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EPA Hurricane Maria Update for Tuesday, September 26

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WASHINGTON (September 26, 2017) –  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to coordinate closely with federal, commonwealth, territory, and local partners as the Agency responds to the impact of Hurricane Maria. EPA is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through its assistance to the governments of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). EPA is focused on environmental impacts and potential threats to human health caused by Hurricane Maria, as well as the safety of those in the affected areas.

About 112 personnel are currently involved in hurricane response efforts.

In Puerto Rico today, nine EPA employees from Region 2’s Caribbean Environmental Protection Division have joined our drinking water and wastewater facilities assessment team, which has begun assessments of drinking water and wastewater facilities. EPA employees are now co-located with FEMA in its coordination center in San Juan.

In St. Croix, USVI, an EPA water assessment and sampling team, made up of two On Scene Coordinators and three water sampling specialists, joined representatives of the USVI government on September 25 to begin some basic field sampling of public drinking water systems. Sample results will be provided to the USVI government and other system owners/operators to inform and assist the government in getting their drinking water systems back up and running.

EPA On Scene Coordinator assessing damage at a gas station in St. Croix, USVI.

Assessment teams made up of On-Scene Coordinators (OSCs), Remedial Project Managers (RPMs), technical assistance contractors, and public information officers continue to deploy to Puerto Rico. Preparations are underway to re-assess Superfund, oil sites, and chemical facilities in Puerto Rico and the USVI as part of the EPA re-deployment plan.

Enforcement Actions

Fuel Waivers

  • On September 26, 2017, the EPA waived diesel fuel requirements to minimize or prevent disruptions with the supply of diesel fuel for mobile nonroad generators and pumps used for emergency purposes in Puerto Rico effective immediately through October 15, 2017. This will allow the sale, distribution, and use of heating oil and marine fuel designated for use in Emission Control Areas (ECA marine fuel) that exceed the 15 parts per million (ppm) sulfur standard if the fuel meets certain conditions. EPA Administrator Pruitt, in consultation with the U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, issued this emergency fuel waiver under the Clean Air Act.

No Action Assurance (NAA) - EPA policy allows the agency to issue NAAs in cases where it is necessary to avoid extreme risks to public health and safety and where no other mechanism can adequately address the matters. The agency issued the following NAA related to Hurricane Maria:

  • On September 22, 2017, EPA announced that it will exercise its enforcement discretion to facilitate the importation of mobile power generators into the United States that will be used as emergency sources of power in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria.

Safe Drinking Water Act Order – On September 23, EPA issued an order to FEMA and the Department of Defense (DOD) that provides direction on supplying of clean drinking water in the U.S. Virgin Islands and authorizes FEMA and DOD to install and operate temporary water treatment units that will provide a supply of clean drinking water.

EPA has important resources available online in English and Spanish about floodwaters, hazardous debris, household hazardous waste, and other hurricane impacts. EPA will continue to provide regular updates about EPA’s response to Hurricane Maria. For information and updates, visit: