Response to Hurricane Katrina
Boil Drinking Water
EPA has reorganized its response structure in MS and AL based on the most affected counties. Three divisions were formed to address Hancock (Division A), Harrison (Division B), and Jackson, MS and Mobile and Baldwin, AL (Division C) counties. The US Coast Guard will serve as liaison between EPA and the three divisions. Coastal MS experienced storm surge flooding of 18 to 22 feet above normal tide levels and significant rainfall amounts. In response to this event, more than 266 incident responses have been conducted by EPA and the US Coast Guard since the beginning of EPA’s involvement following the destruction left by Hurricane Katrina along the MS and AL coastline. An incident response is defined as an investigation of a National Response Center Report, contacting facilities, and reporting hazmat debris while conducting land or water assessment in affected areas.
A total of 211 personnel, which includes personnel from EPA, US Coast Guard, EPA and US Coast Guard contractors, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Alabama Department of Environmental Management, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation, are assisting with environmental and hazardous waste issues in response to Hurricane Katrina in MS and AL.
Assessment and Removal Team Activity
EPA, ADEM and USCG overflights of the Mobile Bay area and the MS coast have helped to log locations of barges, boats, tanks and debris fields for further water assessment.
Total debris recovered as part of EPA operations in MS and AL includes 433 drums, 50 tanks, 245 cylinders, 17 fuel cells, 813 other containers and 2,200 gallons of fuel removed.
Division A-Hancock County, MS
Teams continued assessment in Waveland, MS and completed assessments in Diamondhead, MS. Removal operations continued in Pearlington, MS, resulting in the discovery and removal of two 250-gallon propane tanks, five miscellaneous propane tanks, ten 55-gallon drums and four small containers.
EPA and the US Coast Guard met with railroad officials to verify that rail cars are accounted for. Railroad officials state that rail cars from Mobile to the Louisiana border have been identified and initial assessment indicates that the cars do not pose any significant hazardous materials concerns. The railroad is currently conducting recovery of cars affected by the hurricane.
As of September 11, 2005, 30 above-ground storage tanks, 21 compressed gas cylinders, 57 drums, one gas can and more than 104 various small containers were identified for removal in Division A.
Division B-Harrison County, MS
Oversight was performed for a recovery of 55-gallon drums from the Bayou Cassote, MS area and drum removal from the debris field there has been completed.
Assessment continued at the University of Southern MS Gulf Coast Research Laboratory area for hazardous materials and inventory began on chemicals stored in the laboratory. A 1,000-gallon gasoline tank was removed from the water.
Division C-Jackson County, MS and Baldwin and Mobile Counties, AL
Follow-up assessment was conducted in South Mobile County. A chloroacetate spill at the state docks in Mobile has been addressed and is no longer an incident of concern. Inspections of several marinas along the Dog River found no active releases, and the responsible parties are initiating cleanups there.
Teams also performed follow-up assessments in the Pascagoula, Moss Point and Ocean Springs, MS areas. An EPA field team assessed household hazardous waste/hazardous materials segregation from large debris piles in Pascagoula to insure compliance with the Army Corps of Engineers plans.
Water Systems Update
A total of one drinking water system in AL and 303 in MS remain on boil water notices. 71 systems in AL and 1,183 systems in MS are operational. Two additional EPA Drinking Water Section personnel are currently working with the MS Department of Public Health on drinking water issues in the state.
Wastewater systems continue to be affected, with systems in Chickasaw and Dauphin Island, AL, and systems in Escatawpa, Eagle Point, Delisle, Oaks, Waveland, Diamondhead, Newton, Bay Springs and McLain, MS still inoperable.