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EPA's Preparation for Hurricane Rita

Release Date: 09/23/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: Eryn Witcher, 202-564-4355 / witcher.eryn@epa.gov

(Washington, D.C.-Sept. 23, 2005) EPA is working closely with the state of Texas to prepare for Hurricane Rita.

Pre-deployed EPA Personnel
EPA has pre-deployed three EPA response personnel and four contractors to the Regional Response Coordination Center in Austin, Texas. The pre-deployment team is co-located with other federal and state personnel to coordinate planning for Hurricane Rita response priorities.

EPA Incident Management Team
A full EPA Incident Management Team consisting of 18 EPA personnel will stage in Dallas, Texas, on Saturday, Sept. 24. The team will deploy to the impacted area as soon as the storm passes (anticipated to be Monday, Sept. 26). Additional response and contract personnel are standing by and will be brought to the scene once an initial needs assessment is complete.

Chemical and Petroleum Facilities
The Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and EPA have been contacting chemical and refinery industry along the hurricane's path concerning their plans to secure and shut-down their plants. The Risk Management Program (RMP) under the Clean Air Act requires facilities to develop an emergency plan and coordinate their activities with local officials.

Additional measures are being taken to prepare for response actions at chemical and petroleum facilities. EPA is currently mapping the facilities and sites expected to be impacted by Hurricane Rita. These maps will be used to conduct a Rapid Needs Assessment that will be conducted shortly after the storm passes. EPA has also listed these facilities in the Agency's Rapid Assessment Integrated Database (RAID) which prioritizes targets for the reconnaissance phase of the response. Chemical products stored at the larger facilities to assist responders are also being identified.

Superfund Sites
EPA is currently mapping Superfund hazardous waste sites expected to be impacted by Hurricane Rita. Teams of project managers are prepared to deploy to affected Superfund hazardous waste sites as soon as the storm passes (anticipated to be Monday, Sept. 26). These teams will conduct thorough assessments and, if assessed necessary, they will also sample the sites to determine any impact.

Hurricane-Related Fuel Waivers
In the continued effort to minimize potential fuel supply disruptions caused by Hurricane's Rita and Katrina, on Sept. 22 EPA expanded the waiver to allow conventional gasoline (CG) to be sold and distributed in the Houston-Galveston reformulated gasoline (RFG) covered area to cover the Dallas-Fort Worth RFG area through midnight on Sept. 30. In a related action, EPA granted a third waiver to extend the Sept. 9 waiver to allow regulated parties to distribute and sell CG in the Richmond, Va., RFG covered area through midnight on Sept. 30. Retail outlets and wholesale purchaser-consumers will be allowed to continue selling or dispensing this fuel after Sept. 30, until their supplies are depleted. EPA and the Department of Energy will continue to monitor the situation closely and work with state and local governments to evaluate and respond to changing circumstances. More information on hurricane-related fuel waivers is currently available online at: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/katrina/waiver/index.html

General information about hurricane preparation and recovery is at: http://www.epa.gov/naturalevents/hurricanes.html Information about EPA's response to Hurricane Katrina is at: http://www.epa.gov/katrina