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EPA Releases Results From Gulf Water Sampling

Release Date: 10/21/2005
Contact Information:


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

(Washington, D.C.-Oct. 21, 2005) In ongoing efforts actively to provide information to the public about activities surrounding Hurricane Katrina recovery, today EPA announced the quality assured test results from water samples collected by the OSV Bold in the Gulf.

"Today's water sampling results are an important part of the large-scale, collaborative effort to monitor the hurricane's impact on water in the Gulf," said Benjamin H. Grumbles, assistant administrator for the Office of Water. "Our ship, the OSV Bold, is a floating laboratory that has been used in this cooperative response, providing a vehicle for shared testing and analysis."

EPA announced the first pathogen indicator data collected by the EPA vessel. This data was collected from Sept. 27 through Oct. 2, 2005 at monitoring stations in the river channels and nearshore waters surrounding the Mississippi Delta. The agency monitored 20 areas to determine whether fecal pollution from flooded communities had spread into these waters.

All 20 monitoring stations tested showed that at the time the water was appropriate for primary contact recreation--including swimming. While this is encouraging for recreational uses, this data should not be used to assess the safety of consuming raw or undercooked molluscan shellfish--such as oysters-- because accidental ingestion of water presents different risks than eating raw or undercooked shellfish.

The analyses performed aboard the OSV Bold tested for Enterococcus and Clostridium perfringens. Today's results are from Enterococcus only as the Clostridium analysis requires additional time. At four stations, Enterococcus was detected from 10 to 53.1 per 100 ml --- which is below the marine water standard of 500 per 100 ml and the freshwater standard of 151 per 100 ml.

EPA's initial assessment is now complete and sample analysis is currently proceeding as planned. Additional results of water, sediment and fish tissue analysis will be released as the data become available.

The OSV Bold is a scientific survey vessel 224 feet long and 43 feet wide that collects oceanographic data in waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. The Bold initiated monitoring and assessment surveys for EPA in August 2005 and will serve as the principal platform for this multi-agency effort to assess the near-shore environmental and human health impacts of Hurricane Katrina. The data being released today is available at: http://www.epa.gov/katrina/testresults/water/index.html#surface and information about EPA's survey vessel the Bold is available at: http://www.epa.gov/bold