Response to Hurricane Katrina
Boil Drinking Water
In anticipation of heavy rain and strong winds from Hurricane Rita, EPA is preparing to scale down operations in MS and AL for the weekend. All collected hazardous waste has been secured at the collection points throughout MS and AL, and it is anticipated that operations will resume on Sunday in Mobile and Monday in MS.
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 186 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.
Assessment and Removal Team Activity
Total debris recovered as part of EPA operations in MS and AL includes 1,438 drums, 745 tanks, 1,053 cylinders, 17 fuel cells, 6,314 other containers, 718,216 gallons of fuel removed, and 49,750 gallons of oil/water recovered.
Division A-Hancock County , MS
Initial removal operations continued in the Port Bienville Industrial Park and the Bay St. Louis areas. These actions resulted in the removal of numerous drums and totes. All items picked up were transported to the industrial park collection point. The Aerial Waterways Assessment Team, led by USCG, continued initial assessments in Edwardsville.
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
An assessment team performed level B Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) entry into the Mississippi State forensics lab. The team made four level B entries and conducted air monitoring, site reconnaissance, and site documentation. Various chemicals were packed and transported to the division collection point. Items collected included 49 one-gallon containers of flammable liquids, 13 one-gallon containers of acid, and 85 one-liter containers with unknown contents.
A removal team recovered a 10,000-gallon tank located near Treasure Bay casino. The tank was transported to the division collection point.
Another removal team performed a removal action at a pool chemical facility. They identified 30 five-gallon buckets of chlorine tablets, and other five-gallon buckets of various household cleaners.
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
Several teams performed follow up assessments in the Pascagoula and Ocean Springs, MS areas. EPA performed contractor oversight of soil remediation of oil-contaminated soil at a local seafood facility. A total of 40 cubic yards of soil has been removed from the area. The removed soil is being staged on site in roll-off boxes.
A removal team also performed oversight at the seafood facility for the removal of 1,000 pounds of rotting shrimp. EPA contactors were in level B PPE for initial air monitoring, and operations were executed in level C PPE. The shrimp was placed in a roll-off box, and the contents were solidified with lime for transport to Macland Landfill. The MS Department of Health also provided direction during the operation.
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.
Vessel Assessment Group
The vessels group completed assessment of commercial vessels in the area. 449 vessels were assessed by the vessel group. Future operations will shift to identification and contact with vessel owners. The fuel and oil from eight vessels was recovered by vacuum truck and transported to the Division A collection point. A total of 1,400 gallons of product was recovered. Recovery operations are complete on two vessels.
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.
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 258 drinking water samples and continues to analyze new samples each day, however, the lab will be temporarily inoperable until the passing of Hurricane Rita.
EPA personnel are expected to conduct a Water Quality Survey along the MS Gulf Coast, but Hurricane Rita will 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.
EPA personnel and equipment have been deployed this week to assist MDEQ with air monitoring. Air monitoring sites have been set-up at Stennis Air Base, 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. Due to the fragile nature of the air sampling equipment, it will be removed and secured and redeployed after the passing of Hurricane Rita. Total samples collected at this time are three PM 2.5 samples, three PM 10 samples, and three asbestos samples. Sampling data will be compiled and the data will be released when it becomes available.