EPA Responds to Tropical Storm Marco, Prepares for Tropical Storm Laura
WASHINGTON (August 24, 2020) — With Tropical Storm Marco impacting the Gulf Coast and Tropical Storm Laura projected to follow a similar path, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking the necessary steps to help communities in the Gulf Coast area stay prepared and stands ready to respond accordingly to what could potentially be substantial flooding. Unlike some natural disasters, the onset of a tropical storm or hurricane is foreseeable and allows for early preparations to lessen its effects.
“EPA stands ready to assist the communities in the Gulf Coast that may face back-to-back storms,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Although we are in unprecedented times due to the presence of COVID-19, the agency will ensure the safety of those communities, as well as our preparedness and response personnel.”
EPA continues to work with its tribal, state, local, and federal partners on emergency management activities related to these storms.
The agency assesses conditions at Superfund sites in the potentially affected areas and tasks site managers with assessing conditions and preparing for impacts such as high winds, heavy rainfall, and fire damage. EPA project managers also contact the responsible entities and request implementation of appropriate actions to secure the sites. In addition, the agency often provides an estimate of the total number of potentially impacted industrial, oil, drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities.
To aid facilities, EPA has provided information about release prevention and preparedness requirements and clarifies reporting requirements, including exemptions. Before hurricane force winds and associated storm surge flooding damage industrial processes, operators can take preventive action by safely shutting down processes, placing hazardous chemicals in safe storage locations, or otherwise operating safely under appropriate emergency procedures. If a chemical release does occur, operators should notify appropriate authorities immediately so that a proper response can be carried out.
Debris and household hazardous waste management have a great impact on public safety and can be challenging during natural disasters. EPA has provided detailed information for debris management planning, since storm debris can occur in enormous amounts that overwhelm local landfills and can also present serious dangers to human health and the environment. Residents can help protect their communities, the environment, and the dedicated personnel who respond to hurricanes in order to help communities recover by making sure items such as propane tanks and paint cans are secured prior to a hurricane.
EPA’s primary mission during natural disaster emergencies is to protect people and the environment from chemical, oil, radiological, biological and hazardous threats before, during and after a natural disaster. The agency works with federal, state and local governments, tribes and other stakeholders to reduce risks from hurricanes.
EPA’s central hub for disaster and hurricane information is available at https://www.epa.gov/hurricanes.
For information on EPA's emergency response capabilities, please visit https://www.epa.gov/emergency-response.
For information on FEMA's hurricane preparedness guidance, please visit https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes.