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EPA to Conduct Limited Floodwater Sampling at the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway

Release Date: 05/24/2011
Contact Information: David Bryan, 913-551-7213, bryan.david@epa.gov

Environmental News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Kansas City, Kan., May 24, 2011) - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 crews will conduct limited floodwater sampling today at the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway.

The surface water sampling will be conducted at locations where floodwater is present, to determine if any threats are presented to emergency response workers who may be in contact with the potentially contaminated water.

“Public health and the health of emergency responders is a critical issue in the flood response. It is very important that the emergency responders know what hazards may be in the floodwater,” said Karl Brooks, Region 7 Administrator. “Once we have determined what contaminants, if any, are in the floodwater, the emergency responders will be able to take appropriate precautions to protect their health.”

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and the U.S. Geological Survey are responsible for water quality sampling.

EPA will conduct surface sampling to identify the potential presence of contamination in the floodwater. These sampling results will aid in identifying potential risk to people and resources for contact with floodwater that may be contaminated with hazardous materials released during the flood. The surface water samples will be analyzed for organophosphorus pesticides, triazine herbicides, total metals including aluminum, perchlorate, total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH)-gasoline range organics (GRO), TPH-diesel range organics (DRO) and coliform bacteria.

EPA established the limited floodway sampling plan based on chemicals from explosives used to activate the floodway, the rural agricultural characteristics of the area, the presence of a confined animal feeding operation, and information that not all petroleum products were removed from the floodway.

Water sampling is planned at the entrance to the floodway, the two exits from the floodway, and water inside the floodway. EPA has closely coordinated environmental efforts with Missouri and federal emergency response and environmental agencies since mid-April.

EPA involvement in the floodway began in mid-April when the Agency assisted MDNR and bulk fuel suppliers to contact farm residents in the floodway and remove threatened petroleum and small amounts of hazardous materials, prior to opening the floodway.