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Hurricane Katrina: Louisiana - EPA Response Update

Release Date: 9/16/2005
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

     Eighteen sediment samples from across the New Orleans area were collected by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) on September 10, 2005 and analyzed for bacteria and chemicals.  

     Sediment sampling continues; yesterday teams collected 32 sediment samples at 29 locations in St. Bernard and Orleans Parishes.

     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 490 drinking water systems are now operational.  These systems served more than 2,100,000 people.  Twenty-six drinking water systems are operational with boil water advisories.  

     Four teams collected 20 water samples in Orleans, Plaquemines, and St. Bernard Parishes.  An EPA-LDEQ team conducted standard water quality and fecal coliform sampling at designated Lake Pontchartrain watershed locations.  

     Responders are assessing the area's wastewater facilities.  More than 82 percent of major municipal wastewater facilities are operational.  Half of the area's major industrial wastewater facilities are operational.  More than 59 percent of minor municipal facilities are operational.

     EPA and contractors have collected more than 19,400 containers of household hazardous waste/orphan containers.

     Reconnaissance teams specifically targeted RMP, FRP and TRI facilities.  Numerous containers, including 55-gallon drums, propane cylinders, and household chemical containers were observed.

     LDEQ is monitoring ambient air quality using summa canisters.  EPA Trace Atmospheric Gas Analyzer (TAGA) units conducted random air sampling in Orleans Parish; at the outfall near the Coast Guard station in Metairie; and in the downtown New Orleans area.  TAGA units have been monitoring the Murphy Oil area daily and levels have declined.

     Large oil spills were observed along Highway 15 near Bellevue and Pointe a la Heche; information has been communicated to the U.S. Coast Guard, as the lead for oil spill cleanup.

     Approximately 18 facilities were evaluated for radiation issues.  No readings above background levels were detected at any of the sites.

     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.