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News Releases

News Releases from Headquarters

EPA Hurricane Irma Recovery Update for Monday September 25

09/25/2017
Contact Information: 
Press (press@epa.gov)

WASHINGTON (September 25, 2017) – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to coordinate closely with local, state, tribal, and federal partners in response to Hurricane Irma.

A satellite image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) displays vessels damaged and sunken in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Marathon Key, Florida. Hundreds of vessels have been reported damaged or have sunk as a result of Hurricane Irma's force. Teams consisting of federal and state response members are assessing the potential risk of pollution from these vessels. EPA teams will lead land-based assessment and response actions, conducting inland assessment and looking for orphan containers. (U.S. Coast Guard photo.)

REGIONAL OPERATIONS CENTERS

Region 2:

  • EPA also continues to coordinate closely with federal, commonwealth, territory and local partners in the Caribbean as the Agency responds to the impact of Hurricane Maria. About 100 personnel from EPA Region 2 are currently involved in hurricane efforts. EPA On Scene Coordinators, scientists, technical assistance professionals and other first responders have deployed and will continue to deploy to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to assess conditions in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

  • EPA’s hurricane response operations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will be documented at http://www.epa.gov/hurricane-maria.

    Region 4:

    The Region has approximately 26 personnel involved in emergency response efforts as of September 25, 2017.

  • Unified Command (UCC) approved the Hurricane Irma Vessel Mitigation and Removal Protocol for the State of Florida on September 24, 2017. So far, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) has identified approximately 839 total vessel targets. An action request is being routed through the State Emergency Operations Center for an ESF-10 Mission Assignment for EPA that will extend the mission and add funding for vessel recovery.

  • The Mobile Command Post is currently located in Miami to support unified command with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and response activities with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) in the Florida Keys.

  • An On-Scene Coordinator (OSC) is in Miami to represent the EPA as its Unified Commander in the Command Post. Another OSC has redeployed from Collier County to Miami to support EPA planning efforts.A third OSC joined the Unified Command as the EPA Planning Section Chief on September 24.

  • Four EPA field teams composed of OSCs, Superfund Technical Assessment and Response Team (START) members, and Emergency and Rapid Response Services (ERRS) contractors will deploy to areas in the Florida Keys today. The teams will lead land-based assessment and response actions, conducting inland assessment and looking for orphan containers. 

  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) request for additional ESF-3 support for water and wastewater facilities has been fulfilled. Today the Florida City Water Team relocated to Key Largo and will meet with the Key Largo City Engineer to discuss the scope of work. The Naples Water Team met with FEMA to discuss remaining mission requirements and will assess a non-operational system in Glades County today. Together, the Region 4 Facility Assessment Support Team (FAST), the USACE/EPA Naples Water Team, and FDEP will finalize the plan today to assess the status of 3,561 non-community public water systems. 

  • The SESD Mobile Laboratory remains prepared to conduct the following analyses for drinking water: total coliform, E. coli, fecal coliform, and enterococcus.

  • EPA is currently working with FDEP, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), and USACE to develop and implement debris management strategies and operations. EPA has completed the 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.

  • 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.

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.

PERMITS

  • 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.

ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS

  • 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 22, 2017, EPA extended enforcement discretion for petroleum distribution facilities, gasoline storage facilities and bulk fuel terminals in Florida that have been impacted or damaged by 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 10, 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. This action will terminate on September 26, 2017.

FUEL WAIVERS

  • On September 7, 2017, EPA waived the low-volatility conventional gasoline and reformulated gasoline requirements waiver through September 26, 2017, in 38 states and the District of Columbia.
  • On September 21, 2017, EPA waived the highway diesel fuel red dye requirements to allow the use of 15 parts per million sulfur non-road diesel fuel for on-highway vehicles in Florida, effective immediately and through October 6, 2017. Diesel fuel distributed under this waiver may not be introduced into terminal storage tanks from which diesel is dispensed into trucks for distribution to retail outlets after October 6, 2017.

REGION 4 SUPERFUND SITES, OIL SITES AND OTHER FACILITIES

  • EPA Region 4 has reached out to all 274 Risk Management Plan (RMP) facilities within Florida.
     
  • 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 worked with a contractor and conducted the fence repair by September 25, 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.

For information and updates from EPA, visit: www.epa.gov/hurricane-irma

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