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News Releases

News Releases from Headquarters

EPA Hurricane Maria Update for Wednesday, September 27

09/27/2017
Contact Information: 
Press (press@epa.gov)

WASHINGTON (September 27, 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 127 personnel are currently involved in hurricane response efforts.

In Puerto Rico, seven EPA employees from Region 2’s Caribbean Environmental Protection Division are assessing five wastewater facilities today. EPA employees are co-located with FEMA in its coordination center in San Juan to facilitate efficient interaction with the Puerto Rico government and other federal agencies.

In Puerto Rico, EPA assessment teams have completed preliminary assessments of the Battery Recycling Company Superfund site in Arecibo and the Corozal Well Superfund site in Corozal. EPA also completed an assessment of Puma Caribe (CAPECO), a major hub for oil storage and transportation in Puerto Rico. Site visits by EPA personnel determined there was no significant damage by Hurricane Maria.  

In St. Croix, USVI, two EPA water assessment and sampling teams joined representatives of the USVI government on September 25 to begin some basic field sampling of public drinking water systems. On September 26, the teams took samples from 17 USVI public water systems. Sample results will be provided to the USVI government and other system owners/operators to inform and assist them in getting their drinking water systems back up and running.

House damaged in St. CroixDamaged home in Peppertree Village of Barren Spot, St. Croix, USVI, where EPA conducted public drinking water sampling on September 26. Photo Courtesy of the U.S. EPAAssessment 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 sites, oil sites, and chemical facilities in Puerto Rico and the USVI as part of the EPA re-deployment plan.

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 issued the following NAA related to Hurricane Maria:

EPA announced that it will exercise its enforcement discretion for mobile power generators that have not been certified to meet U.S. pollution control standards and are imported for emergency use in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as a result of Hurricane Maria. EPA’s no action assurance in Puerto Rico, which was previously issued on September 22, 2017, was amended today to broaden the categories of equipment due to extreme damage. EPA’s no action assurance in the U.S. Virgin Islands was issued today due to currently reported conditions, including preliminary information about extreme damage to the U.S. Virgin Islands’ power grid, including destruction of the power transmission infrastructure. These no action assurances cover mobile power generators that are imported before January 31, 2018.

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: www.epa.gov/hurricane-maria

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