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Response to Hurricane Katrina

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EPA has conducted more than 2,400 incident responses since deploying emergency response personnel following the destruction left by Hurricane Katrina along the MS and AL coastline. An incident response is defined as an investigation of a National Response Center Report, contacting facilities, and reporting hazmat debris while conducting land or water assessment in the affected areas.

Assessment and Removal Team Activity

EPA is operating under three divisions that were formed to address Hancock (Division A), Harrison (Division B), and Jackson, MS and Mobile and Baldwin, AL (Division C) counties, which are the most affected areas along the coast. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) is serving as liaison between EPA and the three divisions. Coastal MS experienced storm surge flooding of 18 to 22 feet above normal tide levels and significant rainfall amounts during Hurricane Katrina.

Division A – Hancock County, Miss.

Assessment and removal activities were conducted west of Edwardsville and Waveland. The team assessed items identified in a recent flyover and recovered 13 5-pound propane tanks, five fire extinguishers, four 1-gallon paint cans, nine 5-gallon buckets, two car batteries, two 16-gallon compression tanks, and one miscellaneous container.

Assessment and debris removal activities were also conducted in Pearlington.  The team has recovered 16 propane tanks, 13 gas tanks, one poly tank, 12 5-gallon buckets, a 1-gallon, gas container, 18 1-gallon paint cans, a fire extinguisher, five car batteries, one 55-gallon drum, four 1-quart containers of motor oil, and 15 miscellaneous containers.
Assessment and debris removal activities were conducted along waterways in the Bay St. Lois area.  The team has recovered 20 1-gallon paint cans, three propane tanks, five 5-gallon gas cans, and 22 miscellaneous containers.

Division B – Harrison County, Miss.

Three teams were deployed to observe debris removal operations and remove previously located items. Areas surveyed included D’Iberville, Biloxi, Gulfport, Long Beach, and Pass Christian ( Harrison County, Miss.). A rapid assessment team was also cued for response to calls and situations. One of the teams observed operations at a landfill.

A team continued observing debris removal operations in Pass Christian and Long Beach. They have recovered a 750-gallon stainless steel tank in Long Beach, a 250-gallon LP tank, and various household hazardous waste items (1-gallon cans containing petroleum product, aerosol-type cans, and detergent buckets).  In addition, the team is scheduled to pick up a 1,000-gallon LP tank at the fire station.

Division C – Jackson County, Miss., and Baldwin and Mobile Counties, Ala.

An assessment team conducted boat operations in and around Mobile Bay and verified the existence of previously identified/reported items in this area, including a 10,000-gallon aboveground storage tank (AST) in Mobile Bay. They also investigated a potentially leaking pipeline/sheen in the Chickasaw area of the Mobile River. The sheen was a result of a regularly occurring freshwater discharge from a nearby paper mill. In addition, they confirmed a beached CONEX box that is half buried.

A third team worked in Bayou La Batre and conducted oversight of assessment and recovery of hazardous materials within the surge line in Bayou La Batre.  The team recovered and took the following to the collection area:  seven 55-gallon steel drums, including six empty drums, and one drum containing some product, 84 small containers, six 5-gallon buckets, four 20-pound LP tanks, a 50-gallon LP tanks, two compressed gas cylinders, two gasoline cans, seven batteries, and three refrigerant cylinders.

Water Systems

An EPA mobile drinking water laboratory, stationed in Gulfport to assist the MS Department of Health with analysis of drinking water samples, was restarted. The lab has processed more than 425 drinking water samples and continues to analyze new samples each day.

A Water System Evaluation Team is scheduled to deploy today to assist FEMA in public assistance documentation work at drinking water and waste water facilities in Mississippi.

Air Monitoring

The Ambient Air Monitoring Team has been scouting debris burn sites in Harrison, Jackson, and Hancock Counties and locating appropriate locations for air monitoring equipment.  Five suitable locations have been identified.  

The Air Monitoring Support Team has collected 21 PM 2.5, 21 PM 10 and 21 asbestos samples. All Air data results will be coordinated with EPA’s Emergency Response Team. They have assessed several debris burn sites and obtained permission to sample at five of the larger sites that are near populated areas.

Sediment Sampling

A total of 23 samples were collected from several facilities in the Mississippi area. The Science and Ecosystem Support Division plans to collect eight samples from three other locations.

Historical Responses

Emergency Fuel Waiver for AL, FL, LA, MS



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