Response to Hurricane Katrina
Boil Drinking Water
EPA continues to send personnel and resources to the affected areas in anticipation of upcoming needs when hurricane damage may begin to be addressed. Current activities are listed below.
MS Assessment Teams
Assessment Teams will continue to conduct assessments, removal actions and cleanup oversight throughout MS, including Biloxi, Gulfport, Pascagoula, Moss Point, Ocean Springs, and Gautier. These teams will be comprised of US Coast Guard, EPA, environmental contractors, and the state. An EPA team conducted assessment of multiple facilities in the Port Bienville Industrial Park in Hancock County, south of Stennis Space Center. Another team conducted assessments of facilities along the coast line west of Highway 49 to Long Beach. The team assessed the Gulf Port Authority, the railroad tracks and neighborhoods that sustained significant damage. Aerial assessment of a facility near Waveland showed overturned tanks and railcars, and an oil slick was viewed adjacent to the facility, which may be emanating from the facility. Further assessment on the ground will be conducted.
AL Assessment Teams
Assessment Teams will continue to conduct assessments and removal actions and oversee clean up efforts in Bayou Labatre, City of Mobile, Mobile County and Baldwin County. In the Mobile area, assessments are ongoing in Mobile Bay, Dog River and the Fowl River. The US Coast Guard is conducting some removal actions of drums and fuel tanks in Bayou Labatre.
Water Division Assistance Team
An EPA Water Division Assistance Team is continuing its assessment of damage to local drinking water systems in MS and providing technical assistance to help restore safe drinking water to those systems. EPA Region 4 will deploy a mobile lab to assist the MS Department of Public Health with analytical support of drinking water systems. Due to the possibility of extensive damage to their distribution systems, many drinking water facilities will be conducting long-term repairs. Community water systems across AL have been disabled or impaired by loss of electrical power, with many operating on generators or with partial power. 13 AL systems currently have boil water advisories. Due to impaired or disabled systems, EPA reminds citizens in affected areas to follow “boil water” advisories in place. For more information, please read the “Boil Drinking Water” Alert on the Region 4 hurricane web page at http://epa.gov/region4/Katrina/index.htm.
Many wastewater facilities are also without power or operating on partial power. 94 MS wastewater facilities were contacted to assess their status, but more than half of the facilities could not be reached or have no status. Efforts are ongoing to get these facilities on emergency power or fully operational, but like the drinking water facilities, some have sustained extensive damage and will be conducting long-term repairs before they can operate at regular capacity.
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.