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Hurricane Katrina: Louisiana - EPA Response Update

Release Date: 9/14/2005
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

     EPA and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality ( have posted the results of the first rounds of biological and chemical water sampling.  The data has been reviewed and validated through a quality assurance process to ensure scientific accuracy.  

     Biological sampling data from Sept. 3-10 are available at  Chemical sampling data from Sept. 3, 4 and 6 is available at  Chemical sampling data from Sept. 5 is now undergoing review and validation.  

     Environmental screening data from EPA's ASPECT aircraft is available at  Data produced by ASPECT is non-validated and used by EPA and other agencies for screening purposes to assess immediate environmental hazards.  Information and data from ASPECT analyses are forwarded to personnel on the ground who evaluate the data and request follow-up air monitoring, if warranted.

     EPA and CDC are working together to identify potential hazards that workers may be exposed to in the flood area.  EPA has requested that Federal Occupational Health physicians be deployed in New Orleans and St. Tammany Parish to assist workers by issuing prescriptions and monitoring workers for health effects.  OSHA will provide a team to assist with worker health monitoring.

     EPA water sampling teams collected samples at 11 outfall locations and five floodwater locations yesterday.  LDEQ contractors conducted standard water quality and fecal coliform sampling in Lake Pontchartrain and selected Bayous.  The United States Public Health Service has taken the lead for sampling water and sediments for biological contaminants.  

     EPA and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals ( continue to assess drinking water systems and provide technical assistance to help restore safe drinking water to affected communities.  More than 400 drinking water systems are now operational.  Thirty-six drinking water systems are operational with boil water advisories.  

     An EPA Mobile Lab is stationed in St. Tammany Parish offering support to residents with private wells that have been flooded.  Residents can bring samples directly to the Mobile Lab for testing.

     Responders are assessing the area's wastewater facilities.  More than 82 percent of major municipal wastewater facilities are operational.  More than 29 percent of major industrial wastewater facilities are operational.  

     EPA and contractors have collected more than 9700 containers of household hazardous waste/orphan containers in Mandeville, Slidell and St Tammany Parish.

     Two teams completed reconnaissance of the Bayou Bonfouca, Southern Shipbuilding, Madisonville Creosote Works, Agriculture Street landfill, and Delatte Metals NPL sites.  The Bayou Bonfouca site was secure but the pump and treat system was non-operational.  Visual investigation of the capped on-site landfill indicated that the cap was not damaged and appeared to be in good condition.  The Southern Shipbuilding site was secure, but closed.  Teams are working to contact the current owner for access and to further assess the site's condition.  The Agricultural Street landfill site is underwater and inaccessible to the reconaissance teams.  EPA will perform an overflight assessment.  The Madisonville Creosote Works treatment facility appeared to be in good condition.  The decontamination pad was intact and in good condition.  At Delatte Metals, the smelting and concrete structures sustained no visible damage.

     LDEQ is monitoring ambient air quality using summa canisters.  EPA Trace Atmospheric Gas Analyzer (TAGA) units conducted air quality monitoring in Orleans Parish and at the outfall near the USCG station in Metairie.  Passive air monitoring devices will be distributed to EPA staff working in hurricane-affected areas.  EPA and OSHA will develop a plan to measure air monitoring results from the individual pasive air monitoring devices worn by sampling teams.

     EPA's joint field operations with state officials are ongoing.  The EPA and State of Louisiana Joint Incident Management Team is operating 24 hours a day at the emergency center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.