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Response to Hurricane Katrina

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EPA personnel assess a chemistry lab at a high school in Bay St. Louis, Miss. EPA has conducted more than 3,300 incident responses since deploying emergency response personnel following the destruction left by Hurricane Katrina along the Mississippi and Alabama 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, Mississippi Mobile and Baldwin, Alabama (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 .

Team 1 conducted secondary assessment and removal activities in Pearlington. There has been increased collection as a result of residents re-entering the area.

Team 2 conducted assessment and removal activities in Waveland, and Team 3 conducted assessment and removal activities in Bay St. Louis. In addition, Team 3 responded to a report of numerous drums located near the old collection center in the vicinity of Longfellow near an armory. An ATSDR representative continues to meet with representatives of various restaurants and volunteer organizations to discuss health and safety concerns.

EPA, with contractor support, conducted perimeter air monitoring in response to a smoldering fire near Pearlington and Stennis at a debris site, which began in a vegetation pile and spread to a nearby debris pile. Each pile measured approximately 15-ft by 40-ft long. No elevated readings above background were obtained.

Division B – Harrison County, Miss.

Division Bravo deployed two teams to collect accessible hazardous waste and document areas where debris piles still exist in the areas east and west of Highway 49.

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

Team 1 observed Army Corps of Engineers contractor debris segregation and disposal at local landfills. The team also reported separated hazardous materials that require collection by EPA teams.

Team 4 conducted removal operations in Pascagoula, Miss., recovering household hazardous waste from curbside debris piles.

Public Outreach

The Region 4 Response Corps continued to distribute fliers for the upcoming household hazardous waste collection day in Jackson County on October 29. Citizens will be allowed to drop off HHW at five locations in Jackson County. To date the team has distributed approximately 6,000 fliers. The team coordinated with state officials regarding HHW collection in Harrison and Hancock Counties.

Air Monitoring

The Air Monitoring Support Team is collecting PM 2.5, PM 10, with metals analysis and asbestos at three permanent sampling sites in Pascagoula, Gulfport and Stennis Air Bases. Additionally, the VOC, SVOC, carbonyl, and hexavalent chromium samplers are being collected at these sites.

The team is also operating three sites near larger burn area. They are sampling for PM 2.5, PM 10 and asbestos. The team has collected a total of 84 PM 2.5, 84 PM 10 and 55 asbestos sample, along with 23 VOC, 23 SVOC, 23 carbonyls and 23 hexavalent chromium samples. All Air data results will be coordinated with EPA’s Emergency Response Team.

Water Systems

An EPA mobile drinking water laboratory, stationed in Gulfport has processed more than 1,323 drinking water samples and continues to analyze new samples each day.

The Waste Water Treatment situation continues to improve. In Mississippi, the Delisle Waste Water Treatment Plant is now operating normally and East Biloxi is still operating primary treatment only. The state of Alabama reported that Dauphin Island's Wastewater Treatment plant is now operating at limited capacity. This means that all municipal wastewater treatment facilities in Alabama and Mississippi are now considered to be operational.

AST Branch

The Branch Director took an over flight to assess the Port Bienville Industrial Park and determine the extent of cleanup activities at various industrial facilities. The over flight revealed approximately 30 additional ASTs. Currently, the AST Removal Team has identified at least 90 ASTs requiring removal in Division A.

Historical Responses

Emergency Fuel Waiver for AL, FL, LA, MS




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