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Pollution Response Continues in Wake of Ike

Release Date: 09/28/2008
Contact Information: Joint Information Center 252-267-3662

PASADENA, Texas - The Unified Command here continues to make steady progress identifying, assessing and overseeing the cleanup of post-hurricane pollution sites throughout southeast Texas Sunday.

Unified Command personnel responded to 2,221 pollution and displaced hazardous material reports in the week since the command was established.

"These cases are typical of what we find after storm surges and hurricane-force winds," said Incident Commander Althea Foster of the Environmental Protection Agency. "They are typically small and are all very manageable."

No major oil spills or hazardous materials issues have been identified. Of the total reported cases, 1,774 remain open, with 10 of those sites remaining in the assessment phase. The Unified Command has closed 447 cases.

A team of technical experts must assess the spill and either supervise cleanup by the responsible party, or clean up the site directly before a case is closed. A multi-agency team conducts a final assessment of the area to ensure the area's cleanliness.

More than 200 people from the EPA, Coast Guard, Texas General Land Office and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality comprise the Unified Command. They are working closely with other government agencies and with industry to mitigate the impact of the hurricane.

The Unified Command plans to finalize its oversight of oil pollution recovery in the coming weeks, and will continue to assist local communities with the recovery and removal of displaced hazardous material containers. Government oversight personnel assigned to other commands are working closely with the Unified Command to manage any pollution that may be discovered during the salvage and debris-removal process.

It is possible that as private boat owners pull their sunken or partially submerged private vessels from the water, there will be more spills. Members of the public should call the National Response Center at (800) 424-8802 to report any pollution or displaced hazardous materials.

The public should report oiled or injured wildlife by calling Texas Parks & Wildlife at (281) 842-8100.