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News Releases from Headquarters

EPA Hurricane Irma Update for Saturday, September 9, 2017

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

WASHINGTON – EPA is continuing preparations for Hurricane Irma, which is expected to hit Florida, serviced by EPA Region 4.  Irma has already made landfall in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, covered by EPA Region 2. 

The Agency continues securing and assessing Superfund sites; compiling data for regulated facilities; granting fuel waivers to help stabilize prices at the pump and ensure emergency vehicles have access to fuel; and, preparing for infrastructure assessments and environmental sampling following the storm.                            

As of September 9, 2017, the following information is available:

REGIONAL OPERATIONS CENTERS

  • Region 4: The Region has approximately 44 personnel involved in emergency response efforts. In addition, seven people are deployed to Florida, including Regional Administrator Trey Glenn to the State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee, Fla.
     
  • Staff is also embedded in three south Florida Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) in Palm Beach County, Broward County and Miami-Dade County and will remain for the duration of the storm.
     
  • EPA is in the process of forming field teams for deployment to affected as early as possible considering health and safety. On Scene Coordinators from Region 5 are also deploying to be part of these teams.
     
  • Region 2: About 61 personnel are currently involved in hurricane efforts and assessment teams are deploying to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as soon as possible considering health and safety.  
     
  • This includes four On Scene Coordinators and two Community Involvement Coordinators to the U.S. Virgin Islands and four On Scene Coordinators and two Community Involvement Coordinators to Puerto Rico to assess regulated facilities, identify community outreach needs and conduct hazardous waste and debris assessments.
     
  • These efforts are being augmented by professional staff in EPA Region 2’s Caribbean Environmental Protection Division (CEPD).

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.

FUEL WAIVERS AND ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS

  • This week, EPA extended a low-volatility conventional gasoline waiver through September 26th in 38 states and the District of Columbia.
     
  • EPA also issued Red-Dye Diesel fuel waiver for vehicles used for emergency response and evacuations.
     
  • On Friday, EPA announced that it would exercise its enforcement discretion to allow emergency and backup electric generating units in Monroe County, Florida to operate without meeting all pollution controls in order to facilitate the supply of needed electricity during and after Hurricane Irma.
     
  • This “no action assurance” letter was issued at the request of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in response to the extreme risk posed by Hurricane Irma to the primary backup source of electricity for the Keys.
     
  • 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 matter.

REGION 2 SUPERFUND SITES

  • EPA assessed 23 Superfund and oil sites in Puerto Rico and U.S Virgin Islands to evaluate their vulnerabilities prior to Hurricane Irma hitting.
     
  • As of today, EPA Region 2 has conducted post-hurricane assessments of seven of these facilities and sites and found no significant damage.  
     
  • A complete list of Superfund and oil sites has been generated to prioritize post-hurricane visits.  
     
  • A list of other regulated facilities was also created to conduct pre- and post-storm facility coordination and assessment.
     
  • EPA teams will focus on immediate threats from hazardous substance releases and oil spills, orphan hazardous containers, household hazardous waste, contaminated debris, and drinking water/wastewater issues. 

REGION 4 SUPERFUND SITES

  • The EPA Region 4 Remedial program has completed rapid assessment (desk-top triage) of all 90 remedial sites in within the state of Florida.
     
  • The EPA Region 4 Emergency Response Program secured three drums of Investigation Derived Waste (IDW) at the Anodyne site in Miami yesterday. Drums contained cutting (dirt and rocks) and purge water produced during installation of monitoring well the previous week.
     
  • EPA has been working throughout the week to evaluate 80 sites from Miami to North Carolina. As of today, with the storm’s path continuing to shift, EPA is evaluating additional potentially affected areas in Florida, Alabama and Tennessee.
     
  • 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.

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

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