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Hurricanes Katrina and Rita: Louisiana - Texas - EPA Response Update

Release Date: 9/26/2005
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

     Two helicopters with staff from EPA, the Texas Railroad Commission and the Texas General Land Office performed air reconnaissance over Texas' Rita-impacted areas on Sunday.  The teams flew over the Houston Ship Channel and saw very few spills. Flyovers of Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange, Texas indicated some residential damage, and a small area of Port Arthur was flooded. Few spills were seen, and there was little visual damage to refinery and chemical plant infrastructure.  Helicopters were also flown over Texas' impacted areas, assessing damage to drinking water systems and wastewater treatment facilities.

     Preliminary reconnaissance reports show no change in drinking water systems around New Orleans. There are several broken lines at the six drinking water plants in the Lakes Charles area and the plants will be down at least one week. The access road leading to the East Bank wastewater treatment plant in New Orleans' 9th Ward is underwater. Reconnaissance crews were not able to access the plant for damage assessment.

     EPA, the U.S. Coast Guard and LDEQ personnel conducted joint assessments of Louisiana using six helicopters.

     Sampling started Sunday at the Agriculture Street Landfill Superfund Site.  Nine sediment samples at the site and one water sample from Peoples Canal were taken.  EPA and LDEQ reconnaissance teams determined last week that the cap was not compromised, although the area surrounding the site received major damage and many of the nearby homes were destroyed.

      Environmental assessments and sampling are ongoing for water and sediments in the Hurricane Katrina-affected areas. Teams collected surface water, outfall water, flood water and sediment samples.

     Crews resumed household hazardous waste collection activities in St. Tammany Parish and met with officials in Jefferson Parish to prepare for collection there. Crews also conducted reconnaissance in Lafourche and Plaquemines Parish and in the Grand Isle area of Jefferson Parish. These areas were reflooded by Hurricane Rita, delaying the start of household hazardous waste collection.