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Two Million Hazardous Material Containers Collected in Southern Louisiana

Release Date: 02/16/2006
Contact Information: Cynthia Fanning (EPA) at 504-731-8680 (, or Darin Mann (LDEQ) at 225-219-0860 (

(Metaire, Louisiana - Feb. 16, 2006) More than 2 million hazardous material containers have been recovered from areas damaged by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in southern Louisiana. The material is being properly disposed, preventing future environmental and public health problems.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Coast Guard and Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality are working together in a Unified Command to address hazardous materials under a mission assignment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“The partnership between federal, state and local officials in this effort has been extraordinary,” EPA Incident Commander Ronnie Crossland said. “Working together, we are accelerating the pace of Louisiana’s recovery. Keeping hazardous materials out of the landfills and away from the public is an important part of that process.”

More than 1.9 million of the containers are considered “small,” ranging from a few ounces to anything smaller than a 55-gallon drum. Many were flood-damaged household hazardous materials collected by crews going house to house or items brought to collection centers by residents.

Household hazardous materials include products like bleach, propane, batteries, paints, solvents, pesticides and fertilizer. The Unified Command coordinated with local agencies and parishes to establish household hazardous materials collection centers and curbside pick-ups for residents in Orleans, St. Tammany, Lafourche, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, Vermilion, Cameron, and Jefferson parishes. The materials are characterized and segregated for recycling or disposal at collection centers.

"We are grateful to the residents of southern Louisiana. Many are helping make our collection operations successful by separating flood-damaged household chemicals from their ordinary trash," DEQ Incident Commander Daniel Lambert said.

In addition, more than 31,000 drums that are 55-gallon and larger, 29,600 propane tanks, 36,000 cylinders and 4,700 larger containers containing hundreds or even thousands of gallons of hazardous materials were collected from areas across southern Louisiana, including the coast. The Coast Guard has been collecting containers from areas where access by water is required.

“Collecting containers from fragile marshes has been a challenge,” Coast Guard Deputy Incident Commander Rod Elkins said. “We are working to remove hazardous material containers efficiently, while leaving as small a footprint of our activities as possible.”

More than 10 million pounds of waste has been disposed since collection began in October 2005. Residents are reminded about the importance of separating water-damaged household materials curbside and keeping the material away from water meters and fire hydrants.

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