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News Releases from Headquarters

EPA Irma Update for Thursday, September 14, 2017

09/14/2017
Contact Information: 
Press (press@epa.gov)

WASHINGTON (September 14, 2017) – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to coordinate closely with local, state, and federal partners in response to Hurricane Irma.

Today response teams were on the ground assessing impacted facilities throughout Florida.

An EPA response team meets for a safety briefing before assessing sites in Tampa, Fla. – Photo Credit: EPA.

As of September 14, 2017, the following information is available:

REGIONAL OPERATIONS CENTERS

Region 2:

  • About 110 personnel are currently involved in response efforts. Assessment teams have been deployed to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and are conducting on-the-ground operations.

  • EPA has two teams in Puerto Rico and four teams in the U.S Virgin Islands to conduct water and debris assessments and hazard evaluations.

Region 4:

  • The Region has approximately 78 personnel involved in emergency response efforts at the Regional Emergency Operations Center (REOC) in Atlanta, the FEMA Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC) in Atlanta, and the Florida State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Tallahassee.

    Florida:

  • Regional Administrator Trey Glenn is in the SEOC in Tallahassee and continues coordination with state agencies on response.
     

  • Facility assessment teams began assessment at 194 facilities prioritized by the Florida SEOC ESF-10 (Oil and Hazardous Materials Response) Desk. 177 facilities are assigned for assessment. 94 facilities were assessed with no issues reported. The list is composed of a combination of facility types (e.g., Facility Response Plan [FRP] and Risk Management Plan [RMP] facilities).

  • The Region 4 Air, Pesticides and Toxics Management Division contacted 103 RMP facilities. One of those facilities, Pilgrim’s Pride in Live Oak, indicated that they had a release that is now stopped. The site will be prioritized for a field assessment. All other facilities contacted indicated that they had no known releases.

  • The Region 4 Water Protection Division (WPD) continues to coordinate with FDEP and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) on water and drinking water issues. The Water Team has arrived in Tallahassee and is working with USACE at the Florida SEOC to support preliminary water and wastewater system assessments. 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.

  • 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 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Division identified four EPA-lead RCRA corrective action sites in Florida to be assessed by field assessment teams as they deploy to nearby areas.

    Alabama:

  • The Alabama Emergency Management Agency (EMA) is currently operating the SEOC at Level 3 (elevated) activation. The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) notified Region 4 that the 195 RMP facilities in Alabama have not been impacted. EPA is maintaining communication with the state to determine if EPA assistance is needed.

    Georgia:

  • The Georgia SEOC is currently operating at a Level 1 (full activation and fully staffed) activation. Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) notified Region 4 that the 275 RMP facilities in Georgia have not been impacted. EPA is maintaining communication with the state to determine if EPA assistance is needed.

  • An EPA-lead RCRA site in Georgia will be assessed by field assessment teams as they deploy to nearby areas.

  • All 159 counties are now included in the FEMA Order for Emergency Services and Debris Removal.

  • Damage assessments, debris removal, and recovery operations are underway throughout the state.

    North Carolina:

  • The state has returned to normal daily operations.

    South Carolina:

  • The South Carolina SEOC returned to Operating Condition 3 on September 12, 2017, and is maintaining limited 24hr operations. The State Emergency Response Team (SERT) is transitioning to damage assessment, re-entry and sheltering operations following the impacts from Hurricane Irma.

  • An EPA-lead RCRA site in Georgia will be assessed by field assessment teams as they deploy to nearby areas.

    Mississippi:

  • The Mississippi SEOC is currently operating at Level 3 (modified). EPA is maintaining communication with the state to determine if EPA assistance is needed.

    Tennessee:

  • The Tennessee SEOC remains at elevated activation.

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 assessment of all remedial sites in Region 4 coastal states.

  • EPA Region 4 has prepared a Site-Specific Data Management Plan for the incident.

    ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS AND FUEL WAIVERS

  • NPDES Permits - Yesterday, 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:

    • Yesterday, 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.
       

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

    REGION 2 SUPERFUND SITES, OIL SITES AND OTHER FACILITIES

  • EPA assessment teams have completed all assessments of Superfund sites and oil sites in Puerto Rico and in the U.S Virgin Islands, with the exception of two oil sites where EPA was previously doing cleanup work:

    • One site in Guayanilla Bay, Puerto Rico, is the site of cleanup of a sub-surface oil plume. While no spills have been reported from this site, EPA will continue to assess this site.

    • The Cruz Bay Oil Tank site on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands is the site of a cleanup involving an oil storage tank that still contains some oil sludge. The tank appears to have been damaged during the storm, but overflights of the area have not shown any oil spills from the site. EPA will investigate this site once it is accessible.
       

  • EPA Region 2’s regulated facility team is actively gathering information from regulated facilities via facility personnel in both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

    • EPA has completed initial assessments of 89 facilities in Puerto Rico, including five field assessments. While four of the five facilities had some minor hurricane damage due to fallen trees and power outages, there have been no reported major spills or chemical releases at regulated facilities in Puerto Rico.
       

    • EPA is continuing its assessment of regulated facilities in USVI. To date, assessments of 16 facilities have been completed in the USVI. Field assessments were performed at 15 of the 16 facilities.

REGION 4 SUPERFUND SITES, OIL SITES AND OTHER FACILITIES

  • EPA deployed six NPL Assessment Teams on Tuesday, September 12, 2017, who began assessment work on September 13, 2017. 30 of 90 total sites were assessed yesterday. Two sites require follow up:

    • Fairfax Wood Treating, Jacksonville - Due to heavy rain, some runoff concerns were identified at an on-site retention point and a washout underneath some site fencing. Crews are being mobilized to address the washout and samples. Samples will be collected from the pond to determine whether contamination issues are present/absent.

    • U.S. Naval Air Station Cecil Field, Jacksonville - Due to flooding, the air-sparging unit has a compressor failure. Several monitoring wells were also flooded but appeared to be in good shape. A contractor is currently working to repair the air-sparging unit.
       

  • EPA assessed 10 of 35 sites in Georgia yesterday. No issues were identified and no follow-up is required at this time.

  • EPA assessed 9 of 22 sites in South Carolina yesterday. No issues were identified and no follow-up is required at this time.

REGION 2 DEBRIS MANAGEMENT:

•  EPA’s debris team in the USVI has worked with USACE and the USVI government to identify five debris staging sites in St. Thomas.

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

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