The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued an emergency order Friday in an effort to aid people affected by devastating flood damage in Eastern Oregon.

The order temporarily suspends several DEQ environmental fees and rules to help streamline the cleanup of large amounts of flood debris.

“Right now there’s just so much debris that the current landfills aren’t able to handle it all,” said Oregon DEQ spokesman Harry Esteve. 

Severe flooding impacts travel along Interstate 84 in Eastern Oregon on Feb. 7. 2020, closing sections of the highway, including this portion outside Hermiston.

Severe flooding impacts travel along Interstate 84 in Eastern Oregon on Feb. 7. 2020, closing sections of the highway, including this portion outside Hermiston.

Oregon State Police via Twitter

The order calls for designated places where people can dispose of their debris. The order also lifts fees regarding repairs to onsite septic systems, many of which were damaged by floodwater.

“We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for these folks who have suffered this kind of hardship to get back to normal business,” Esteve said.

The emergency order comes after Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency for the hardest-hit counties earlier this month. The DEQ said an estimated 300 structures in Umatilla, Union and Wallowa counties have suffered significant damage.

According to the DEQ, the temporary order:

  • Suspends DEQ fees and rules related to residential asbestos project notifications and accumulation of asbestos waste. The order does not suspend rules related to the safe disposal of asbestos waste, and said people should follow the DEQ’s asbestos disposal requirements.
  • Suspends DEQ fees associated with repairing onsite septic systems damaged by the floods in Union and Wallowa counties.
  • Suspends DEQ fees associated with establishing temporary solid waste disposal sites. The DEQ asks for people to contact their waste hauler to learn about temporary disposal options.

Options for solid waste disposal except for asbestos include Humbert Landfill, Pendleton Transfer Station and Hermiston Transfer Station.

Regional landfills that can accept asbestos waste include Finley Buttes Landfill in Morrow County; Columbia Ridge and Chemical Waste Management of the Northwest landfills in Gilliam County; and Walla Walla Landfill in Washington.

The temporary order will expire on June 1 for the asbestos programs and Sept. 1 for solid waste and septic systems.