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 385 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, 375 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 192 personnel, which includes personnel from EPA, US Coast Guard (USCG), 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. Air monitoring sites have been tentatively set-up at Stennis, Gulfport and Pascagoula, MS, and particulate matter at the 2.5 and 10 micrometers in diameter levels will be monitored, along with metals analysis and asbestos.
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, 687 tanks, 1,027 cylinders, 17 fuel cells, 5,994 other containers, 718,216 gallons of fuel removed, and 49,000 gallons of oil/water recovered.
Division A-Hancock County , MS
An assessment team responded to a report of industrial-related hazardous materials in the Bienville Industrial Park area. Assessment and removal operations led by an EPA On Scene Coordinator resulted in the removal of 26 small containers, 29 55-gallon drums, and eight 500-gallon totes from a farm near the Port Bienville Industrial Park. In addition, the team identified three large tanks (greater than 5,000-gallon capacity), marked as sump water, polymer, and allyl alcohol.
A removal team continued assessment and removal operations in the Kiln and Diamondhead, MS areas. USCG Vice Admiral Thad Allen met with EPA, USCG, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and US Army Corps of Engineers representatives to discuss current and future activities in Hancock County.
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. Two empty 20,000-gallon above-ground storage tanks (ASTs) were transferred to the division collection point. Another empty 20,000-gallon AST was discovered and will be removed during future operations. Assessment operations continued in the Pass Christian area.
A team attempted to pump the contents of a 20,000-gallon tank located in the water near Goat Island, but was unsuccessful in removing the tank from the water. The tank was emptied, and alternative methods of removing the remaining tanks are being investigated.
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. Two large propane tanks were recovered and transported to the division collection point. Assessment and recovery operations were performed in the Biloxi, MS area. Numerous items were recovered and transported to the division collection point.
Assessment of grids continues in the Bayou Cassote, MS area. Oversight continued of removal operations to remove oil-contaminated soil in residential areas around a local seafood restaurant. A plan was developed to handle a truckload of rotting seafood in the residential area. The truck will be placed in a roll-off container and transported from the residential area to the division collection point. The contents of the truck will be solidified with lime and removed for disposal. The truck will be cleaned and returned to the owner. One correction to yesterday’s report of a 3,000-gallon creosote tank in a residential area: the tank was actually an empty diesel tank.
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.
The vessels group assessed vessels in the Pass Christian, Bernard Bayou of Biloxi, and Pascagoula, MS areas. Dive operations were conducted in Bayou La Batre, AL searching for sunken vessels. A total of 449 vessels have been assessed to date. Recovery operations are complete on two vessels.
Water Systems Update
A total of 147 drinking water systems in MS remain on boil water notices. All systems in AL are now operational, while 1,312 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 208 drinking water samples and continues to analyze new samples each day.
EPA personnel are expected to conduct a Water Quality Survey along the MS Gulf Coast, but Hurricane Rita may delay the survey for the immediate future. 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, and Bay St. Louis, and the Pearl River.
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.