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 and Moss Point. 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. To date, a total of 128 Incident Responses have been conducted by EPA and the Coast Guard.
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 at Camp Shelby, near Hattiesburg. Another mobile lab provided by the Florida Deparment of Health will be set up in Pascagoula. Due to the possibility of extensive damage to their distribution systems, many drinking water facilities will be conducting long-term repairs. MS is currently assessing approximately 1367 public water systems across the state and has sent out an assessment team to travel south nearer to the coast to conduct site visits to systems that could not be contacted. Boil water notices have been issued to 468 water systems in MS, including the southernmost counties of Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Pearl River, Stone and George. Samples from all of these systems will be analyzed for total coliform bacteria before the systems can restore safe drinking water to the communities they serve.
Community water systems across AL have been disabled or impaired by loss of electrical power, though most are now operational, but waiting for test results to ensure the water is restored to standards safe for community consumption. 10 AL systems currently have boil water advisories.
Due to systems being impaired or disabled, 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.