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As Hurricane Season Begins, EPA Reminds Local Facilities to Be Prepared

Release Date: 06/13/2006
Contact Information: Ben Barry, (212) 637-3651, barry.benjamin@epa.gov

(New York, NY) – In anticipation of this year’s hurricane season, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working with local facilities to prepare for the worst. Based on lessons learned from last year’s dramatic hurricane season that impacted the Gulf Coast and New Orleans, EPA has distributed information to owners and operators of facilities that use hazardous chemicals. This information is intended to help them avoid an accidental release caused by a hurricane or other severe weather.

“People around the country saw the devastation that Hurricane Katrina inflicted on our country last year,” said Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. “Facilities need to be prepared for the worst in order to avoid the release of hazardous substances into the environment.”

Facilities that use potentially hazardous chemicals are required to be prepared for severe weather conditions to avoid accidental releases. In 1999, EPA issued and settled complaints for a total of $168,000 in fines against four facilities in Puerto Rico for their failure to take appropriate action before and during the 1998 Hurricane Georges. The cases included a 16,000-gallon spill of fuel oil, a 1,700-gallon caustic soda spill, the loss of nearly 50 drums containing hazardous substances, and the loss of a 2,000-pound chlorine cylinder. In each case, there was a failure to report the incidents in a timely manner to the appropriate authorities. EPA also found examples of environmental damage and unsafe operations, such as the failure to maintain an accurate inventory before the event, failure to obtain a reliable inventory after the event, and failure to ensure correct operation of a secondary containment dike.

For more information on hurricane preparedness: epa.gov/naturalevents/hurricanes/index.html