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 200 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 (MDEQ), 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.
EPA personnel and equipment have been deployed this week to assist MDEQ with air monitoring, especially in areas where debris will be burned.
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 1,369 drums, 679 tanks, 979 cylinders, 17 fuel cells, 5,735 other containers, 718,216 gallons of fuel removed, and 49,000 gallons of oil/water recovered.
Division A-Hancock County , MS
A removal team continued with removal operations in the Bay St. Louis/Waveland, MS area. The team responded to a call of radioactive materials at a residence. The team confirmed that the residence does not have these materials and conducted air monitoring to confirm no radiation levels exist.
Removal teams continued operations in the Pearlington area. The Aerial Waterways Assessment Team conducted assessment of the Edwardsville area.
Division A Collection Point – Collection continued of all drums and small tanks on pallets. Teams continue to receive and collect drums, cylinders, small containers, tanks and totes brought by other contractors.
Division B-Harrison County , MS
Assessment and recovery operations continued on the east side of Biloxi. Drums and containers were collected and transported to the division collection point. Division team continued assessment and recovery operations in Pass Christian. Three large empty above-ground storage tanks (ASTs) were recovered.
The Division team continued pumping operations on ASTs in the water adjacent to Goat Island. Two empty 3,000-gallon ASTs were recovered from the water. The team conducted level “B” Personal Protective Equipment operations at the William B. Cary School Chemistry classroom in response to acetone and sulfuric acid spills.
Division B Collection Point – Collection continued of all drums and small tanks on pallets. Teams continue to receive and collect drums, cylinders, small containers, tanks and totes brought by other contractors.
Division C-Jackson County , MS and Baldwin and Mobile Counties, AL
Assessment and recovery operations were performed in the Gautier, MS area. One 85-gallon drum, several 55-gallon drums, and one 250-gallon AST were recovered. Assessment and recovery operations were performed in the Biloxi, MS area. Numerous items were recovered and transported to the division collection point.
Assessment continued of grids in the Bayou Cassote, MS area. Oversight continued of the removal contractor removing oil-contaminated soil in residential areas around a local seafood restaurant. A 3,000-gallon creosote tank in a residential area was marked for recovery.
A local seafood distributor was assessed and tasked to a contractor to provide a scope of work to address rotting seafood at the location. A delivery truck full of rotting seafood located in a residential area will also be addressed under this tasking.
Division C Collection Point – Collection continued of all drums and small tanks on pallets. Teams continue to receive and collect drums, cylinders, small containers, tanks and totes brought by other contractors.
Alabama Task Force – Several grids along the Mobile Bay area were assessed and cleared. Numerous small items were recovered and transported to the Bayou La Batre, AL collection point. Assessment of the Fowl River in south Mobile County, AL was conducted. Assessment of Spoil Island in Mobile Bay was completed and a boom was deployed around a leaking vessel there.
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 153 drinking water systems in MS remain on boil water notices. All systems in AL are now operational, while 1,310 out of 1,368 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.
An EPA mobile drinking water laboratory is stationed in Gulfport to assist the MS Department of Health with analysis of drinking water samples. The lab has processed more than 140 drinking water samples and continues to analyze new samples each day.
EPA personnel are expected to deploy today to conduct a Water Quality Survey along the MS Gulf Coast. The study area encompasses four major bay systems on the MS coast, including Bay Casotte (including Bangs Lake), the Pascagoula/West Pascagoula River systems, the Back Bay of Biloxi, Bay St. Louis, and the Pearl River. The study assessment is expected to be completed by September 28, 2005.
Wastewater systems that continue to be inoperable include Dauphin Island, AL, and Eagle Point, Delisle and Oaks Development in MS. Affected wastewater systems in Long Beach/Pass Christian, Pascagoula, Waveland and Diamondhead, MS are operating with limited capacity.