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Hurricane Katrina: EPA Response Continues

Release Date: 9/1/2005
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

     Search and rescue remains EPA's highest priority. Using boats, the Agency's New Orleans response team has rescued more than 200 people.

     EPA investigated a report of two overturned railcars containing anhydrous HCI, a gas that is harmful to breathe and can burn skin. Facility and local responders are addressing the situation. EPA will continue to monitor the situation and provide any needed assistance.

     The ASPECT aircraft is providing data and photos to assist on-the-ground response personnel. ASPECT completed reconnaissance along Louisiana's coastal area before moving to areas near Gulfport, Mississippi.  ASPECT found one pipeline near Burris, Louisiana, leaking crude oil into a marsh area. The Coast Guard is addressing that leak. No major pipeline leaks have been found in oil fields along the Gulf Coast. ASPECT performed aerial inspections of large industrial facilities from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. No major structural damage and no major spills, neither within nor nearby, were found. Neither has EPA's National Response Center received reports of major spills or releases.

     EPA is obtaining additional helicopters to assist with inspections. One is equipped with remote sensing technology and will be used to help the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality conduct a detailed assessment of industry in the affected area.  

     The estimate of drinking water systems that are not working has risen to more than 400. EPA is sending people to assist the Louisiana Department of Health and Human Services repair drinking water systems.  EPA is moving its mobile laboratory to Baton Rouge later today so it will be available to help with laboratory testing as these systems are restored. Additionally, EPA is coordinating a multistate network of labs to conduct water quality testing. Louisiana Department of Health and Human Services has issued "boil water" notices for residents within the impacted areas.

     The Agency's Debris Task Force continues refining a debris management plan and evaluating landfills' conditions and capacities.  

     EPA continues to send personnel and resources to Louisiana in anticipation of upcoming needs when hurricane damage may begin to be addressed.