An official website of the United States government.

We've made some changes to EPA.gov. If the information you are looking for is not here, you may be able to find it on the EPA Web Archive or the January 19, 2017 Web Snapshot.

News Releases

News Releases from Headquarters

EPA Hurricane Irma Update for Monday, September 11, 2017

09/11/2017
Contact Information: 
Press (press@epa.gov)

MIAMI (September 11, 2017) – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to coordinate closely with local, state and federal partners as the Agency begins to respond to the impact of Hurricane Irma. EPA staff remain on the ground in South Florida. EPA Region 4 Administrator Trey Glenn will return to Tallahassee mid-week to work alongside our state and local partners and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to oversee EPA’s continued response efforts. EPA Assessment Team personnel will mobilize to Florida tomorrow, Tuesday, September 12, 2017.

As of September 11, 2017, the following information is available:

REGIONAL OPERATIONS CENTERS

Region 2: About 77 personnel are currently involved in hurricane response efforts. Assessment teams have been deployed to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and are conducting operations.

• EPA has two teams on the ground in Puerto Rico and four teams deployed in the U.S Virgin Islands to conduct assessments. More teams are being deployed in the coming days.

Region 4: The Region has approximately 57 personnel involved in emergency response efforts.

• Current EPA R4 staffing consists of 50 EPA staff and 2 START contractors working in or coordinating with the REOC, 1 EPA liaison at the FEMA Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC) in Atlanta, 1 EPA representative at the Florida State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC), and 2 EPA senior managers in Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

• The Regional Administrator is in coordination with Florida, Alabama, and Georgia and is working with emergency response staff to determine regional assessment and response deployment activities.

• The EPA Region 4 Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center (AFC) is closed today due to current and projected adverse weather conditions; however, the Regional Emergency Operations Center (REOC) remains operational and staffed.

•  Personnel support from EPA Region 5 are mobilizing to Atlanta today and will rally at the Region 4 Regional Readiness Center (RRC) in Norcross, Georgia.

Florida

• The EPA Region 4 Mobile Command Post (MCP) will deploy to Tallahassee to support Florida SEOC operations and field operations, as needed.

• Region 4 Field Assessment Teams are meeting at the RRC today to receive refresher training covering technologies and procedures pertaining to facility assessments. EPA Assessment Team personnel will mobilize to Florida on Tuesday, September 12, 2017.

• Florida ESF-10 (Oil and Hazardous Materials Response) personnel continue to assist state, tribal and federal partners in preparing for post-landfall response and mitigation actions. Primary focus has been in the following areas:

  • Ensuring that impacted drinking water and wastewater facilities are returned to service as quickly as possible. EPA is supporting this activity with FDEP and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

  • Developing and implementing debris management strategies and operations. EPA is working with FDEP, Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and the USACE to support their needs.

Alabama: The Alabama Emergency Management Agency (EMA) is currently operating SEOC at Level 1 (full operation) activation. EPA Region 4 continues to maintain communication with the State to provide support at the ESF-10 Desk in the SEOC, as needed.

North Carolina: The North Carolina SEOC is currently operating at Level 4 activation. They are monitoring Irma’s path and EPA is maintaining communication with the State to determine if EPA assistance is needed.

South Carolina: The South Carolina SEOC is currently operating at Level 1 (full operation) activation. They are monitoring Hurricane Irma’s path. EPA is maintaining communication with the State to determine if EPA assistance is needed.

Mississippi: The Mississippi SEOC is currently operating at Level 4 activation. They are monitoring Irma’s path and EPA is maintaining communication with the State to determine if EPA assistance is needed.

Region 4 Federally Recognized Tribes: Region 4 continues to coordinate with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

RISK MANAGEMENT PLANS (RMPS)

• EPA is communicating with the Risk Management Program (RMP) and Facility Response Plan (FRP) bulk oil facilities to ensure they are secure and identify any vulnerabilities.

• EPA’s Remedial program is currently performing desk-top triage of all remedial sites in Region 4 coastal states.

• EPA Region 4 is preparing a Site-Specific Data Management Plan for the incident.

ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS AND FUEL WAIVERS

• EPA and FDEP are currently collaborating on a statewide order regarding National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for those facilities impacted by Hurricane Irma. This action will help ports and other facilities get back into operation as quickly as possible.

• EPA plans to issue a No Action Assurance to assist all Florida power plant facilities to maintain the supply of electricity to customers and facilities in Florida. 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 Hurricane Irma.

• EPA will issue additional NAAs as requested by DEP, will help Florida get fuel to gas stations quicker, and will ensure that fuel deliveries won't be delayed as a result of power outages and bulk fuel terminals.

• On Sunday, Florida requested and EPA issued a No Action Assurance for Tampa Electric Company’s Big Bend Station, Polk Power Station and Bayside Power Station for compliance with air permit condition to ensure adequate supply of electric power. 

• On Friday, EPA issued a No Action Assurance 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 Hurricane Irma.

• EPA policy allows the agency to issue no action assurances 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.

• Last week, EPA extended a low-volatility conventional gasoline waiver through September 26, 2017, in 38 states and the District of Columbia.

• EPA also issued a Red-Dye Diesel fuel waiver for vehicles used for emergency response and evacuations.

REGION 2 SUPERFUND SITES, OIL SITES AND OTHER FACILITIES

• As of today, EPA Region 2 has conducted post-hurricane assessments of 7 of these facilities and sites and found no significant damage. More assessments are being conducted today and the region expects an update by tomorrow. 

• EPA is in the process of assessing regulated facilities in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

• EPA teams are focused on immediate threats from hazardous substance releases and oil spills, orphan hazardous containers, household hazardous waste, contaminated debris and drinking water/wastewater issues.

• EPA assessed 23 Superfund and oil sites in Puerto Rico and the U.S Virgin Islands to evaluate their vulnerabilities prior to Hurricane Irma hitting.

REGION 4 SUPERFUND SITES, OIL SITES AND OTHER FACILITIES

• EPA staff on the ground in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties are coordinating with local government partners to conduct initial assessments of Superfund sites in those counties. All Superfund sites in Florida will be assessed. This will take time. In Miami-Dade County for instance, the Miami International Airport as well as several roads remain closed.

• Local partners were able to make initial visual assessments of the three Superfund sites in Palm Beach County this morning: Solitron Devices, BMI-Textron and Trans Circuits and all were secure with no signs of damage or flooding when surveyed. 

• Although not a Superfund site, EPA state partner FDEP is actively monitoring the New Wales Mosaic operating fertiliizer manufacturing facility in Polk County and all of the facilities that maintain gypsum stacks. FDEP worked proactively, communicating with these facilities ahead of the storm.

• Like the various other facilities identified for post-landfall assessment by the Hazardous Assessment Response Team and other response teams, this facility and others like it will be properly assessed to ensure there are no potential adverse impacts to human health and the environment.

Prior to the storm, the EPA Region 4 Remedial program completed rapid assessment (desk-top triage) of all 90 remedial sites in within the state of Florida and determined the following:

• Cabot Koppers and Airco Plating Company are groundwater remediation sites and the vulnerability was identified as a disruption in pump and treat should flooding occur.

• Tyndall Air Force base was determined to be low vulnerability as it is still in the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study stage (no remediation occurring).

• Homestead Air Force Base was rated as high due to potential for structural damage (similar to what occurred during Hurricane Andrew in 1992).

• There are no above ground concerns with the Cabot Koppers and Airco Plating sites. These sites are being monitored for groundwater restoration. The monitoring aspects of the groundwater at these sites will be assessed after the hurricane passes to verify any impacts.

• Both Tyndall and Homestead Air Force Bases have been contacted and they will inform us immediately if they experience impacts from the hurricane. The public cannot access these facilities without authorization from the Air Force. These sites are very secure.

•  No active remediation is occurring at these sites.

  • If any site in the path of the storm is found to pose an immediate threat to nearby populations, EPA will immediately alert local officials.

  • If cleanup activity is on-going at a site, EPA will instruct the on-site contractor to secure the site immediately. This includes evacuating personnel, ceasing all activity and securing equipment and other potentially harmful materials. If no activity is currently occurring at the site, the site is considered secured but remains closely monitored.

  • After the storm passes, floodwaters recede and it is deemed safe to enter a site, EPA remedial managers and contractors conduct rapid assessments of sites based on priority to identify any damage and initiate cleanup plans if necessary.

  • The Region 4 Superfund Division plans to perform field assessments at all NPL sites in the State of Florida.

###