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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 3,400 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 .

Four field teams were active in Division Alpha. Team 1 continued to conduct assessment and removal activities in Pass Christian in support of Division Bravo. Team 2 continued to conduct assessment and removal activities in Waveland. Team 3 and Team 4 combined activities which included continued assessment and removal activities in Bay St. Louis.

Division B – Harrison County, Miss.

Two field teams were active in Division Bravo. Team one continued removing hazardous materials in Gulfport while Team 2 continued its sweep through Pass Christian.

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

Team 1 removed drums from a site in Bayou Casotte where several hundred drums were deposited by the storm surge. Approximately 300 55-gallon drums were recovered during the operation. Team 2 continued removal operations in downtown Pascagoula recovering numerous small items. Team 2 also assisted Team 1 at Mississippi Phosphates recovering 20 55-gallon drums.

Public Outreach

On October 29, 2005, the Community Involvement group with support from the Hazardous Waste Collection Branch coordinated a five-site household hazardous waste (HHW) collection day with the EPA Hazardous Material Collection Branch. Citizens deposited HHW at five locations in Jackson County: St Martin, Ocean Springs, Gulf Park Community, Gautier, and Pascagoula. Initial counts indicate that approximately 13,700 items were collected from the five collection points.

Response Corps personnel have begun distributing fliers for the upcoming November 5 and November 9 events. Concurrent to the collection events, Response Corps personnel assessed what types of information local community members need (mold, how to deal with dead animals, etc.) as well as distribute guidance on separating wastes in anticipation of collection.

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 108 PM 2.5, 108 PM 10 and 89 asbestos sample, along with 35 VOC, 35 SVOC, 35 carbonyls and 35 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 Above Ground Storage Tank (AST) Removal Team removed a total of 22 ASTs, including one 30,000-gallon AST and one 5,000-gallon AST. To date, a total of 103 ASTs have been removed.

Historical Responses

Emergency Fuel Waiver for AL, FL, LA, MS




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