Pasadena-based Tetra Tech Tapped to Clean Up Remains of Northern California's Deadly "Camp" Fire

Published : Friday, January 11, 2019 | 6:07 AM

Pasadena firefighters shown searching a destroyed building for remains after the Camp Fire essentially wiped out the town of Paradise in Northern California in November, 2018. Image courtesy Pasadena Fire Dept.

Tetra Tech, a Pasadena-based consulting and engineering services company, has been awarded the largest-ever wildfire cleanup contract in the history of the state to mitigate the toxic swill left in the wake of the Camp Fire late last year in Northern California.

The “wildfire debris management” contract was awarded by CalRecyle (California Department of Resources and Recovery), a branch of the California Environmental Protection Agency. Media reports put the value of the contract at $250 million.

“In previous wildfire debris removal operations, Tetra Tech has proven to be a reliable debris management contractor, meeting CalRecycle’s high standards for health and safety, performance, and operational accountability,” the agency said in a statement.

CalRecycle’s choice of contractor has not been met with universal approval, given that Tetra Tech has been accused of falsifying soil tests during the cleanup of a former U.S. Navy shipyard at Hunter’s Point in San Francisco, an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site.

A statement from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office said, “We are concerned that Tetra Tech continues to receive contracts amidst ongoing Department of Justice whistle-blower lawsuits into their fraudulent work at Hunter’s Point.”

Federal emergency funds were expected to cover the bulk of the cleanup costs, but President Trump said in a Jan. 9 tweet he has ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency “to send no more money” to California because the fires in the state would never have happened if the forests were properly managed.

It is unclear if any official actions have actually been undertaken which will staunch the flow of federal funds to the Butte County cleanup.

The Camp Fire was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history, and the sixth-deadliest U.S. wildfire overall. It was sparked last November 8 and, officially, the investigation into its cause has not yet concluded. It killed 86 civilians and leveled 18,804 buildings, according to CalFire.

It destroyed most of Paradise and the adjacent Concow communities.

Tetra Tech did not return a call and email requests for comment.

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