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EPA Irma Recovery Update for September 21, 2017

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WASHINGTON (September 21, 2017) – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to coordinate closely with local, state, tribal, and federal partners in response to Hurricane Irma. EPA has temporarily paused all response operations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands due to Hurricane Maria.

EPA is preparing to redeploy its Mobile Command Post from St. Petersburg, Florida, to Miami for assessment and response activities with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) in the Florida Keys. EPA continues to coordinate with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) on drinking water and wastewater issues.

EPA and USCG assess a marina in Ft. Meyers, Fla. – Photo credit: EPA

As of September 21, 2017, the following information is available:


Region 2:

  • EPA response personnel that had been responding to Hurricane Irma in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have been re-positioned due to Hurricane Maria. EPA is making preparations to send teams to re-assess the situation after Hurricane Maria and respond to both Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

Region 4:

  • As of September 21, 2017, the FEMA Region IV Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC) transitioned from Level II (full activation) to normal operations. All members of the RRCC were released, including those staffed under ESF-10.
  • Yesterday, the Orphan Container Assessment Recovery Group cleared all 134 assigned grids within west central Florida. Assessment teams identified no storm-related orphan containers within the grid system. Intelligence from the Florida State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) indicates that similar assessment activities in eastern Florida are unnecessary. All assessment teams, with the exception of the Everglades Recovery Group, will be demobilized today and tomorrow.
  • The Mobile Command Post will be redeployed from St. Petersburg to Miami to prepare for unified assessment and response activities with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) in the Florida Keys. EPA field teams composed of On-Scene Coordinators (OSCs) and Superfund Technical Assessment and Response Team (START) members will be deployed once logistics and operations are finalized. EPA will lead land-based assessment and response actions, conducting inland assessment and looking for orphan containers. The USCG will lead coastal assessment and response activities, primarily vessel recovery.
  • USACE has requested additional EPA support to contact Florida water utilities. Water Team members in the EPA Region 4 office began contacting wastewater facilities classified as status “unknown” on September 18, 2017. FDEP is contacting public water systems with an “unknown” status. The Region 4 Facility Assessment Support Team (FAST) completed 562 call-down assessments as of September 21, 2017. EPA supported this activity by setting up a call center for facilities to check-in. Together, EPA and FDEP reduced the number of “unknown” public water and wastewater facilities from 810 and 1192, to 49 and 462 respectively since last Friday. The agencies anticipate making contact with the remaining facilities before the end of the week.
  • Today, USACE and representatives from the Region 4 Water Protection Division (WPD) traveled to Everglades City, Florida, to assess water and wastewater facilities.
  • The state of Florida identified 214 targets to date for field assessment for hazardous material and/or oil related issues. All 214 assessments have been completed. The list is composed of a combination of Facility Response Plan (FRP) and Risk Management Plan (RMP) facilities.
  • The Region 4 Air, Pesticides, and Toxics Management Division (APTMD) has made contact with 272 of 274 RMP facilities located in Florida.
  • The Region 4 WPD continues to coordinate with FDEP and USACE on drinking water and wastewater issues. Drinking water and wastewater facilities continue to submit their requests for assistance. The WPD compiled an inventory of community drinking water systems (CWS) and Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) that may be used during post-storm damage assessment in Florida.
  • At the request of USACE and FDEP, WPD began contacting wastewater treatment systems this week to determine operating status. WPD staff have completed 183 assessments as of September 21, 2017, leaving 71 facilities that require a site visit. USACE and EPA will coordinate with FDEP on site visits.
  • The SESD Mobile Laboratory remains prepared to conduct the following analyses for drinking water: total coliform, E. coli, fecal coliform, and enterococcus.
  • The Region 4 Superfund Division deployed six Rapid Assessment Teams to conduct rapid assessments of all National Priority List (NPL) sites. All 93 NPL sites in Florida have been assessed; all 22 sites in Georgia have been assessed; all 17 sites in Alabama have been assessed; and all 36 sites in South Carolina have been assessed.
  • The Region 4 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Division identified nine EPA-lead corrective action sites that were prioritized for assessment by NPL field teams. All sites have been assessed with no major impacts identified.
  • EPA is currently working with FDEP, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), and USACE to develop and implement debris management strategies and operations. Currently, EPA is working on debris and orphan container assessments in FEMA Branch IV in Lee, Collier, and Charlotte counties and in FEMA Branch III in Pasco and Pinellas counties at the state of Florida’s request.
  • Yesterday, EPA began to collect and manage oil and hazardous material containers in Everglade City, Florida. The Everglade Recovery Group will assist Collier County by managing large orphan containers at their county collection center.
  • Yesterday, EPA secured and removed 17 total drums from the Chemform, Flash Cleaner and Florida Petroleum Reprocessors Superfund sites in Broward County, Florida. EPA transported the drums, which were identified by Broward County as investigation derived waste (IDW), to FDEP staging areas in West Palm Beach. An EPA contractor will sample drums at a future date and arrange for disposal. 

Region 4 Federally Recognized Tribes:

  • Region 4 continues to coordinate with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to offer assistance a needed to tribes in the impacted areas.


  • NPDES Permits – Last week, EPA issued a letter to FDEP to ensure that all facilities impacted by Irma are familiar with the provisions included in their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits that allow for temporary noncompliance during emergency circumstances. This action helps ensure ports and other facilities get back into operation as quickly as possible while minimizing environmental impacts.
  • 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 has issued the following NAAs related to Hurricane Irma:
    • On September 15, EPA granted an NAA for the import of 255 power generators by the Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A., to be donated for use in communities impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in Texas and Florida, to assist in recovery efforts.
    • On September 13, 2017, EPA announced that it will not pursue enforcement for Clean Air Act violations related to the use of dyed diesel reserves in vehicles and equipment that are being used by Duke Energy to respond to Florida power outages as a result of Irma. Due to conditions related to the storm, Duke is not able to obtain adequate supplies of required ultra low sulfur diesel fuel needed to operate its fleet of response vehicles. This NAA was issued in response to a request from Florida Governor Rick Scott, is in effect immediately, and terminates when all diesel reserves have been used or by the end of the day on September 22, 2017, whichever comes first.
    • On September 11, 2017, EPA issued an NAA to assist all Florida power plant facilities to maintain the supply of electricity to customers and facilities. This action will help meet the needs of FDEP and will assist Florida utility generators to maintain the supply of electricity to customers and critical facilities in the state, while facilitating timely restoration of lost electrical service caused by Irma.
    • On Sunday, September 10, 2017, Florida requested and EPA issued an NAA for Tampa Electric Company’s Big Bend Station, Polk Power Station, and Bayside Power Station for compliance with air permit conditions to ensure adequate supply of electric power.
    • On Friday, September 8, 2017, EPA issued an NAA to allow emergency and backup electric generating units in Monroe County, Florida, the county that encompasses the Florida Keys, to operate without meeting all pollution controls in order to facilitate the supply of needed electricity during and after Irma.
  • Earlier this month, EPA extended a low-volatility conventional gasoline waiver through September 26, 2017, in 38 states and the District of Columbia.


  • The EPA Region 4 has completed field-assessments of National Priority List (NPL) sites within the state of Florida and has contacted all Facility Response Plan (FRP) facilities through a combination of call-down and field assessments. The Region has reached out to all 274 Risk Management Plan (RMP) facilities within Florida and is working with FDEP to contact the two remaining facilities that have, to date, been unresponsive.
  • EPA’s six NPL Assessment Teams have completed assessments at all NPL sites in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina. The following issues have been identified:
    • Fairfax Wood Treating (Jacksonville, FL) - Due to heavy rain, some runoff concerns were identified at an on-site retention point and a washout underneath some site fencing. Security fencing around the site was damaged by fallen trees and minimal erosion was observed The site’s project manager is working with a contractor and fence repair is scheduled for September 26, 2017. Samples collected by EPA did not indicate any significant issues at the site from Hurricane Irma. A surface water sample collected after the hurricane showed concentrations lower than or similar to the surface water concentrations for multiple metals measured during the Remedial Investigation. A remedy to clean up the site has been selected and once the remediation is complete, the surface water from the site will be below the EPA cleanup values.
    • Post and Lumber Preserving Co, Inc. (Quincy, FL) – During a site assessment a tear in the geo-membrane cap was identified. The site’s EPA project manager is working with a contractor to assess the full extent of the damage and determine whether a patch might be sufficient.
    • Terry Creek Dredge Spoil Areas/Hercules Outfall (Brunswick, GA) – The site has minor damage and the responsible party is working with a contractor to address the issues.

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