Response to Hurricane Katrina
Boil Drinking Water
EPA Region 4 Emergency Response personnel are currently assisting officials in Mississippi and Alabama affected by Hurricane Katrina to assess damage and make preparations for cleanup. EPA is responsible for coordinating work to address oil and other hazardous materials discharges in the area. EPA will coordinate with MS Department of Environmental Quality, MS Emergency Management Agency, MS Department of Health, AL Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), AL Emergency Management Agency and US Coast Guard (USCG).
An EPA On Scene Coordinator conducted aerial assessments of the coastal AL and MS areas with the USCG on Tuesday, August 30, 2005. Six EPA Assessment Strike Teams have been deployed to MS and AL, as well. The AL Division, which consists of 3 teams, will meet in Mobile and coordinate assessment activities with the USCG-Mobile and ADEM. The MS Division, another 3 teams, will meet in Hattiesburg and move toward the coastal areas of Gulf Shores and Biloxi as areas become accessible. A Region 4 Water Division Assistance Team has been deployed to MS to assess damage to local drinking water systems and help restore the systems to deliver safe drinking water in the affected areas.
EPA reminds business and industry officials returning to their facilities to report spills to the National Response Center. The Center serves as the sole point of contact for reporting all oil, chemical, radiological, and biological releases in the United States.
Industries and businesses that encounter spills or discharges in the hurricane's aftermath should contact the Center immediately at (800) 424-8802 or (202) 267-2675. The Center is available to take calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
The Center supplies EPA's response personnel with incident reports of oil discharges and chemical releases. This information helps EPA determine the Agency's next steps in responding to the natural disaster. The information from the Center's reports, coupled with the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Rapid Needs Assessment, will help EPA ensure the protection of public health and the environment. EPA also coordinates with state and local agencies to support the affected communities.
EPA will release information from the environmental assessments as it becomes available. Reporters should contact the EPA Press Office at 404-562-8327 for interviews and additional information.