Environmental Protection Agency
Hurricane Response Activities
October 5, 2005
EPA emergency response personnel are working in partnership with FEMA to help assess and clean up 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.
Fuel Waivers - On 10/4, EPA issued an emergency waiver of the low-sulfur highway diesel fuel
requirement, through 10/25, for Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida,
Tennessee and Kentucky, and states located in Petroleum Administration for Defense District (PADD)
III. The waiver takes effect upon expiration of the 9/13 diesel fuel waiver for Kentucky and all
states located in PADDs I (East Coast) and III (Gulf Coast), and the 9/27 diesel fuel waiver for
In The Field
· News Release - EPA and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (LDHH), along with other federal, state and local public health officials, issued a news release 10/4 urging owners and managers of New Orleans-area restaurants and hotels to ensure that drinking water provided for customers is purchased only from reputable experienced vendors. Federal officials have become aware of several instances of drinking water vendors bypassing established safeguards and using inappropriate vehicles to deliver water to customers, potentially exposing both residents and responders to water contaminated with unhealthy bacteria or chemicals. http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov/news.asp?ID=145&Detail=693
· Mold Brochures - The Joint Field Office has requested additional EPA mold brochures for distribution to returning residents and small businesses.
· Debris Flyers – An informational flyer on debris collection is being distributed by EPA and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.
Sampling – On 10/4, sampling continued on flood, lake, outfall, and surface water in New Orleans. 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 10/4, EPA has determined that 1171 of these facilities are operational, 178 are operating on a boil water notice, 89 are not operating, and further information is being gathered on 153. In MS, there are a total of 1,367 drinking water facilities that served approximately 3.1 million people. EPA has determined that 1,270 of these facilities are operational, 64 are operating on a boil water notice and 33 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 further information is being gathered on 327. 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 10/4, 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 49 are operational, 5 are not operating, and further information is being gathered on 16. 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. 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.
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.
· 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.