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EPA New England Sends Team to Assist Texas Emergency Response Efforts

Release Date: 02/01/2003
Contact Information: Alice Kaufman, EPA Community Involvement Office, 617-918-1064

Boston - In response to the Saturday's devastating loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia, EPA New England today sent a team of engineers to Houston, Texas, to join the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in assisting response operations in searching and recovering shuttle debris and conducting environmental monitoring.

EPA New England sent a highly trained emergency response team of four responders, called on-scene coordinators, to assist in the recovery of shuttle debris and analyses to help ensure that the debris from the shuttle does not pose an environmental hazard to the recovery workers or nearby residents.

Leaving from Boston are: Ed Gilbert of Framingham, MA; Elise Jakabhazy of Providence, RI; Dan Wainberg of Jamaica Plain, MA; and Mia Pasquerella of Providence, RI .

"We are adding our regional expertise to the front lines to monitor environmental conditions in the areas where debris has fallen and to clean up hazardous materials," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA New England. "Let us all keep the crew of the Columbia and their families in our thoughts as we work to recover from this terrible tragedy."

EPA plans to have 60 teams from around the country working in Texas within the next few days. EPA will use its aircraft equipped with infrared sensors to help locate debris and use its dive team capabilities to search lakes and ponds where material may have fallen.

NASA has asked that anyone who believes they have found debris should call the Johnson Space Center Emergency Operations Center at (281) 483-3388, and should be aware that hazardous chemicals may be present, and they should not disturb or remove any debris.