and dispose of it properly so there's no immediate exposures," said Sonoma County Health Director Dr. Karen Holbrook.

The county wants people to hold on to their toxics until Saturday when they can be taken to Sunset Beach between Forestville and Gurneville where the state Department of Toxic Substances Control will have competent toxic waste haulers to collect the material up and transport them to a high level toxic dump.

"They are licensed haulers, processors. They know all of the regulations and requirements to handle this, so,they're the right entity to come out and help," said recycler Fred Stemmler of Recology of Sonoma/Marin. In the meantime, the amount of non-toxic debris continues to mount as people clean out their properties.

Recology of Sonoma/Marin, one of several haulers, is picking up full debris boxes from one of a half dozen emergency collection sites. There, people can being to drop off their debris. "We're running about 120 drop boxes pre pay out of six locations that flood debris is being accumulated and dropped off at," said Stmmel.

According to the county, flooding affected 2,572 homes near the Russian River and other low-lying areas.