Environmental Protection Agency____ ____________

9/27/05 3:00 PM

 

EPA emergency response personnel are working in partnership with FEMA to help assess the damage and prepare for 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.

 

Actions

 

Air Monitoring – On 9/26, EPA’s flying laboratory, ASPECT, conducted flights in the Lake Charles area. EPA’s two TAGA buses are being used to collect screening level air data in multiple locations throughout New Orleans.

 

Public Outreach – EPA has translated several documents, including press releases, news briefs, public safety advisories, and water safety information, into Spanish and Vietnamese to assist individuals in the affected areas. Additionally, FEMA requested EPA, and other federal agencies, to provide a recorded message of information for broadcast over XM radio and TV to the evacuee shelters. EPA senior personnel are doing the interviews.

 

Superfund Sites – EPA teams are preparing to travel to all National Priorities List (NPL) sites in areas affected by Hurricane Rita. There are 16 NPL sites in the hurricane Katrina-affected area of LA, 6 in AL and 3 in MS. 16 of the sites in LA have had initial assessments. Initial Rapid Assessments have been made on the 9 sites in AL and MS. EPA is still in the assessment phase, and will continue to monitor all the impacted NPL sites. On 9/26, a team collected one surface water sample from the Florida Canal near the Agriculture Street site in New Orleans, and on 9/25, one sample from the People’s Canal near the site.

 

Chemical and Petroleum - No large environmental incidents from Rita were identified in Texas that need to be addressed by EPA at this time. EPA is examining existing damage in western Louisiana parishes and the possible need for EPA assets in these areas.

 

Drinking Water Assessment -- In LA, there are a total of 1591 drinking water facilities that served approximately

5 million people. As of 9/26, EPA has determined that 264 of these facilities are operational, 30 are operating on a boil water notice, 25 are not operating, and further information is being gathered on 1272. 1n MS, there are a total of 1,368 drinking water facilities that served approximately 3.2 million people. EPA has determined that 1,247 of these facilities are operational, 83 are operating on a boil water notice and 38 are either inoperable or their status is unknown. It should be noted that operational facilities may still be in need of repair or reconstruction. EPA’s Water program is continuing to assess all drinking water plants in the affected area.

 

Wastewater -- In the LA affected area, there are a total of 122 Public Owned Treatment Works (POTW). As of 9/26, EPA has determined that 87 of these facilities are operational and 35 facilities are either not operating or their status is unknown. In the MS affected area, there are a total of 117 POTW. EPA has determined that 114 of these facilities are operational and 4 facilities are either not operating or their status is unknown. In the AL affected area, only 1 facility is

not operating with 7 others having operational difficulties. It should be noted that operational facilities may still be in

need of repair or reconstruction. EPA issued an emergency Administrative Order to the Sewerage and Water Board of

New Orleans to temporarily allow discharges from the East Bank Wastewater Treatment Plant to the Mississippi as a

result of Katrina. This effort was coordinated with LDEQ. EPA has developed a set of questions and answers that will assist in responding to inquiries. Discussions among agencies represented at the Joint Field Office are ongoing to

determine when to stop pumping water out of New Orleans into Lake Pontchartrain. EPA personnel are reviewing historic water quality and current conditions obtained from environmental sampling. EPA’s Water program continues to assess wastewater treatment plants in the affected area.

 

Debris Assessment and Collection Collection activities are resuming following Rita for household hazardous wastes (HHW) and orphan containers in the hurricane affected area. In addition, EPA personnel will continue to offer technical assistance in the disposal of hazardous waste and other debris left behind by the storm. As of 9/22, EPA has collected over 37,550 HHW/orphan containers throughout the affected region. Four collection sites have been put into place for collection of these wastes in MS and AL and one collection site has been located in St.Tammany Parish, LA. The draft Debris Removal Plan for LA, AL, and MS, is in final review. The plan will enable Federal agencies and the states to comprehensively manage funding for large scale and complex debris.