Hurricane Florence Response
EPA is coordinating closely with local, state, and federal partners as the Agency focuses on responding to the impacts of Hurricane Florence. EPA is monitoring numerous sources of information for reports on releases of oil and hazardous substances from first responders engaged in search and rescue efforts, as well as media observations and reporting, information from facility personnel embedded at their sites, and the National Response Center. EPA is also monitoring information flows from the local command posts, state, and regional emergency operations centers.
EPA On-Scene Coordinators (OSCs) are deployed to the State Emergency Operation Centers (SEOCs) in North Carolina and South Carolina and to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Regional Response Coordination Center in Atlanta to assist with Emergency Support Function (ESF) 10 for Oil and Hazardous Substances response efforts. Additional OSCs and equipment are ready to deploy. EPA continues to coordinate with our federal, state, tribal, and local government partners to provide assistance as needed.
Tips to Stay Safe
ALWAYS CALL 911 if you are in immediate danger and need emergency help.
- Avoid exposure to mold or bacteria. Mold and bacteria growth after flood waters recede can be hazardous to your health.
- Start the recovery process. If you have insurance, and it’s safe to return home, call your insurance company to file a claim. Take photos and videos of all damages before you start cleaning up.
- Extreme heat and humidity can be dangerous. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, and take frequent rest breaks.
Update: September 20, 2018
On September 20, EPA Region 4 Administrator Trey Glenn continued to coordinate with EPA’s state and federal partners in North Carolina in response to the ongoing natural disaster caused by Hurricane Florence. He participated in meetings with North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael Regan and North Carolina Department of Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler in addition to other meetings on response efforts in the North Carolina Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh.
At the same time, EPA Superfund site assessment teams continued preliminary assessments of assessable National Priority List (NPL) sites.
Field assessment activities began yesterday. As of this afternoon, EPA assessment teams have conducted preliminary site assessments of 44 sites, with no issues identified. Teams will move into areas still experiencing flooding and road closures when conditions allow.
A list of assessed sites can be found here: here. This page will be updated as additional assessments are conducted.
EPA is also working with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to assess sites that are required to have a Facility Response Plan (FRP) in place because they store or use oil, including four inland sites and 11 sites along the coast. EPA has been in contact with two facilities inland, and mobilized teams today to conduct assessments of the two inland facilities that EPA has been unable to reach. USCG has visited seven of the 11 sites on the coast, and EPA is coordinating with USCG to assess the remaining four sites. To date, there have been no reported spills or substantial damage.
View prior EPA press releases on Hurricane Florence here.
EPA Response Actions
HEADQUARTERS EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER
- The EPA headquarters Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is fully activated.
- Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler continues to convene the EPA Policy Coordinating Committee (PCC) for coordination around the response.
REGIONAL OPERATIONS CENTERS
Region 4: The EPA Region 4 Regional Emergency Operations Center is activated. It is currently operating 12-hours daily. Region 4 has approximately 44 personnel currently involved in emergency response efforts.
- EPA Region 4 Administrator Trey Glenn remains in contact with Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina and is working with emergency response staff to determine regional assessment and response deployment activities.
- EPA Liaison Officers are deployed to the FEMA Regional Response Coordination Center.
- EPA Region 4's Regional Readiness Center has the Mobile Command Post, emergency response trailers, utility terrain vehicles, all-terrain vehicles, the breathing air trailer, communications equipment, air monitoring instruments, and field equipment ready for deployment .
North Carolina: The North Carolina State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) is currently operating at Level 1 (full activation).
- FEMA issued a Mission Assignment (MA) for Direct Federal Assistance (DFA) to EPA R4 on September 16 to provide ESF-10 assistance to North Carolina including, but not limited to facility assessment and oil and hazardous substance response.
- EPA is working with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to coordinate resources and prepare for joint field assessments. An EPA Incident Commander Reported to the SEOC on September 17 to prepare for activation of EPA assessment teams.
- EPA Region 4 received notification of a train derailment near Lilesville, North Carolina on September 16 and an unknown volume of diesel was released from the fuel tanks of the locomotives. The derailment reportedly occurred due to a washout of the railway as a result of Hurricane Florence. An EPA On-Scene Coordinator and Superfund Technical Assessment and Response Team consultants were deployed to assess the scene, ensure adequate response, provide air monitoring and other operational support, as needed. The diesel fuel accumulated in a low-lying area and did not reach the Pee Dee River. CSX contractors are on-scene and mitigating the spill.
- EPA is monitoring hog lagoons in storm-impacted areas and is coordinating with North Carolina, as needed, to assess impacts to downstream drinking water intakes due to possible releases. EPA On-Scene Coordinators and equipment stand ready to deploy, if needed.
- EPA is closely coordinating with North Carolina and coal ash impoundment operators to assess the status of any facilities impacted by the storm, and will provide assistance as needed or requested by the state.
- At the state's request, the EPA North Carolina out-posted On-Scene Coordinator began staffing the North Carolina SEOC ESF-10 desk on September 10.
- An EPA Water Division technical specialist at the North Carolina Emergency Operation Center is supporting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, North Carolina Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network and North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to monitor the status of North Carolina's wastewater treatment and drinking water systems.
South Carolina: The South Carolina EOC at OPCON 1 activation (Full ESF Activation -- 24-hour operations).
- At the state's request, the EPA South Carolina out-posted On-Scene Coordinator began staffing the South Carolina EOC ESF-10 desk on September 12.
- The state has made no further request for EPA assistance.
Georgia: The Georgia Emergency Management Agency is currently operating their State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) at Level 3(Actively Monitoring Operations). EPA Region 4 continues to maintain communication with the State to provide support at the ESF-10 Desk in the SEOC, as needed.
- EPA has not received a request for assistance from the state.
- EPA has waived the federal Reid vapor pressure requirements for fuel sold in designated areas in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia to minimize problems with the supply of gasoline. EPA has also waived in these same states the prohibition on the blending of reformulated gasoline blendstock for oxygenated blending with other gasoline blendstock or oxygenate. EPA intends these waivers to assist in distributing fuel needed for voluntary and mandatory evacuations. Additionally, EPA has waived the highway diesel fuel red dye requirements to allow the sale and use of non-road diesel fuel in highway vehicles in North Carolina.
- EPA has issued no action assurances as requested by North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia to help avoid delays in fuel distribution. EPA policy allows the Agency to issue no action assurances in cases where it is necessary to avoid extreme risks to public health and safety and where no other mechanism can adequately address the matter. Under these no action assurances, EPA will not pursue enforcement actions against tanker trucks under air quality regulations governing the testing for tank tightness and associated documentation.
- In addition, it is expected that damage from the storm and/or power outages could impact the vapor recovery systems at fuel loading facilities. To address this concern, EPA has issued two no action assurances as requested by Virginia and North Carolina regarding the loading and unloading of fuel at bulk gasoline terminals, pipeline breakout stations, marine tank vessel loading operations, and gasoline loading racks. Pursuant to these no action assurances and the conditions contained in them, EPA will not pursue enforcement actions for violations of the Clean Air Act vapor recovery requirements for these fuel loading and unloading operations in those states.
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