EPA Sediment and Surface Water Sampling Results
and Conclusions for
and Lake Pontchartrain after Hurricanes
Katrina and Rita
Speakers: Donald Williams (6SF-LT)
Technical Support Team Leader
6, Dallas, TX
Level of Knowledge:
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane
Katrina made landfall near Buras,
Louisiana, with winds of 145 miles
per hour. By 11:00am, the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans and sections of St.
Bernard Parish had been flooded with up to 10 feet of water. Sections of
Jefferson and Plaquemines Parishes were also flooded as a result of levee
breaches. Under a mission assignment from the Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA), EPA began sampling floodwaters and sediments left behind as
floodwaters receded. The initial sampling was conducted to assess the presence
of hazardous substances for acute effects from short-term exposure of emergency
workers and residents returning to their properties.
Floodwater sampling was
conducted from September 6, 2005, until "unwatering"
of the impacted areas was completed in mid-October. The results of
approximately 1,500 sediment samples, collected in four phases from September
10 to the present, indicate that, in general, the flooding from Hurricanes
Katrina and Rita did not result in soil contamination in the flood-impacted
areas. A major oil spill in St. Bernard Parish was the result of the hurricane,
as was the presence of polynuclear aromatic
hydrocarbons at the Agriculture Street Landfill Superfund site in New Orleans.
a systematic approach for identifying environmental conditions and
prioritizing potential risks from natural disasters
the level of communication and coordination necessary among various
federal, state, and local agencies and the general public