Riverside County supervisors signed off Tuesday on a five-year contract with a Minnesota-based environmental services firm to provide debris removal and oversee other operations in unincorporated communities in the event of a major disaster.

The agreement with the Environmental & Demolition Services Group, headquartered in Brooklyn Park, was sought by the county Emergency Management Department as part of the agency’s ongoing contingency planning.

“Disasters such as earthquakes often produce large volumes of debris,” according to an EMD statement posted to the board’s agenda. “Debris and damaged trees create hazardous conditions, including blocked roadways and obstacles to emergency vehicles. These hazards and obstacles often block routine, essential and emergency traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian. Riverside County’s priority is to secure the community with removal of hazardous debris to allow for security, emergency and other service traffic.”

The Environmental & Demolition Services Group, part of Ceres Environmental Services Inc., was selected from among three prospective vendors who submitted bids to be placed on retainer by the county.

Officials emphasized that the contract will not result in costs to the county unless and until the firm is called into action following a disaster. It was further noted that whatever expenses are incurred may be covered under Federal Emergency Management Agency relief.

The contract specifies that an emergency road clearance operation would run $322 per hour, per crew, while other costs would vary according to the amount of cleanup per cubic yard or per tree. Other costs would stem from removal of spilled or leaked refrigerants, household waste, busted electronics, abandoned vehicles and dead animals.

The contract will expire on June 30, 2023.

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