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362 Louisiana School Labs Get Help from Environmental Responders

Release Date: 03/10/2006
Contact Information: Cynthia Fanning, (504) 731-8680, fanning.cynthia@epa.gov or Darin Mann, (225) 219-0860, darin.mann@la.gov

(Metairie, La. - March 10, 2006) Environmental responders have completed assessments of potentially hazardous chemicals at 362 school chemistry and biology laboratories in southern Louisiana damaged by Hurricanes Katrina or Rita. Responders from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, with the assistance of environmental cleanup contractors, safely removed chemicals from more than 100 schools.

“It’s great to see these school laboratories put back into service,” said school assessment group supervisor Walter Nied. “I’m glad that EPA and DEQ were able to help Louisiana schools recover faster.”

School laboratories generally contain chemicals used for experiments, including reactive metals, strong acids and bases, and solvents. Damaged containers may leak, exposing teachers and students to the chemicals and potentially causing reactions between incompatible materials.

The EPA, DEQ and U.S. Coast Guard are working together in a Unified Command to address hazardous materials under an interagency agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Unified Command has disposed more than 11 million pounds of waste, collected more than 2.3 million containers, extracted Freon from more than 286,000 white goods (such as refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners) and collected more than 336,000 pieces of electronic waste (such as TVs, computers and microwaves). Recovered materials from these operations are recycled to the extent possible.
For more information about the hurricane response efforts, please visit http://www.epa.gov/katrina/ or http://www.deq.louisiana.gov/.

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