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March 2019 precipitation resulted in flooding across the Midwest, including all four states that comprise EPA Region 7. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was in immediate contact with all four states affected by the flood to offer assistance and hear what they foresaw as their most critical issues. In Iowa, flooding was prevalent on the western side of the state, along the Missouri River and its tributaries. In particular, the Missouri River floodplain south of Council Bluffs to the Iowa/Missouri state line was heavily impacted by the flooding.
Since the onset of flooding, EPA officials have been coordinating with the State of Iowa response community and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide information and resources regarding oil and hazardous materials potentially impacted by floodwaters. On March 27, 2019, an EPA On-Scene Coordinator (OSC) and an EPA contractor deployed to the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) to join Unified Command and to support the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). Other coordinating agencies involved in the response include Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT). EPA has been mission assigned under Emergency Support Function (ESF) #10 to identify and recover orphaned containers and respond to releases of oil and hazardous materials as a result of the flood. These necessary emergency protective measures are being conducted to mitigate actual and potential threats to public health and safety.
Land-based reconnaissance and field operations commenced on March 29, 2019. Initial priorities, identified in coordination with the State of Iowa, were to recover orphaned containers along priority transportation right of ways. Other priorities were the recovery of orphaned containers from levees, waterways, and drainage's within the flood-impacted area, as well as from public/private lands where orphaned containers have been reported. Recovered containers are being temporarily staged to await characterization for proper reuse, recycling, or disposal.
Other EPA activities conducted as a result of the flooding are described below. EPA Region 7 reviewed all the National Priorities List (NPL) sites that are located within the the flood-impacted area and determined none of them are cause for health or environmental concern, as a result of the flooding. EPA Region 7 also reviewed the status of more than 600 sites that were part of EPA and the state's hazardous materials compliance and management programs. Additionally, EPA Region 7 Division of Water staff reached out to all the drinking water and wastewater facilities to determine their operating status and offer assistance.