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News Releases from HeadquartersOffice of the Administrator (AO)

EPA Securing Florida Superfund Sites Prior to Hurricane Irma

09/06/2017

CONTACT: press@epa.gov

   
CONTACT: press@epa.gov
 
WASHINGTON (September 6, 2017) – U.S. EPA, along with federal, state and local partners, is carefully monitoring Hurricane Irma and evaluating the storm’s potential threat to Superfund sites in South Florida. 
 
EPA’s Region 4 office in Atlanta is contacting approximately 22 current or former National Priorities List (NPL) sites within Florida's southernmost 100 miles. EPA is contacting the sites to ensure that they are secure, and that no contaminants migrate offsite.
 
EPA will continue monitoring Superfund sites throughout the state and region as the storm’s path evolves, and will provide updates as new information becomes available.
 
EPA is taking the following steps to evaluate and secure Superfund sites prior to Hurricane Irma making landfall:
 
  • Technical staff in the Region 4 office are currently reviewing the South Florida sites to evaluate any vulnerabilities at each site. Every Superfund site is complex and unique, so the vulnerability of each site varies.
  • 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 activity is on-going at the 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. 
  • As part of this review, sites are also prioritized by vulnerability for on-site evaluation once the storm has passed.
  • 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. 
  • Unauthorized entry at any Superfund site, either prior to or following the storm, is prohibited as these sites can be extremely dangerous and can pose significant threats to human health.  
These steps are consistent with how EPA has historically prepared Superfund sites for natural disasters, such as hurricanes. To learn more about EPA’s Hurricane Irma preparation and response activities, visit www.epa.gov/hurricane-irma.