EPA Superfund Program Preparation and Response to Hurricane Irene
During the week of August 22, 2011, Hurricane Irene moved up the eastern coast of the United States. In advance of the storm, EPA Superfund staff and on-site contractors made preparations to secure contaminated sites. EPA coordinates and implements a wide range of activities to ensure that appropriate and timely response measures are taken to respond to changing environmental conditions.
Pre-Hurricane Superfund Site Preparation
Preparing for severe weather can greatly reduce the risks to human health and the environment. Some of the pre-storm preparation activities at Superfund sites included securing loose material, moving equipment to higher ground, and shutting off electricity to cleanup systems to prevent damage to their components. For example, at the Silresim site (Lowell, MA) on-site contractors contained and secured loose insulation, tarps and tents and other materials on site, and turned off power to cleanup systems prior to the storm. Following the storm, it was determined that with EPA's help site damage was prevented, and the cleanup systems were returned to full power shortly after the storm.
Overall, as a result of these activities the safety and integrity of systems and equipment at Superfund sites in the storm's path were maintained and there were no significant releases of contaminants.
Regional Hurricane Effects on Superfund Sites
In general, Superfund sites suffered no significant damage and no significant releases of contaminants as a result of the storm. Some sites, in Region 1 (covering ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT), such as Durham Meadows (Durham, CT) suffered minor damage to structures on the site.
In Region 2 (covering NY, NJ, PR, VI) various areas of both New Jersey and New York experienced significant flooding, and concerns remain about the potential impacts to industrial facilities, Superfund sites and local communities. Hurricane Irene and the rains of the past week have caused flooding in some areas of New Jersey and the Catskill Mountain area of New York. EPA project managers and on-scene-coordinators are assessing individual sites and community impacts. Particular attention will focus on the American Cyanamid Superfund site in Bridgewater Township, New Jersey, that was flooded during the storm. More information on the American Cyanamid site can be found on the Region 2 Superfund webpage:
Region 3 (covering PA, DE, DC, MD, VA, WV) and Region 4 (covering KY, TN, NC, SC, MS, AL, GA, FL) reported no significant impacts to sites from the hurricane.
It is important to note that experiencing some damage to equipment at a site (e.g., storm damage to extraction wells or structures on site), while unfortunate, does not necessarily result in a release of contamination. EPA will continue to assess sites and confirm the integrity of remedial systems throughout the northeast as flood waters recede and site accessibility improves.