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Hurricane Katrina: Louisiana - EPA Response Update
Release Date: 9/15/2005
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.
EPA and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (http://www.deq.state.la.us/) 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 https://www.epa.gov/katrina/testresults/water.html. Chemical sampling data from Sept. 3, 4 and 6 is available at https://www.epa.gov/katrina/testresults/water.html#chem. Chemical sampling data from Sept. 5 is now undergoing review and validation.
Environmental screening data from EPA's ASPECT aircraft is available at https://www.epa.gov/katrina/testresults/air.html. 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. Yesterday the ASPECT aircraft overflew a chloroacetic acid tank in Orleans Parish and also overflew Plaquemines Parish.
Five teams completed reconnaissance of Orleans Parish, including RMP, FRP and TRI facilities. Heavy wind and water damage were noted in all areas, in addition to multiple small spills and orphan drums and tanks. The teams assessed the items and determined their priority for pickup.
Four teams collected 17 water samples at 14 outfall locations in Orleans, Plaquemines, and St. Bernard Parishes. The Army Corps of Engineers provided real-time information to assist with sample collections. LDEQ teams conducted standard LDEQ water quality and fecal coliform sampling at designated locations in Lake Pontchartrain watershed locations.
EPA and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov/) 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.
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. 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 17,500 containers of household hazardous waste/orphan containers.
LDEQ is monitoring ambient air quality using summa canisters. EPA Trace Atmospheric Gas Analyzer (TAGA) units conducted air quality monitoring in Orleans Parish and in the industrial area on the west bank of the Mississippi.
Reconnaissance was performed on approximately 20 fixed facilities for radiation issues with sources. No readings above background were detected.
EPA air samplers were deployed in the Murphy Oil spill area. Air sampling results from the TAGA unit indicate elevated levels of benzene, toluene and xylene in the oil recovery work area. All levels are below Permissible Exposure Limits and no change in worker protection is required at this time based on review by EPA Health and Safety Officers. The EPA sediment sampling team is in the area to help define the limits of the oil-impacted areas. An EPA environmental assessment team is assisting the St. Bernard Parish EOC and Army units in reconnaissance efforts. A shoreline contamination assessment team has arrived on the site to begin defining the extent of the oil-impacted areas. Road sanding operations and stockpiling of contaminated mud is continuing.
Three sediment sampling teams collected samples at 23 locations in St. Bernard and Orleans Parishes.
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.