Environmental Protection Agency

Hurricane Response Activities

 

October 4, 2005

 

EPA emergency response personnel are working in partnership with FEMA to help assess and cleanup from Katrina and Rita. In emergency situations such as this, under the National Response Plan, EPA serves as the primary agency for coordinating the federal response to releases of oil and hazardous materials. Our national and regional Emergency Operations Centers are activated 24 hours a day.

 

Web Site Postings

 

Flood Water - http://www.epa.gov/katrina/testresults/water/index.html

·         On 10/3, new data was posted from flood water samples taken 9/25 indicating that arsenic was detected in four samples and exceeded the EPA drinking water Maximum Contaminant Level in one of these samples. Lead was detected in three samples and exceeded the EPA action limit in one of these samples. Manganese was detected at levels that exceeded Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) /Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) exposure scenarios for sensitive populations in five samples. EPA and ATSDR/CDC do not feel that chemicals exceeding EPA drinking water standards or ATSDR/CDC heath guidance values pose a human health threat as ingestion of flood water should not be occurring (unless there is inadvertent ingestion e.g., from splashing). EPA and ATSDR/CDC recommend avoiding all contact with flood water, where possible, and washing with soap and water should contact with flood water occur. Personal protective equipment, such as gloves and safety glasses, should be worn by emergency responders.

 

Sediment - http://www.epa.gov/katrina/testresults/sediments/index.html

·         On 10/3, new data was posted on sediment samples taken 9/25 indicating continued elevated concentrations of petroleum. Lead was found in all samples tested but at levels below what ATSDR/CDC considers to be immediately hazardous to human health. Volatile, and semivolatile organic compounds, including polycylic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), as well as pesticides and heavy metals and mercury were found, but at levels below what ATSDR/CDC considers to be immediately hazardous to human health. EPA and ATSDR/CDC recommend avoiding all contact with sediment deposited by the flood water, where possible, due to potential concerns associated with long-term skin contact. Personal protective equipment, such as gloves and safety glasses, should be worn by emergency responders.

 

Air Screening - http://www.epa.gov/katrina/testresults/air/index.html

·         On 10/3, new screening data was posted from ASPECT flight 4, deployed for Rita on 9/26 to assess chemical and petroleum facilities located near Lake Charles, LA. Trace levels of chemicals were detected. Most of the chemicals have not exceeded the ATSDR) Minimal Risk Levels or EPA's Acute Exposure Guidance Levels (AEGLs) for short-term health effects. Only ethylene and glycol appeared elevated. However, the levels detected were below the instrument's ability to detect accurately the chemical and therefore a definitive statement about its risk cannot be made. Since this is a dynamic situation, and this is non-validated data used only for screening purposes, general conclusions about the quality of the air should not be drawn.

 

In The Field

 

Sampling – On 10/3, sampling continued on flood, lake, outfall, and surface water, and sediment in several Louisiana locations. EPA’s soil/sediment sampling in affected areas along the Gulf Coast began 10/3. EPA’s ocean water testing vessel, the Bold, is surveying the waters of the Mississippi Sound and the Gulf of Mexico in the plume of the Mississippi River.

 

Air Monitoring – EPA’s air sampling group continues with the mobilization and staging of stationary and mobile air sampling and monitoring equipment in Louisiana. EPA’s Trace Atmospheric Gas Analyzer (TAGA) bus team is sampling for low level volatile organic compounds in the New Orleans area.

 

 

Mobile Labs – Bacteriological analyses continue on individual private well water supplies in Livingston, LA, on public water systems in Kinder, LA, and on public and private supplies in Gulfport, MS.

 

National Priorities List (NPL) – EPA teams continue to assess NPL sites in the area affected by Rita. Twenty seven of the 28 TX sites have been assessed. Four out of the five NPL sites in Louisiana have been assessed. There are 15* NPL sites in the hurricane Katrina-affected area of LA, 6 in AL and 3 in MS. Initial assessments have been conducted on these sites. EPA is still in the assessment phase, and will continue to monitor all the impacted NPL sites.

 

Drinking Water Assessment -- In LA, there are a total of 1591 drinking water facilities that served approximately 5 million people. As of 10/3, EPA has determined that 1151 of these facilities are operational, 186 are operating on a boil water notice, 95 are not operating, and further information is being gathered on 159. In MS, there are a total of 1,368 drinking water facilities that served approximately 3.2 million people. EPA has determined that 1,256 of these facilities are operational, 76 are operating on a boil water notice and 36 are inoperable. In TX, there are a total of 982 drinking water facilities that served approximately 3.7 million. EPA has determined that 408 are operational, 123 are operating on a boil water notice, 124 are not operating, and 327 are awaiting further information. It should be noted that operational facilities may still be in need of repair or reconstruction. EPA’s Water program is continuing to assess drinking water plants in the affected area.

 

Wastewater -- In LA, there are a total of 317 Public Owned Treatment Works (POTW). As of 10/3, EPA has determined that 292 of these facilities are operational, 14 are not operating, and 11 are awaiting further information. In MS, there are a total of 329 POTW. EPA has determined that 328 of these facilities are operational and 1 facility is not operating. In AL, there are a total of 84 facilities with one not operating. In TX, there are a total of 70 POTW. EPA has determined that 45 are operational, six are not operating, and 19 are awaiting further information. It should be noted that operational facilities may still be in need of repair or reconstruction. EPA’s Water program continues to assess wastewater treatment plants in the affected area. (Note: POTW numbers are now being reported based on utilization of FEMA disaster designation.)

 

Debris Assessment and Collection Collection activities continue for household hazardous wastes (HHW) and orphan containers in the hurricane affected area. In addition, EPA personnel continue to offer technical assistance in the disposal of hazardous waste and other debris left behind by the storm. As of 10/3, EPA has collected over 65,000 HHW/orphan containers throughout the affected region. Collection sites are in place in LA, MS, and AL.

 

*In previous updates, one additional “NPL Equivalent” site was included in the Louisiana NPL total.