Response to Hurricane Katrina
Boil Drinking Water
EPA is operating under three divisions that were formed to address Hancock (Division A), Harrison (Division B), and Jackson, MS and Mobile and Baldwin, AL (Division C) counties, which are the most affected areas along the coast. The US Coast Guard is serving 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 during Hurricane Katrina.
In response to the Hurricane, more than 381 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. Of those, 328 were closed due to no further action required or a removal action occurred. 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 the affected areas.
A total of 233 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, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the City of Mobile, AL 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 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 1,314 drums, 524 tanks, 878 cylinders, 17 fuel cells, 5,014 other containers, 718,216 gallons of fuel removed, and 49,000 gallons of oil/water recovered.
Division A-Hancock County , MS
A removal team performed a recovery of approximately 250 containers containing chlorine substances from a chlorine facility. Another team removed 11 30-gallon containers of muriatic acid and two five-gallon containers of chlorine tablets from Buccaneer State Park. The US Coast Guard assessment and removal teams deployed an absorbent boom around a fuel leak near shrimp boats in the Port Bienville area.
Division B-Harrison County , MS
Recovery of large propane tanks was conducted in the Pass Christian area. Also, five chlorine gas cylinders, one 9,000-gallon above-ground storage tank (AST) and one 12,000-gallon AST were discovered in Pass Christian. Numerous small containers were recovered while assessment and removal operations continue in Biloxi and D’Iberville. Pumping operations continue on ASTs in the water adjacent to Goat Island, with one 20,000-gallon AST being recovered and two additional 20,000 ASTs being assessed.
Division C-Jackson County , MS and Baldwin and Mobile Counties, AL
Assessment teams performed assessment and recovery operations in the Biloxi area. Four 55-gallon drums, one 500-gallon tote, and numerous small containers were recovered and moved to the division collection point.
Another assessment team performed assessment of grids of homes and businesses in the Bayou Cassote area. Oversight of a removal contractor removing oil-contaminated soil in residential areas around a local seafood restaurant was conducted, as well.
Alabama Task Force – Several grids along the Mobile Bay area were assessed and cleared. A search was conducted of the Mobile Tenesaw Delta with an airboat to locate three ASTs identified during an overflight. One AST was discovered, while the other two have not yet been located.
The vessels group assessed vessels in the Pass Christian, Industrial Canal of Biloxi, and Pascagoula River areas. A total of 365 vessels have been assessed to date. Recovery operations are complete on two vessels.
Water Systems Update
A total of one drinking water system in AL and 159 in MS remain on boil water notices. 71 systems in AL and 1,308 systems in MS are operational. The status of all systems in MS is now known so that problems may be corrected at the affected drinking water facilities.
Wastewater systems that continue to be affected (as defined by ADEM) in Alabama counties include: 12 plants in Baldwin and 12 plants in Mobile. Wastewater systems that continue to be affected (as defined by MDEQ) in Mississippi counties include: Attala, Copiah, Covington, Forest, George, Greene, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lamar, Lauderdale, Marion, Newton, Pearl River, Perry, Simpson, Smith, Stone, Walthall, and Wayne.