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Hurricane Sandy Response

Hurricane Sandy Response Efforts

Response timeline | November 16, 2012: 

Water and Wastewater Utilities:

New Jersey:

In response to requests from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and municipalities, EPA is providing assistance in assessing drinking water and wastewater facilities across the state. To date, EPA has assessed 40 drinking water facilities and 23 wastewater treatment plants. Of these facilities, two wastewater treatment plants requested further assistance from EPA, and no drinking water facilities requested EPA assistance. EPA is providing assistance to the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission in Newark, New Jersey and the Middlesex County Utility Authority in Sayreville, New Jersey.

  • The Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission receives sewage and industrial waste from 48 municipalities in and around Newark. It is the fifth largest wastewater treatment plant in the nation. During the storm, the plant was flooded and lost electricity. On October 31, 2012, power was restored. EPA is working in partnership with state and federal agencies to remove wastewater from the plant and find environmentally safe solutions for sludge disposal until the plant is back in full operation.
  • During Hurricane Sandy, the Middlesex County Utility Authority lost power to its water utility intake pump. On November 6, 2012, power was restored. EPA is working with the utility and the state to fix damaged equipment.

New York:

In response to requests from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and municipalities, EPA is providing assistance in assessing drinking water and wastewater facilities across the state. To date, EPA has assessed 40 drinking water facilities and 12 wastewater treatment plants. None of these facilities required additional assistance from EPA. 

Sampling Results for Drinking Water Wells on Shinnecock National Lands:

At the request of the Shinnecock Nation on Long Island, the EPA sampled three drinking water wells located on Shinnecock Nation land on November 10, 2012. The samples were analyzed for bacteria, turbidity and nitrates. Results from these samples show that the water from the wells meets New York State drinking water and groundwater standards. For results, visit http://www.epa.gov/region2/nations/pdf/ShinnecockDW.pdf

Contaminated Sites:

In advance of Hurricane Sandy, EPA secured contaminated sites in the federal Superfund program in New Jersey and New York to protect against potential damage. Since the storm, EPA has been assessing these sites. All 105 of the short-term, removal sites have been assessed and do not pose an immediate threat to public health or the environment. All 142 long-term remedial sites in the area have been assessed. We do not believe that any sites were impacted in ways that would pose a threat to nearby communities. However, we have done additional follow up sampling at the Gowanus Canal site in Brooklyn, New York, the Newtown Creek site on the border of Queens and Brooklyn, New York and the Raritan Bay Slag site in Laurence Harbor and Sayreville, New Jersey.

Newtown Creek Sampling:�

Newtown Creek, on the border of Brooklyn and Queens in New York City, is contaminated from more than 150 years of pollution from refineries, petrochemical plants, fertilizer and glue factories, sawmills, and lumber and coal yards. The site was placed on the Superfund list in September 2010.

On November 9, 2012, EPA took two samples in the Newtown Creek area. Samples were taken from the basement of a building on Eagle Street that had been flooded as well as directly from the creek. Levels of bacteria were high. While this type of bacteria becomes inactive over time, these findings reinforce the need for people to protect themselves when cleaning up flood waters that contain sewage and therefore contain bacteria. Additional chemicals that were tested were below levels of concern or not detected. For more details, visit http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/newtowncreek/

Gowanus Canal Sampling:

The Gowanus Canal is contaminated from many years of industrial discharges, spills, storm water runoff and combined sewer overflows. The site was added to the Superfund list in March 2010. In response to Hurricane Sandy, EPA immediately conducted a visual inspection of the length of the canal and the surrounding area and did not observe sediment on the streets.

On October 31, 2012, EPA took four samples in the Gowanus Canal area. Samples were taken from the ground floors of two buildings that had been flooded as well as directly from the canal. One of the buildings is located at the head of the canal, and the other near the 3rd street turning basin. Levels of bacteria were elevated, as would be expected with water carrying sewage, therefore precautions should be taken when cleaning flood waters. Additional chemicals that were tested were below levels of concern or not detected. For more details, visit http://www.epa.gov/region2/superfund/npl/gowanus/

Raritan Bay Slag Sampling:

In response to Hurricane Sandy, EPA took four samples at the Raritan Bay Slag superfund site on November 3, 2012. The Raritan Bay Slag Site is located on a beach in the Laurence Harbor section of Old Bridge, in the adjacent Margaret�s Creek marsh area, and in a nearby area of Sayreville, New Jersey. The site is contaminated with lead slag, a byproduct of metal smelting. This lead slag was used to construct a seawall and a jetty along the southern shore of the Raritan Bay in Old Bridge and Sayreville.

The four samples taken on November 3, 2012 were taken in the Laurence Harbor Section of the site. Two of the four samples were taken from the public playground area, and the other two were taken from the restricted beach area previously enclosed by the fence.  

Results showed that lead in three of the four samples meets the standard set to protect people while recreating. Lead in one sample taken in the restricted area of the beach was above the recreational limit. EPA will take additional samples to get a more detailed picture of how the material might have shifted. EPA also plans to replace the fence and put up signage around the site. For more details, visit http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/raritanbayslag/

Debris Management:

EPA is coordinating with stakeholders, local and State governments as well as FEMA and the U.S. Coast Guard to first assess locations with reported orphaned containers and then to remove orphaned containers if necessary at various locations in New York and New Jersey.

Part of EPA�s debris management effort includes retrieving hazardous waste and properly disposing of it. In New York, EPA is assisting the state and the city in assessing and collecting orphaned drums and containers. EPA is also assisting in separating out hazardous waste from other waste at staging areas in New York. These debris management efforts in New York have resulted in the collection of 22,742 items including drums, propane tanks, cylinders and large and small containers. In New Jersey, EPA has been assisting the state in assessing and collecting large orphaned drums and containers. These efforts have resulted in a collection of 24 items including drums, cylinders and containers.��

EPA is working closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop and implement a plan on debris removal and will be working with New York State and local governments to collect household hazardous waste in Nassau and Suffolk counties in New York. EPA is also working closely with New York City and the Corps of Engineers to set up household hazardous waste collection operations in New York City.

Household Hazardous Waste collection and drop-off has been coordinated in Suffolk County, New York and began Monday, November 12, 2012. For more information view the press release and Suffolk County Household Hazardous Waste Fact Sheet (PDF) (1 pg, about PDF).

Water Sampling:

Raritan Bay/MCUA Sampling Results:

On November 14, 2012, EPA’s vessel, ‘The Boston Whaler,’ was used to collect water samples in the Washington Canal, Raritan River and upper Raritan Bay at the request of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The EPA took 12 samples of river and bay water to determine concentrations of bacteria and dissolved oxygen from the releases of raw or partially treated sewage from the storm-damaged Middlesex County Utilities Authority (MCUA) sewage treatment system.

The samples were analyzed for fecal coliform, a common group of bacteria associated with human waste, and dissolved oxygen. The established limit in New Jersey is 14 colony forming units (CFU) per 100 milliliters of water for shellfish harvesting. Fecal coliform levels from the EPA’s samples were above this limit. EPA strongly advises that people avoid activities that could bring them into direct contact with the waters in and around the tidal Raritan River/Washington Canal and Raritan Bay area. Should contact occur, wash with soap and water. For more information view our fact sheets: http://epa.gov/sandy/factsheets.html

Levels of dissolved oxygen were above 5 milligrams per liter, which are generally accepted as being protective of estuarine life.

Results of the sampling can be found at: Raritan River/Raritan Bay Near MCUA WWTP Area � Bacteria and Dissolved Oxygen Sampling (PDF)(1 pg, 231K, about PDF)

Newark Bay/NY Harbor Sampling Results:

On November 11, 12 and 13, EPA’s boat, ‘The Clean Waters,’ was used to collect water samples in Newark Bay and New York Harbor at the request of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. On each day, there were 10 samples of ocean water collected to determine concentrations of bacteria from the releases of raw or partially treated sewage from the storm damaged Passaic Valley Sewerage Authority.

The samples were analyzed for fecal coliform, a common group of bacteria associated with human waste. The established limit in New Jersey is 14 colony forming units (CFU) per 100 milliliters of water for shellfish harvesting. Fecal coliform levels from the EPA’s samples were above this limit.  Although bacteria levels can fluctuate daily, there is a trend of decreasing coliform levels over the past week. EPA strongly advises that people avoid activities that could bring them into direct contact with the waters in Newark Bay and New York Harbor. Results of the EPA sampling and sampling conducted directly by NJDEP to date can be found using the following link: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/wms/bmw/sandynyharbor.html

Sandy Hook to Seaside Heights Sampling Results:

On November 6, 2012, EPA’s boat, ‘The Clean Waters,’ was used to take water quality samples in coastal waters of New Jersey from Sandy Hook to Seaside Heights. There were 16 samples of ocean water collected 1-3 miles off the coast to determine potential impacts from the releases of raw sewage as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

The samples were analyzed for Enterococcus, a common group of bacteria associated with animal and human waste. The established limit for swimming is 104 bacteria colonies per 100 milliliters of water. Enterococcus levels from the EPA’s samples were below this limit. Results of the sampling can be found at http://www.state.nj.us/dep/wms/bmw/sandyatlanticocean.html

Cleanup and Recovery:

In New Jersey, EPA is helping the State to pump out oiled water in basements. People should report chemical or oil spills to the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802. 

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Response Timeline

Nov 2012  8   9  10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Dec 2012  1   2   4   6   8  10 12 14 17 18 27
Jan 2013  2   3   4   7   8   9  10 11 14 15 16 17 18 22 23 24 25 29 30 31
Feb 2013  1   4   5   6  7 8 12 13 14 20 21
March 2013  1   7 
April 2013 11

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