Cleanup after Hurricane Katrina: Environmental Considerations

CRS Report for Congress
Cleanup After Hurricane Katrina:
Environmental Considerations
Updated May 3, 2006
Robert Esworthy, Linda-Jo Schierow,
Claudia Copeland, Linda Luther, and Jonathan L. Ramseur
Resources, Science, and Industry Division

Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress

Cleanup after Hurricane Katrina:
Environmental Considerations
Local, state, and federal responders face numerous cleanup challenges
associated with Hurricane Katrina. In Mississippi, Alabama, and parts of Louisiana,
much of the focus has been on restoring infrastructure and managing debris and
waste. In New Orleans, where most damage was due to floodwaters, the immediate
tasks were “unwatering” and evaluation of potential risks from contaminated water,
sediment, and air. As floodwaters receded, debris management and infrastructure
repair began. Monitoring and analysis of air, water, and residual sediment and soil
continues to inform decisions about whether neighborhoods are safe for returning
residents. Local authorities, with assistance from federal agencies, have worked to
determine how and where disaster-related wastes would be gathered, separated, and
disposed. This report provides an overview of the immediate and intermediate
cleanup tasks and the federal role supporting these tasks.
State, county, and local municipalities have jurisdiction with regard to cleanup
after any natural catastrophe. However, because the President issued a major disaster
declaration, at the governors’ requests, under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief
and Emergency Assistance Act in response to Hurricane Katrina, federal agencies
have been broadly authorized to provide assistance. Federal cleanup assistance
efforts are being coordinated by the Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps), the U.S.
Coast Guard, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Corps has
coordinated unwatering of New Orleans, assessment and repair of water and
wastewater systems, and nonhazardous debris removal, in conjunction with other
emergency response activities, such as filling levee breaches. EPA and the U.S.
Coast Guard have primary responsibility for assessing and managing releases of oil
and other hazardous substances. EPA is also overseeing the collection and disposal
of electronic wastes (e.g., computers and televisions) and household hazardous
wastes (e.g., household cleaners, pesticides). Many other federal agencies have also
been contributing various expertise and assistance to the cleanup effort.
The greatest portion of Katrina-related disaster debris was generated in coastal
Mississippi and Louisiana. Removal of that debris and waste continues to be a major
concern. The sheer volume of the debris and scope of the destruction, together with
the inability of a significant percentage of the affected residents to return to their
homes to address potential demolition and debris removal decisions, ensures that the
debris removal process will continue for many months to come.
Throughout the Katrina-affected region, drinking water and sewage treatment
plants were damaged. Most are operating again now; however, many require
substantial repair or reconstruction, which will likely take many months. In New
Orleans, some Katrina-generated waste was contaminated, making the potential for
toxic chemical exposure of returning residents a significant concern. Sampling
results of residue sediments and air have indicated some sediment contamination
with bacteria and chemicals. Possible health risks from contact with deposited
sediment, or with contaminants in dust as the sediments dry, remain a concern. Mold
is another issue of concern. This report will not be updated.

In troduction ......................................................1
Federal Disaster Cleanup Response Authorities and Activities...............3
General Disaster Management Authorities..........................4
Disaster Cleanup Response and Waste Management Tasks.................7
Debris Management............................................7
The Volume and Type of Disaster Debris.......................7
Laws Governing Debris Removal.............................8
Debris Removal Responsibilities.............................10
Releases of Oil and Hazardous Substances.........................11
Oil Releases.............................................12
Hazardous Substance Releases..............................13
Previously Contaminated Sites (Superfund)........................14
Contaminated Floodwaters in New Orleans........................16
Assessing Floodwaters.....................................17
Post-Katrina Environmental Sampling and Monitoring...............18
Contaminated Sediment and Structures........................18
Air Quality, Mold, and Vector Concerns.......................20
Water Discharged into Lake Pontchartrain.....................22
Coastal Water Impacts.....................................24
Impacts on Drinking Water Sources..........................24
Water Infrastructure Facilities in the Affected Region................25
Potential Challenges and Issues......................................27
Appendix 1......................................................29
List of Figures
Figure 1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Superfund National
Priority List (NPL) Sites in Areas Affected by Hurricane Katrina:
Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi.............................15
List of Tables
Table 1. Federal Department/Agency Cleanup Functions and
Responsibilities as Indicated in the Emergency Support
Functions of the National Response Plan (NRP).....................29

Cleanup after Hurricane Katrina:
Environmental Considerations
Local, state, and federal responders face numerous cleanup challenges
associated with the effects of Hurricane Katrina,1 many of them unique, due to the
magnitude of events and specific features of communities affected. The immediate
need was to clear debris and control releases of hazardous substances that might have
posed a health and safety threat or hampered emergency response activities.
Subsequently, authorities initiated efforts to determine how and where the huge
quantities of Hurricane Katrina-related waste and debris (hazardous and
nonhazardous), would be gathered, separated, and ultimately disposed.
The 109th Congress has been working to address the devastation wrought by
Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf States, which is on a scale larger than any experienced
by the United States in a single natural disaster incident. In addition to supplemental2
funding, a number of legislative proposals regarding procedures and requirements
for the response and recovery from “super catastrophes” are being debated and
considered. This report aims to provide an overview of environmental considerations
raised by the immediate and intermediate cleanup tasks across the diverse
communities in the affected region, and of federal legal authorities and plans for
tackling those tasks. The report also discusses coordinated roles and activities among
local, state, and federal agencies and officials. Finally, the report serves to reference
other, more detailed CRS reports and other sources on particular Katrina cleanup
activities. Public health and environmental concerns associated with Hurricane
Katrina span a wide variety of issues, including air and water quality and hazardous
chemical releases. Katrina’s impacts also have environmental implications for other
major issue areas, such as energy, transportation, and defense. While this report
addresses selected cleanup concerns receiving post-Katrina attention, it is not

1 Unless otherwise noted, the discussion in the remainder of this report addresses
environmental impacts and cleanup from Hurricane Katrina only. While other hurricane
events in 2005 struck the breadth of the Gulf Coast and caused significant damage
(including some of the same locations damaged by Katrina), the brunt of the
hurricane-related damage in the region resulted from Hurricane Katrina, which thus has been
at the center of the public’s and policymakers’ attention.
2 The 109th Congress enacted two FY2005 emergency supplemental appropriations bills
(P.L. 109-61 and P.L. 109-62) which appropriated $62.3 billion for immediate relief and
response needs. An additional request of $19.8 billion in supplemental FY2006 funding for
recovery assistance submitted by the Administration on Feb. 16, 2006, is pending before
Congress. See CRS Report RS22239, Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for
Hurricane Katrina Relief, by Keith Bea.

intended to provide comprehensive coverage of all public health and environmental
issues associated with Hurricane Katrina, nor is it within the scope of this report to
analyze ongoing legislative and appropriations considerations related to the hurricane
disaster response efforts.
There are many elements and phases of cleanup in response to natural disasters.
Elements of cleanup often undertaken during the initial and intermediate phases
following a disaster include the following:
!activation of state, local, and federal disaster response plans and
delegation of authorities;
!debris removal, including collection, separation (of nonhazardous
and hazardous materials), storage, transport, and disposal (e.g.,
landfilling, burning) or reclamation (e.g., recycling or reuse) of
debris and hazardous wastes;
!oil (and oil by-products) and hazardous materials assessment,
containment, and disposal, as well as mitigation of public health
!assessment and containment of existing Superfund sites;
!unwatering of nonreceding floodwaters and managing potentially
contaminated soil and sediment;
!cleanup and repair of water and other infrastructure systems;
!monitoring, sampling, and analysis to identify and reduce potential
public health and environmental risks.
These tasks and the federal government’s role are the primary focus of this report.
In response to the impacts of Hurricane Katrina, a joint task force of the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) issued an initial assessment of the environmental health and
supporting infrastructure challenges facing one part of the affected region, New
Orleans. The September 2005 EPA/CDC report set the tone for the broader scope
of response actions required in that city and throughout the region affected by
Hurricane Katrina by observing, “The most striking feature of the disaster is the array
of key environmental health and infrastructure factors affected all at once.”3

3 The joint task force identified several specific environmental health issues and supporting
infrastructure concerns to address, categorizing them according to time (short-term and
long-term) and complexity. Joint Taskforce Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Environmental Health Needs and Habitability
Assessment,” Sept. 17, 2005. Online at [

Federal Disaster Cleanup Response
Authorities and Activities
States, counties, and local municipalities have primary jurisdiction with regard
to natural catastrophe cleanup. To the extent they are capable, these entities initiate
cleanup activities operating under their own statutes4 and their various emergency
operation and/or incident response plans, often in coordination with various federal
agencies, as needed.5 However, in the event that state and local governments are
overwhelmed by a natural hazard, the President, at the request of the governor, may
issue a major disaster declaration under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and
Emergency Assistance Act (the Stafford Act) and invoke federal authorities,6 as
occurred in response to Hurricane Katrina.
A major disaster declaration in response to a governor’s request generally
specifies, among other things, the type of incident covered, the time periods covered
for specific activities,7 the types of disaster assistance available, and the counties
affected by the declaration. The Stafford Act broadly authorizes the President to
direct federal agencies to provide “essential assistance” as needed, including cleanup
and disposal of waste and debris.8 Although this declaration initiates the federal

4 For an overview of emergency management and homeland security statutes in the 50 states
and the District of Columbia see CRS Report RL32287, Emergency Management and
Homeland Security Statutory Authorities in the States, District of Columbia, and Insular
Areas: A Summary, by Ronald O’Rourke. That summary report is supported by companion
reports on each state, the District of Columbia, and the insular areas. See profiles for
Louisiana (CRS Report RL32678); Mississippi (CRS Report RL32316); and Alabama (CRS
Report RS21777). These three reports are all authored by Keith Bea, L. Cheryl Runyon,
Kae M. Warnock.
5 For example see “State of Louisiana, Office of Homeland Security and Emergency
Preparedness Emergency Operation Plan,” Apr. 2005, at [
plans/eopindex.htm] .
6 42 U.S.C. 5121 et seq. See CRS Report RL33090, Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and
Emergency Assistance Act: Legal Requirements for Federal and State Roles in Declarations
of an Emergency or a Major Disaster, by Elizabeth B. Bazan; and CRS Report RL33053,
Federal Stafford Act Disaster Assistance: Presidential Declarations, Eligible Activities, and
Funding, by Keith Bea.
7 FEMA, 2005 Federal Disaster Declarations, available at [
8 Sec. 403 (a) of the Stafford Act (42 U.S.C. §5170(b)(a)) authorizes “assistance essential
to meeting immediate threats to life and property resulting from a major disaster.” This is
defined to include “any work or services essential to saving lives and protecting and
preserving property or public health and safety,” including debris removal; search and
rescue; emergency medical care; emergency shelter and transport; provision of food, water,
medicine, and other essential needs; clearance of roads and construction of temporary
bridges; provision of temporary facilities for schools; demolition of unsafe structures;
warning of further risks and hazards; dissemination of public information; provision of
technical advice to state and local governments; and reduction of immediate threats. Sec.
407 of the Stafford Act, 42 U.S.S. 5173. Note that debris removal grants authorized by

response coordination and support activities, state and local governments maintain
primary jurisdiction, particularly with regard to cleanup.
The following section briefly describes the Stafford Act, the December 2004
National Response Plan (NRP),9 and presidential directives that provide general
authority and direction to federal agencies responding to incidents of national
significance. For a complete listing of statutory, Homeland Security Presidential
Directives (HSPDs), and other authorities for agency actions in response to an
incident of national significance, see Appendix 3 of the National Response Plan.
General Disaster Management Authorities
The Stafford Act authorizes the President “to establish a program of disaster
preparedness that utilizes services of all appropriate agencies,” ... “direct any Federal
agency, with or without reimbursement, to utilize its authorities and the resources
granted to it under Federal law (including personnel, equipment, supplies, facilities,
and managerial, technical, and advisory services) in support of State and local
assistance efforts;” coordinate provision of “technical and advisory assistance” to
states and communities; and assist in distributing supplies and emergency
assistance.10 Congress appropriates money to the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) to
ensure that such federal assistance is available to help individuals and communities
stricken by severe disasters.11 Presidents have delegated responsibility for
administering the major provisions of the Stafford Act to the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) through executive orders since 1979.12
The Homeland Security Act created the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) and incorporated FEMA within the new department. Section 502(6) of the
Homeland Security Act directs the DHS Under Secretary of Emergency Preparedness
and Response to consolidate federal emergency response plans into “a single,
coordinated national response plan.” FEMA coordinates disaster assistance provided
by 27 federal agencies as outlined in the NRP. The NRP establishes a comprehensive
all-hazards approach to federal interventions, and a framework to coordinate
activities of the federal government with those of state, local, and tribal governments

8 (...continued)
Section 407 are provided to states and are separate from the Category A debris removal
“Public Assistance” authorized by Section 403.
9 Section 502(6) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-296). The current NRP
was finalized in December 2004 and may be viewed or downloaded from
[ tlibrary/NRP_FullT ext.pdf].
10 42 U.S.C. §§ 5131, 5170(a).
11 Funds appropriated to the DRF remain available until expended. Supplemental
appropriations acts generally are required to meet the urgent needs of particularly
catastrophic disasters, as has been the case with Hurricane Katrina.
12 Primarily President Jimmy Carter, “Federal Emergency Management” (E.O. 12148, July

20, 1979), as amended, and President George W. Bush, “Amendment of Executive Orders,

and Other Actions, in Connection with the Transfer of Certain Functions to the Secretary
of Homeland Security (E.O. 13286, Sec. 52, Feb. 28, 2003).

and the private sector. The plan establishes the coordinating structures, processes,
and protocols required to integrate the specific statutory and policy authorities of
various federal departments and agencies. As with the Stafford Act, the President has
designated FEMA as the implementing agency for the NRP. While the NRP is the
core plan for managing domestic incidents and coordinating federal actions, other
supplemental agency and interagency plans provide details on authorities, response
protocols, and technical guidance for responding to and managing specific
contingency situations (such as hazardous materials spills, wildfires, etc.).13
The NRP is organized functionally by 15 Emergency Support Functions (ESFs).
Under these ESFs, federal departments and agencies (and the American Red Cross14)
are grouped according to their capabilities and assigned various tasks. Each ESF has
a designated coordinator, primary agency(ies), and a number of support agencies,
which together are responsible for planning, supporting, providing resources,
implementing programs, and providing emergency services related to their respective
tasks to state, local, and tribal governments. When the President declares a major
disaster or emergency, DHS/FEMA “activates” and assigns missions to relevant
ESFs as deemed necessary.
The ESFs primarily addressing cleanup activities are ESF #3-Public Works and
Engineering, and ESF #10-Oil and Hazardous Materials Response.15 The primary
focus of ESF #3 is infrastructure protection and emergency repair, infrastructure
restoration, engineering services, construction management, and critical infrastructure
liaison. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) is designated the coordinator
of ESF #3 missions and shares with FEMA the responsibilities of being a primary
agency. The primary focus of ESF #10 is oil and hazardous materials (chemical,
biological, radiological, etc.) response and environmental safety, and short- and
long-term cleanup. EPA is the designated coordinator, as well as a designated
primary agency for ESF #10. The U.S. Coast Guard (the Coast Guard) is the other
primary agency responsible for ESF #10 missions. ESF #8-Public Health and
Medical Services Annex, also includes certain activities related to cleanup in
coordination with ESF #3 and ESF #10.16 ESF #8 is coordinated by the Secretary of

13 NRP, 2004, p. 16, []. See
CRS Report RL32803, The National Preparedness System: Issues in the 109th Congress,
by Keith Bea.
14 Congressional Charter of 1905, 36 U.S.C. §§ 300101-300111 (2002), mandates that the
American Red Cross maintain a system of domestic and international disaster relief. Under
the NRP, the American Red Cross functions as an Emergency Support Function (ESF)
primary organization in coordinating the use of mass care resources in a presidentially
declared disaster or emergency (ESF #6).
15 See the Emergency Support Function (ESF) Annexes to the National Response Plan at
[ tlibrary/NRP_FullT ext.pdf].
16 “HHS, in coordination with ESF #3 and ESF #10 as appropriate, may task its components,
and request assistance from other ESF #8 organizations as appropriate, to assist in assessing
potable water, wastewater, solid waste disposal issues, and other environmental health
issues; conducting field investigations, including collection and laboratory analysis of
relevant samples; providing water purification and wastewater/solid waste disposal

the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), principally through the
Assistant Secretary for Public Health and Emergency Preparedness (ASPHEP).
Following Hurricane Katrina, multiagency task forces of environmental
response experts, including representatives from virtually all federal agencies, were
deployed throughout the Gulf region. In addition to those agencies with primary or
coordination responsibilities, such as the Corps, the Coast Guard, and EPA, key
agencies represented include the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service (Department of the Interior), Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) (Department of Health and Human Services), and National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Department of Commerce). These and
other federal agencies have been working in cooperation with Louisiana, Alabama,
Mississippi and Florida municipalities and state agencies, to address countless
cleanup issues. Table 1 in Appendix 1 briefly outlines roles and activities that
federal agencies often undertake related to disaster cleanup under the NRP.
Several Homeland Security Presidential Directives (HSPDs) also shape the
federal cleanup role after natural catastrophes such as Hurricane Katrina, including
HSPD-5 (Management of Domestic Incidents) and HSPD-8 (National
Preparedness).17 Generally, these directives have been issued to clarify
responsibilities of various governmental agencies when a catastrophe occurs.
Executive orders and presidential directives do not alter statutory authority.
Cleanup activities undertaken by federal agencies, and state and local
governments or contractors under their jurisdiction, generally must comply with
federal laws, including environmental laws, as well as state and local statutes and
ordinances. Individual statutes offer varying flexibility by authorizing enforcement
discretion. Temporary or emergency exemptions or waivers under certain statutes
allow limited relief from certain requirements. For a more detailed discussion see
CRS Report RL33107, Emergency Waiver of EPA Regulations: Authorities and
Legislative Proposals in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, by James E. McCarthy
and Claudia Copeland; and CRS Report RL33104, NEPA and Hurricane Response,
Recovery, and Rebuilding Efforts, by Linda Luther.
The remainder of this report provides an overview of some of the elements of
immediate and intermediate disaster cleanup, including roles of primary federal
agencies and references to relevant statutes and other authorities.

16 (...continued)
equipment and supplies; and providing technical assistance and consultation on potable
water and wastewater/solid waste disposal issues,” Dec. 2004 NRP, Annex, p. ESF #8-6.
[ tlibrary/NRP_FullT ext.pdf].
17 The Department of Homeland Security has these directives on its website at
[] and [
news/releases/2003/12/text/20031217-6.html ].

Disaster Cleanup Response and
Waste Management Tasks
Debris Management
Disaster debris is a highly visible reminder of the scope of a disaster, and debris
management accounts for as much as 40% of all disaster-related costs.18 The level
of destruction to homes, businesses, industries (e.g., oil refining and chemical
manufacturing), public utilities and structures, and vegetation after Hurricane Katrina
is unprecedented in the United States. Proper management of this disaster debris
continues to be an important step in protecting public health and safety and the
environment, and in recovery and rebuilding efforts in affected areas.
The Volume and Type of Disaster Debris. The greatest debris-generating
natural disaster to occur in the United States before Hurricane Katrina was in 1992,
when Hurricane Andrew generated 43 million cubic yards (CY) of debris in Florida’s
Metro-Dade County.19 When the entire debris removal process is complete, disaster
debris generated as a result of Hurricane Katrina will be more than twice that amount.
The Corps estimates that debris for Louisiana alone is 46 million CY. This estimate
does not include the construction and demolition debris that will be generated when
the demolition of private properties begins (estimated at 12.5 million CY) or the
nearly 650,000 “white goods” (e.g., refrigerators, freezers) collected in the state.
Approximately 70% of the debris in Louisiana, not including demolition debris in
New Orleans, has been collected to date. Debris in Mississippi is estimated to be
approximately 46 million CY (approximately 90% of which has been collected).
Debris in Alabama was approximately 2 million CY (collection there is complete).
The primary types of disaster debris being removed in the wake of Hurricane
Katrina fall into the following categories:
!Municipal solid waste — general household trash.
!Construction and demolition (C&D) debris — building materials
(which may include asbestos-containing materials), drywall, lumber,
carpet, furniture, mattresses, plumbing.
!Vegetative debris — trees, branches, shrubs, and logs.
!Household hazardous waste — oil, pesticides, paints, cleaning
!White goods — refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers, stoves, water
heaters, dishwashers, air conditioners.
!Electronic waste — computers, televisions, printers, stereos, DVD
players, telephones.

18 “Disaster Debris Planning,” materials presented by FEMA at EPA’s Aug. 2003 “RCRA
National Meeting,” see [].
19 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Planning for Disaster Debris, available online
at [].

Initially, debris activities primarily involved removal from public land or rights
of way (such as roads or canals). Most ongoing debris removal activities involve
waste on private property. In such cases, the removal process generally entails
collecting waste that has been left at the curbside of a private property,20 hauling the
waste to a staging area to segregate materials (when the different types of waste are
not separated by the individual leaving it curbside), and hauling the waste to a
landfill, reclamation facility (i.e., a site where it will be recycled or reused in some
manner), or burning site.21 Debris is currently being separated with metals recycled;
white goods and electronic wastes having hazardous components removed, then
recycled; clean vegetative debris mulched and used for landfill cover in most areas,
and some vegetative debris burned; and construction and demolition debris going to
approved landfills. Of the debris collected so far in all areas, no comprehensive data
are available delineating the percentage of debris that has been landfilled, burned, or
Besides the tremendous volume of debris, another complicating factor in the
debris removal process has been the scope of Katrina’s destruction. Most natural
disasters in the United States have involved destruction over a relatively small area
(e.g., 500 square miles for Hurricane Andrew). Typically, residents evacuate the area
during an emergency and return afterward to assist with the cleanup (e.g., remove
debris from their property and leave it for curbside pickup). The declared disaster
area for Hurricane Katrina covered 90,000 square miles and included a major
metropolitan area (New Orleans) and the entire coast of Mississippi. The destruction
to homes and infrastructure was so great that many residents have been unable to
return, meaning that a substantial amount of debris on private property has yet to be
Laws Governing Debris Removal. Most of the debris generated as a result
of Hurricane Katrina must be managed in accordance with certain provisions of the
federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)22 and the Clean Air Act.23
RCRA applies to the management of solid and hazardous waste. Solid waste is
defined broadly under the law as “any garbage, refuse ... and other discarded

20 Waste collectors/haulers are prohibited by law from entering private property to remove
debris unless that debris poses an imminent threat to public health or safety. For more
information, see FEMA press release “Mississippi Debris Cleanup Continues At 100 Percent
Federal Funding,” Mar. 14, 2006, Release Number: 1604-285, available online at
[ h t t p : / / www.f e ma .gov/ n ews/ newsr e l e ase.f e ma ?i d=24218] .
21 Most states, including Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, prohibit open burning as a
means of waste disposal. That prohibition does not apply to disposal of debris from
emergency cleanup operations. In the past, debris from major disasters was most often
buried or burned in the community (much of the Katrina-generated debris that was handled
in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane was burned). Burning is a limited option,
however, since only “clean” (i.e., uncontaminated) debris can be burned. Also, citizens do
not want to inhale the smoke from open burning. Further, even if the smoke from burning
operations is controlled, it is not an option for waste containing hazardous constituents (e.g.,
contaminated structures and their contents in New Orleans or asbestos-containing wastes).
22 42 U.S.C. § 6901-6991k.
23 42 U.S.C. § 7401-7671.

material.” Hazardous waste, a subset of solid waste, is defined as a solid waste that
is either specifically listed in regulations or meets specific criteria that make it toxic,
ignitable (i.e., burns readily), corrosive, or reactive (e.g., explosive). Solid wastes
that are not reused or recycled are generally sent to state-permitted landfills;
hazardous wastes are required to be sent to specially constructed hazardous waste
landfills. Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama are authorized by EPA to implement
RCRA’s provisions.
RCRA requires states to adopt and implement permit programs to ensure that
landfills in their states comply with relevant federal standards. In addition to
disposal requirements, RCRA authorizes states implementing their own RCRA
programs to set environmental standards applicable to municipal solid waste landfills
that are at least as stringent or more than federal requirements. The law requires EPA
to determine whether state permit programs are adequate to ensure compliance.24
With regard to the Clean Air Act, Section 112 of the law requires the
establishment of national emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants
(NESHAP), including asbestos. Individual states and the Corps, in coordination with
EPA, must manage asbestos-containing debris in compliance with the asbestos
NESHAP when removing and disposing of asbestos during building destruction and
renovation.25 Both Mississippi and Louisiana have authority for their asbestos
programs and have published protocols for complying with their own state-
implemented version of the asbestos NESHAP.26 EPA is working closely with them
and is providing debris management guidance to ensure minimization of exposures
while expediting cleanup. For example, EPA has advised states to make efforts to
segregate asbestos and certain other types of waste for proper disposal in landfills
prior to burning the debris.27

24 An issue related to landfill permitting that has generated some controversy in Louisiana
has been the reopening of the previously closed Old Gentilly Landfill. This report does not
address issues associated with the reopening of the Gentilly Landfill. For background,
current information, and a discussion of issues associated with the Old Gentilly Landfill, see
the Louisiana DEQ website [].
In particular, see the memorandum from George Pavlou, Senior Federal Official, New
Orleans Field Office, EPA to John Connolly, Infrastructure Branch Chief, FEMA, regarding
“Potential Federal CERCLA Liability for use of the Gentilly Landfill for debris operations
from Hurricane Katrina, FEMA-1603-DR-LA, ESF #10 Task Order,” Nov. 11, 2005.
25 40 CFR §§61.140-61.160.
26 See Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) “Policy for Handling
Demolitions of Structures to Address Potential Asbestos,” Jan. 3, 2006; Louisiana
Department of Environmental Quality, “LDEQ Protocol to Comply with the LESHAP
Regulations,” Mar. 16, 2006 available online at [
portal/Default.aspx?tabid=2251]; and the Feb. 24, 2006, letter from Granta Nakayama, EPA
Assistant Administrator, Office of Enforcement and Compliance, to Mike McDaniel,
Secretary, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality specifying EPA’s agreement
with the Department of Environmental Quality with regard to “Asbestos Issues in
Hurricane-affected Areas,” available online at [].
27 U.S. EPA, Hurricane Katrina Response, Frequent questions, “Asbestos,” available online

Mississippi and Louisiana had disaster debris management plans that were
updated after Hurricane Katrina to reflect requirements applicable to the disaster.28
Among other criteria, those plans delineate the types of disaster debris to be handled
under the specified emergency conditions and existing laws that apply to the handling
and disposal of different types of waste (i.e., hazardous waste, nonhazardous waste,
asbestos-containing materials). The plans also specify requirements regarding the
selection of debris storage and staging sites and waste handling methods (e.g.,
chipping/grinding, burning, or landfilling) for certain types of waste.
Debris Removal Responsibilities. Debris removal may be done entirely
by the local government, and reimbursed by FEMA, or it may be entirely the mission
of the Corps. The Stafford Act authorizes debris removal by federal agencies from
publicly owned and privately owned (under certain conditions) lands and water when
state and local governments are overwhelmed and request assistance, as was the case
following Katrina. Debris management by the Corps falls under ESF #3, Public
Works and Engineering, under the NRP. The Corps is tasked with managing,
monitoring, and providing technical assistance in the clearance, removal, and
disposal of debris and the clearing of ground and water routes into the affected areas.
The actual collection and disposal of debris is done by contractors. FEMA plans to
reimburse local governments 100% of the cost of debris removal on public and29
private property, in counties that are eligible for assistance, until June 30, 2006.
There are many physical risks for workers in the recovery and rebuilding efforts
in disaster areas. These include exposure to toxic materials, infectious agents, and
mold; structural instability; falls; and the dangers of using equipment in unfamiliar
situations or with inadequate training, including heavy equipment, chain saws, and30
generators. EPA, CDC, and OSHA continue to advise state and local governments
and cleanup workers on proper health and safety measures when entering structures
and handling commingled debris.

27 (...continued)
at [].
28 See Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, Hurricane Katrina Debris
Management Plan, revised Oct. 14, 2005, available online at [
portal/Default.aspx?tabid=2245]; and Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality,
Emergency Order 5062 05, Sept. 13, 2005, regarding Solid Waste Management, Hazardous
Waste Management, and Asbestos, at [
MDEQEmerge ncyOrderNO.506205/$File/Eme rgencyOrder506205.pdf?OpenEleme nt].
29 71 Fed. Reg. 2261, FEMA Notice: “Louisiana; Amendment No. 10 to Notice of a Major
Disaster Declaration,” Jan. 13, 2006; 71 Fed. Reg. 13861, FEMA Notice: “Mississippi;
Amendment No. 13 to Notice of a Major Disaster Declaration,” Mar. 17, 2006.
30 Detailed information on these hazards and protective measures are posted on several
government websites: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) at
[]; National Institute on Occupational
Safety and Health (NIOSH) at []; and Centers for
Disease Control at [].

Releases of Oil and Hazardous Substances
The oil and chemical manufacturing industries have a significant presence in the
Gulf region, particularly in Louisiana. As Hurricane Katrina approached the Gulf
states, authorities expressed concern, anticipating an unprecedented level of oil and
hazardous substance contamination, especially in and around New Orleans. In
addition to the logistical challenge of managing a large volume of releases, unlike
more common wastestreams (e.g., solid waste, debris), oil and hazardous substances
require special handling and disposal techniques in order to reduce risks to public
health and the environment.
Congress has provided response and cleanup authorities for oil and hazardous
substances primarily in two environmental statutes. Section 311 of the Clean Water
Act (CWA)31 provides authority to EPA and the Coast Guard to respond to oil and
hazardous substance discharges that occur within U.S. navigable waters. Section 104
of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act
(CERCLA or Superfund)32 authorizes the President to respond directly to (1) releases
or threatened releases of hazardous substances and (2) pollutants or contaminants that
may endanger public health or the environment. CERCLA also authorizes EPA to
conduct long-term, remedial work at sites on the National Priorities List (NPL).
The government’s response to oil and hazardous substance releases generally
is governed by the National Contingency Plan (NCP).33 EPA leads the response to
spills on land and in inland waters, whereas the Coast Guard leads the response to
spills into coastal waters of the United States. If the President declares a major
disaster or emergency and FEMA activates ESF #10 (as occurred after Hurricane
Katrina), the National Response Plan (NRP) becomes the government response
protocol. In such a situation, the NCP continues to operate but is placed within the
broader NRP coordination structure.
Pursuant to the NCP, an EPA On-Scene Coordinator (OSC) is the predesignated
federal official and exclusive manager for responses to releases of oil and hazardous
substances. The OSC has the responsibility for ensuring an immediate and effective
response to a discharge or release. The OSC makes early (and subsequent) judgments
about the extent of the incident, what resources will be required, and which scientific
advisory teams will be needed. A major duty of the OSC is to coordinate with state
and local organizations at the site, who may have been the first responders. In
response to Hurricane Katrina, many of EPA’s 250 OSCs nationwide were sent to the
affected region.

31 Section 311 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as amended (commonly termed
the Clean Water Act), 33 U.S.C. §1321.
32 42 U.S.C. § 9601-9675
33 The National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (or NCP)
established by the CWA and amended by CERCLA, is codified in 40 CFR Part 300.

Oil Releases. The Coast Guard reported34 that it responded to 6 major, 3
medium, and 132 minor oil spills in southern Louisiana alone,35 where approximately
8 million gallons of oil were released from above-ground storage tank facilities. To
put this amount in perspective, the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill was around 11 million
gallons. The first of the major oil spills was cleaned up in early November 2005. Of
the 8 million gallons spilled, the Coast Guard reported that by December 8, 2005,
!3.8 million gallons were recovered;
!4 million gallons had evaporated or naturally dispersed;
!130,000 gallons were contained (e.g., afloat and surrounded by
booms); and36
!4,000 gallons were burned.
This total reported by the Coast Guard does not take into account gasoline from
gas stations and the estimated hundreds of thousands of flooded cars in the New
Orleans area. The joint CDC/EPA taskforce report (issued September 17, 2005)
noted that underground storage tanks of gasoline pose a potential threat of “unknown37
One of the largest and most publicized spills occurred at Murphy Oil refinery
in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. Flood waters from Hurricane Katrina damaged a

10 million gallon oil storage tank, spilling just over 1 million gallons of crude oil.

The released oil affected more than 1,800 homes in an adjacent residential
community, as well as canals in the area. EPA and the Coast Guard have divided
cleanup responsibility. EPA reports that more than 750,000 gallons (approximately38

75%) of the oil has been recovered.

EPA is working with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality
(LDEQ) to oversee Murphy’s sampling and cleanup activity. Murphy has collected
7,230 sediment samples from 4,271 properties. Murphy’s most recent assessment
indicates that 92% of the indoor samples and 97% of the outdoor samples are below39
LDEQ’s Risk Evaluation/Corrective Action (RECAP) screening standards for soil.
According to EPA, the RECAP screening standards are intended to be protective
levels based on long-term (i.e., 30-year) exposures in a residential setting. EPA will
continue to oversee Murphy’s sampling efforts to ensure that the RECAP standards

34 U.S. Coast Guard. Personal communication, Mar. 21, 2006.
35 Per Coast Guard definitions, in coastal areas, a major spill is over 100,000 gallons,
medium is between 10,000-100,000 gallons, and minor is less than 10,000 gallons.
36 U.S. Coast Guard. Personal communication, Mar. 21, 2006.
37 EPA/CDC Joint Taskforce, p. 7 and 24 of the assessment, available online at
[ h t t p : / / www.epa.go v/ ka t r i n a/ r e por t s / e nvneeds_hab_assessment .pdf ] .
38 U.S. EPA, Murphy Oil Spill Information, available online at [
katrina/testresults/murphy/index.html ].
39 U.S. EPA Region VI. Personal communication, Mar. 22, 2006.

are met.40 The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental
interest group, has been critical of EPA’s presentation of the sampling results.41 (See
the “Sediment Contamination” section for more discussion of this issue.)
Hazardous Substance Releases. Hurricane Katrina led to numerous
releases — both large and small — of hazardous substances. EPA Region IV
reported that emergency response personnel have conducted more than 5,237 incident
responses in Mississippi and Alabama (Louisiana is located EPA Region VI).42 An
incident response can involve investigation of reports from the National Response
Center (NRC),43 contacting facilities, and reporting hazardous material debris while
conducting land or water assessment in the affected areas.
In the New Orleans area, there is the added element that household hazardous
materials have been soaking in contaminated waters. As of February 16, 2006,
cleanup teams have collected more than 2 million hazardous material containers in
southern Louisiana. Most were from flood-damaged households and were relatively
small: several ounces to less than 55 gallons. In addition, recovery groups have
gathered approximately:
!31,000 drums (55 gallons or more),
!29,000 propane tanks,
!36,000 cylinders, and
!4,700 large containers.
EPA estimated that these storage devices contained hundreds or even thousands of
gallons of hazardous materials.44
The Gulf Coast region contains a large concentration of industrial operations,
including chemical manufacturing. Authorities were concerned that the hurricane
and related flooding may have caused releases of hazardous substances at these types
of facilities. In coordination with the Mississippi Department of Environmental
Quality, EPA Region IV analyzed soil and sediment samples at certain facilities in

40 U.S. EPA Region VI, Murphy Oil Spill Fact sheet available online at [
41 NRDC, Contaminants in New Orleans Sediment: An Analysis of EPA Data, Feb. 2006,
available online at [].
42 U.S. EPA Region IV. Personal communication, Mar. 22, 2006.
43 The NRC is the federal communications center staffed by the Coast Guard, which receives
all reports of releases involving hazardous substances and oil that trigger the federal
notification requirements under several laws. Reports to the NRC activate the National
Contingency Plan and the federal government’s response capabilities, available online at
[ ].
44 U.S. EPA. “Two Million Hazardous Material Containers Collected in Southern
Louisiana.” Feb. 16, 2006, News Release. Available online at [

the storm surge impact zone.45 EPA concluded, based on test results, that none of the
sites were affected by Hurricane Katrina.46
All oil and hazardous substance releases throughout the Hurricane Katrina area
have not been determined or assessed. EPA expects that “it will take some time
before we know the full extent of the impacts of oil spills resulting from Hurricane
Katrina.”47 T he CDC/EPA joint taskforce report stated that the potential for toxic
chemical exposure of returning residents is highly uncertain.48
Previously Contaminated Sites (Superfund)
As Hurricane Katrina approached, authorities worried about severe weather
impacts to the locations that were contaminated prior to Hurricane Katrina. Of
particular concern were the sites currently on (or recently removed from) the
Superfund National Priorities List (NPL), EPA’s list of the most contaminated sites
in the United States. There are 15 NPL sites in the Katrina-affected area of Louisiana
(including five in New Orleans), six in Alabama, and three in Mississippi.49

45 EPA focused on facilities subject to Risk Management Plans, Tier II reporting, and Toxic
Inventory Release reporting requirements.
46 U.S. EPA, Region IV Hazardous Site Investigations, available online at
[]. EPA’s website does not report
analogous information for Region VI.
47 U.S. EPA, Frequent Questions, available online at [].
48 Joint Taskforce, p. 38. Available from the EPA website at [
reports/envneeds_hab_assessment.html ].
49 U.S. EPA, Summary of Assessments at Superfund National Priority List Sites, available
online at [].

Figure 1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Superfund National
Priority List (NPL) Sites in Areas Affected by Hurricane Katrina:
Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi

EPA reported that all NPL sites had initial assessments and that samples were
collected at each facility. Sampling results for all of the sites are available on EPA’s
website []. EPA
concluded that many of the sites were not compromised by the hurricane. However,
sampling findings at several sites in Louisiana continue to cause public concern. For
!Delatte Metals, Tangipahoa Parish, LA — Sampling from one
monitoring well collected in October 2005 indicated that the
concentrations of four metals (arsenic, lead, manganese, and nickel)
have increased above the levels reported in May 2005.
!PAB Oil, Abbeville, LA — Groundwater samples taken in October
2005 indicated that concentrations of arsenic and chromium
exceeded applicable drinking water standards.
!Bayou Bonfouca, Slidell, LA — Three substances (naphthalene,
fluorine, and acenaphthene) were detected through groundwater
sampling in October 2005. Although their concentrations did not
exceed screening levels for tap water, their detection raises questions
regarding migration of hazardous constituents.
!Central Wood Preserving, East Felicia Parish, LA — EPA does not
believe that the site was affected by the hurricanes. However, EPA
reported that soil sampling results from the southern half of the site
exceeded the site’s action level for arsenic and are inconsistent with

the sampling conducted before the hurricanes. This inconsistency
raises questions regarding potential hurricane effects.
!The Agriculture Street Landfill, Orleans Parish, LA — This landfill
was submerged under three feet of water and is located in an area
that was extensively damaged. Officials were concerned the landfill
liner had been compromised. October 2005 sampling indicates that
initial contaminants of concern (e.g., lead) remain below the site’s
cleanup levels. However, sediments deposited from flooding show
levels of benzo(a)pyrene that exceed LDEQ standards.
EPA will continue to monitor these sites to determine if future action is necessary.
As with the oil sampling, environmental interest groups have criticized EPA’s
analysis and presentation of its Superfund site sampling data as inadequate.50 The
extent of the potential contamination from these sites will not be known until
sampling is complete and the results fully evaluated, a process likely to continue for
some time.
Contaminated Floodwaters in New Orleans
Outside of Louisiana, large highly urbanized or industrialized areas did not
remain flooded for an extended period after Hurricane Katrina passed. In Mississippi
and Alabama, the primary damage resulted from the storm surge, high winds, and
rainfall accompanying the hurricane.
In New Orleans, however, floodwaters breached the city’s existing system of
levees and floodwalls that is designed to provide a certain level of protection from
storms and intense precipitation. Because flooded portions of the city are below sea
level and have little natural drainage, the first task there was to remove the trapped
water, estimated by the Corps to have been 114 billion gallons at the maximum,51
through intentional levee breaks and the existing complementary system of pumps
and canals. (For additional information, see CRS Report RL33188, Protecting New
Orleans: From Hurricane Barriers to Floodwalls, by Nicole Carter.) While the
surge of storm water from Hurricane Katrina that engulfed the city was not
contaminated initially, it became so when the trapped water mixed with human and
animal sewage, decaying bodies, oil and gas from ruptured tanks and pipes, and
myriad chemicals that leached from damaged properties and vehicles. Managing the
floodwaters raised several issues, including how to control immediate public health
and environmental impacts due to direct exposure to the water. Longer-term, the
massive flooding raised many additional concerns, such as how to identify and
manage releases of toxic chemicals into the water and deposition into the muck and
sediment that remain after the water receded, and how to assess and manage the
impacts of discharging the floodwaters into Lake Pontchartrain (discussed below).

50 Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), “Contaminants in New Orleans Sediment,
An Analysis of EPA Data,” Feb. 2006. Available online at [
51 Stacey Brown, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Personal communication, Sept. 14, 2005.

As mentioned above, the National Contingency Plan, prescribed under both the
Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. §§1251-1387) and CERCLA (Superfund; 42 U.S.C.
§§9601-9675), gives EPA specific responsibility to respond directly to releases or
threats of releases of hazardous substances and pollutants or contaminants that may
present an imminent and substantial danger to public health or welfare and to
discharges of oil, all of which have been contaminating waters that flooded New
Orleans. In addition, under the National Response Plan, EPA generally has the lead
federal role in addressing hazardous materials and oil, and in ensuring environmental
safety and short- and long-term cleanup. The Coast Guard often acts as co-lead, with
responsibility for coastal incidents.
Assessing Floodwaters. The Army Corps of Engineers was responsible for52
pumping the floodwaters out of New Orleans. As of October 11, 2005, the Corps
reported that the unwatering of the New Orleans metropolitan area was completed,53
although some areas required additional pumping of floodwater. The unwatering
effort for Hurricane Katrina was temporarily delayed by additional floodwaters from
Hurricane Rita at the end of September and reoccurrences of breaches to sections of
the canal levees.
“Unwatering” New Orleans was critical to the public health response to
Hurricane Katrina in order to remove water that posed a direct risk to public health
and the environment, and also could provide a breeding area for vectors of illnesses
such as West Nile Virus. Once the unwatering was complete, floodwater was no
longer a source of contaminant exposure to persons (residents and responders) in
affected areas. Biological and chemical tests of the floodwaters conducted by EPA
and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, beginning immediately
after the hurricane, showed concentrations of fecal bacteria at least 10 times in excess
of EPA’s recommended levels for human contact. The initial sampling in flooded
neighborhoods identified total coliforms and E. coli (bacteria found in high numbers
in the feces of humans and other warm-blooded animals) that are indicators of
potential human pathogens in the floodwaters. Because of the risk of intestinal and
other illness from exposure to the contaminated water, EPA and CDC advised the
public and all responders about the possible hazards of contact with floodwaters and
cautioned that floodwater should not be swallowed.54 Further testing continued to
show greatly elevated E. coli levels, higher than EPA’s recommended levels for
contact, even several weeks after Hurricane Katrina. The level of contamination was55

similar to normal stormwater runoff, however.
52 The Corps of Engineers’ authority to unwater New Orleans derives from the Robert T.
Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. §5170b) and P.L. 84-99,
Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies, Section 216 (33 U.S.C. §701n).
53 U.S. Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers, Public Affairs Office, Press Release,
Oct. 11, 2005, [].
54 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Hurricane Response: Katrina/Rita, “Test Results:
Water,” [], visited Oct. 12, 2005.
55 J.H. Pardue et al., “Chemical and Microbiological Parameters in New Orleans Floodwater
Following Hurricane Katrina,” Environmental Science & Technology, Nov. 15, 2005,

In addition, EPA conducted daily sampling through mid-October to analyze
floodwaters for more than 100 pollutants, including a number of volatile organic
compounds (VOCs), metals, pesticides, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The
data were compared with EPA’s drinking water standards and action levels or to
health guidance values calculated by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease
Registry (ATSDR, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services56) to
protect people who are exposed to those levels over a period of time longer than
floodwaters persisted in New Orleans. Lead was commonly detected at levels
exceeding the EPA drinking water action level. Arsenic, barium, thallium,
chromium, benzene, selenium, and cadmium were detected in some samples at levels
that exceeded EPA drinking water standards. Several other chemicals, such as
manganese, toluene, nickel, and zinc, were detected in floodwater and compared with
ATSDR health guidance values57 but were determined not to be immediately
hazardous to human health.
Concentrations of toxic substances found in the floodwaters were not high
enough to pose a human health threat or produce overt, immediate illness, unless a
great deal of floodwater were swallowed. According to EPA, “These compounds
would pose a risk to children only if a child were to drink a liter of flood water a day.
Long-term exposure (a year or longer) to arsenic would be required before health
effects would be expected to occur.”58 Nevertheless, EPA and CDC advised the
public and emergency responders to avoid contact with the water, when possible.
Overall, EPA and other officials appear to believe that the floodwaters were
less hazardous than some had originally feared — at least in terms of toxic chemicals
whose risks are more long-term than immediate — but that high levels of bacteria did
pose a significant short-term risk to public health. However, they acknowledged that
the levels of contamination found are typical of urban floodwaters.
Post-Katrina Environmental Sampling and Monitoring
After the hurricanes departed and floodwaters in New Orleans receded, federal
and state agencies began what are likely to be long-term efforts to assess and analyze
impacts of the storms and restoration activities on the region’s water, air, and land.
A number of environmental sampling and monitoring projects and programs began
almost immediately after the storms and are expected to continue for some time.

55 (...continued)
vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 8591-8599.
56 ATSDR was created by Congress in 1980 to implement the health-related sections of laws
that protect the public from hazardous wastes and environmental spills of hazardous
substances. See [].
57 ATSDR Minimum Risk Levels (MRLs) exist for some chemicals, and levels measured
were compared to MRLs, when available. For hazardous substances for which there are no
MRLs, ATSDR developed exposure models based on current available toxicity information.
58 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “EPA Response Activity — September 14,”
[http://www.epa.go v/ ka trina/activities/week3.html #sep14].

Contaminated Sediment and Structures. As the floodwaters in New
Orleans receded, some pollutants settled in a layer of sediment ranging in depth from
less than an inch to several feet, complicating the cleanup. On September 10, 2005,
EPA began sampling residue sediments from locations in Orleans and St. Bernard
Parishes, testing for fecal coliform bacteria and about 200 chemicals. According to
EPA, “sediment, for the purposes of the hurricane response sampling effort, is being
defined as residuals deposited by receding flood waters which may include historical
sediment from nearby water bodies, soil from yards, road and construction debris,59
and other material.”
Preliminary results indicated that some sediment was contaminated with
bacteria and fuel oils, and human health risks could exist from contact with deposited
sediment, EPA said. However, because no standards exist for determining human
health risks from bacteria in soils or sediment, EPA officials could only generally
recommend that contact or exposure to sediment be limited if possible.
Testing has continued in the months since the hurricanes. According to EPA,
a variety of chemicals have been detected in the sediments. Those most frequently
detected include some metals, petroleum hydrocarbons, and pesticides. The majority
of chemicals detected were below levels of health concern and are similar to the
historical levels found in the region. However, EPA also reported that there were
some localized areas with levels of arsenic, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs,
pollutants associated with burning activities), and diesel and oil range organics that
exceeded both EPA risk criteria (based on long-term, 30-year residential exposure
assumptions) and Louisiana Risk Evaluation/Corrective Action Program (RECAP)
criteria. State officials believe, in general, that the sediments in previously flooded
areas would not be expected to cause adverse health effects, provided that people
adhere to good health and safety practices. EPA and Louisiana have continued to60
resample a number of sites to determine next steps.
The extent of contamination of sediments — and the potential risk posed to the
public, as a result — has been the focus of many scientists’ attention, and some
findings have been controversial. In January, one group of researchers reported
results of sediment, water, and soil samples collected in mid-September in and
around New Orleans to determine immediate health hazards and serve as baseline
information for follow-on studies. Concentrations of the pesticide aldrin, arsenic,
lead, and seven semi-volatile organic compounds in sediments exceeded one or more
EPA thresholds for human health screening levels (pertinent to chronic exposure and
adverse health effects) and high priority “bright line” screening levels (which indicate
prioritization of hazard cleanup in EPA Region VI). These scientists stated that the

59 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Hurricane Response: Katrina/Rita, “Test Results:
Sediment from Flood Water, Including Resampling,” [
testresults/index.html #sediment].
60 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Hurricane Response 2005, “Summary of
Sediment Testing: Hurricanes Katrina and Rita,” [ /testresults/
sediments/index.html ].

high lead concentrations in post-Katrina soil samples may pose a significant health
risk, particularly to children returning to highly contaminated areas.61
Interpreting the significance of these findings is complicated by the fact that at
least some of the contamination existed before Katrina flooded New Orleans. In
2004, researchers analyzed nearly 5,000 soil samples from across the city and found
that 40% of New Orleans soils exceed EPA’s lead cleanup standard (400 parts per
million/ppm), with some lead concentrations above 1,000 ppm. As a result, even
before Hurricane Katrina, 20-30% of children in the inner city had blood lead levels
greater than the CDC health guideline of 10 micrograms per deciliter.62
In February, a public interest group issued a report that reexamined EPA’s
sediment sampling data and criticized EPA for releasing the data on its website
without providing any analysis. It concluded that federal and Louisiana officials are
misleading New Orleans residents by saying that most of the New Orleans
neighborhoods are safe, because the group’s analysis of EPA’s data found that
most districts in New Orleans contain concentrations of arsenic, lead, diesel fuel
or cancer-causing benzo(a)pyrene above levels that would normally trigger
investigation and possible soil cleanup in the state of Louisiana. Some hot spots
in residential neighborhoods have levels of contamination that are ten times, or63
even more than a hundred times normal soil cleanup levels.
Louisiana officials responded to the group’s report by saying that it
misrepresents EPA and state data by using state screening standards that indicate if
detected concentrations in soil require further evaluation or management, and
presenting them as health-based standards. A concentration greater than the state’s
screening level does not mean the levels are going to pose an unacceptable health
risk, especially because health risk levels are based on assuming that individuals are
continuously exposed to that concentration for a 30-year period, rather than the
shorter-term generally associated with post-hurricane exposures.64
The controversy about sediment contamination highlights the difficulty that
public officials face in trying to inform the public about potential risks from short-
term exposure to pollutants, when health-based standards that regulators use to
establish emission controls or discharge limitations are based on risks from long-term

61 Steven M. Presley et al., “Assessment of Pathogens and Toxicants in New Orleans, LA
Following Hurricane Katrina,” Environmental Science & Technology, Jan. 15, 2006, vol. 40,
no. 2, pp. 468-474.
62 Pelley, Janet, “Lead a Hazard in Post-Katrina Sludge,” Environmental Science &
Technology, Jan. 15, 2006. vol. 40, no. 2, pp. 414-415.
63 Natural Resources Defense Council, “Contaminants in New Orleans Sediment, An
Analysis of EPA Data,” Feb. 2006, p. 3.
64 State of Louisiana, Department of Environmental Quality, “Arsenic Sampling Results
Explained,” Jan. 10, 2006. See [
arsenicexplainedj an10.pdf]

Air Quality, Mold, and Vector Concerns. EPA scientists are concerned
that air pollution may result not only from chemical spills and releases at industrial
plants, but also may emanate from contaminated sediments. As contaminated
sediments dry, they may release pollutants that can be re-suspended as dust. For
example, vehicular traffic that disrupts sediments on previously flooded roadways
can resuspend or aerosolize fine, powdery dust that presents an inhalation hazard.
In addition, some scientists are concerned that, as flooded areas dry out, some of the
pathogens in the contaminated water will become airborne.
EPA began screening air quality in hurricane-affected areas on August 30 to
provide an initial assessment of air quality. In coordination with Louisiana and
Mississippi, EPA has been monitoring air quality since the storms to assess damage
from the hurricanes, as well as problems that could occur as a result of cleanup and
restoration activities. EPA and state officials continue to work to restore the
stationary air quality monitoring network sites in Louisiana and Mississippi, which
were heavily damaged. Portable and mobile collection devices (an EPA helicopter,
buses, and an Air Force plane) continue to be used to monitor air quality where
stationary networks have not been restored. Sampling has been done to test for
metals (e.g., lead and arsenic), VOCs, PAHs, particulate matter, and other pollutants.
Early screening results indicated that chemical concentrations in the air were
below ATSDR health standards and that long-term exposure (a year or more) at the
levels detected would be required for health effects to be of concern. The sampling
identified particle pollution at levels considered moderate (meaning that unusually
sensitive people should consider avoiding vigorous exercise). However, samples
were not collected with standard monitors, meaning that the mix of particles in the
screening samples cannot easily be compared to EPA standards. EPA cautioned that
initial sampling did not represent air quality conditions throughout the region, and
should not be used to make general characterizations.
While measurements for most pollutants reported were below EPA’s health-
based screening levels for chemicals, monitoring at certain sites showed elevated
levels of some pollutants (acrolein and formaldehyde, for example). At the
concentrations measured, temporary irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat could
result. EPA said that elevated exposures would not be acceptable on a regular basis
extended over weeks at a time, but isolated exposures to such concentrations are not65
believed to be associated with long-term health problems.
A significant concern associated with the cleanup is the potential for health
hazards due to the presence of molds, mildew, and other fungi in soggy, damaged
structures. The excess moisture and standing water resulting from Katrina
contributed to the growth of molds in homes and other buildings, particularly in the
New Orleans area, where 60%-80% of residential structures sustained severe flood
damage and experienced conditions conducive to mold — damp, warm environments
— and where a large number of people are likely to be exposed to mold and other
microbial agents. Outside of New Orleans, prolonged flooding did not occur. In
those areas, more typical patterns of wind and rain also can result in problems with

65 For information, see [].

mold, but not as extensive as in New Orleans. Mold and other fungi can cause a
number of health conditions, including allergic reactions, toxic effects, and
infections. All persons in the region have been cautioned about the effects of mold,
especially those with weakened immune systems and those with respiratory
illnesses/allergies. However, CDC also said that there are no criteria for using either
the concentration or type of mold in buildings to make informed decisions.66 Health
authorities remain alert to the fact that mold may emerge as one of the environmental
health challenges in coming months.
A related issue is an increase of rodents and insects that might carry diseases
such as West Nile Virus. Hurricane Katrina compounded Louisiana’s insect problem
on several levels, including forcing the evacuation of standard vector control
personnel, destroying vector disease control equipment, and dramatically increasing
the number of stagnant bodies of water throughout New Orleans and surrounding
parishes, which serve as ideal breeding grounds for insects like mosquitoes. Medical
personnel from the U.S. Navy worked with the CDC and Louisiana Department of
Public Health to eliminate vector-borne disease and other insect-related problems
associated with mosquitoes. However, because spraying for mosquito control can
affect workers in the region, spraying was used conservatively, according to the
Navy. EPA worked with state agencies, FEMA, and others to expedite any requests
needed for pesticide use and also worked with manufacturers to make sure that
adequate supplies of pesticides were available.
Water Discharged into Lake Pontchartrain. While necessary to the
overall cleanup from the Hurricane Katrina, the water removal from New Orleans
raised a number of concerns. Removal involved pumping the floodwater into Lake
Pontchartrain, an option that was necessarily expedient, but not necessarily ideal,
because contamination in the lake could harm aquatic plants and animals. As noted
above, because of geography, the city lacks sufficient natural drainage for the water
to remove itself. Pumping it into the Mississippi River was not a viable option, as
the floodwater could contaminate river water which is the source of the city’s
drinking water supply. Treatment of the contaminated floodwaters prior to discharge
was not possible because of the need to unwater the city rapidly, and the
unavailability of full treatment technology. Nor was it possible to hold the pumped
water somewhere to filter out pollution. The Corps took some steps to remove
wastes prior to discharge into the lake, such as putting booms and skimmers in place
at outfalls to trap floating material and debris, and installing aeration units in canals.
In unwatering New Orleans, the Corps pumped the equivalent of 5% of the lake’s
volume back into the lake. The contaminated floodwaters were low in dissolved
oxygen, because of the presence of oxygen-consuming matter in sewage and
decaying plant material. The Corps’ aeration units were intended to restore oxygen
levels before the water entered the lake. Otherwise, the oxygen-deprived floodwaters
would likely harm fish and other organisms in the lake which need oxygen to survive.

66 For more information about molds and mildew related to the hurricanes, see “Mold:
Prevention Strategies and Possible Health Effects in the Aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina
and Rita,” Oct. 2005, available at the DHHS/CDC website [
disasters/mold/report/]. For general information regarding mold, also see the EPA website
[ ht t p: / / ka t r i na/ heal t hi ml #f l oodmol d] .

The lake is a 630-square mile waterbody that already is impaired by a number
of known sources of water pollution, including stormwater runoff (the largest
contributor to pollution of the lake), agricultural discharges from animal operations,
chemical use, discharges from wastewater treatment plants and individual septic
systems, oil and gas production, and saltwater intrusion from the Mississippi River
Gulf Outlet (a navigation channel that links the Gulf of Mexico to the Port of New
Orleans as an aid to shipping).67 The lake is partly rimmed by cypress and tupelo
swamps, which could be damaged by saltwater that Hurricane Katrina introduced.
But restoration activities had been underway for several years, and aquatic life in the
lake, including manatees, an endangered species, have been observed; sportfishing
occurs; and certain species of clams, crabs, and shrimp are harvested from the lake.
The Corps’ prevention efforts (e.g., booms, skimmers, aerators) likely had little
effect on limiting any toxic chemicals, metals, or pesticides in the discharged water.
Consequently, the lake received the equivalent of several years of urban runoff in
only a few weeks. Sudden loads of toxic chemicals and low dissolved oxygen levels
might cause considerable harm to sensitive species of aquatic life over the short-term,
but long-term effects are more difficult to predict. Whether toxic chemicals will be
diluted, degraded by bacteria, and flushed out of the lake by tides, as some scientists
believe, or will remain in the lake and accumulate in its sediments, as others believe,
will not be known for some time, perhaps years.
Soon after the hurricanes, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality,
assisted by such federal partners as the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), began
testing Lake Pontchartrain to assess short-term and long-term effects of discharging
pumped water into the lake, and the lake’s outlets and inlets. The state wanted to
know whether pollutants exceeded expected levels (as compared with historical site
data) and whether water quality standards were being exceeded. Early test results
have been confirmed in subsequent testing that continued more than four months
after the storms. Overall, large fish, possibly tarpon, and other fish have been
observed, and shrimp and crab harvesting in the lake has resumed. Tests of surface
waters on the south shore of the lake indicated dissolved oxygen, fecal coliforms, and
turbidity all meet water quality standards, and water quality parameters in general
have remained at or near values expected for the fall and winter seasons. USGS
monitoring indicated very low levels of fecal and enterococci levels in the lake, well
within safe limits for full body contact (however, a state advisory to avoid swimming
and other primary contact sports has been in effect for the south shore of the lake
since 1985). Detected contaminant levels generally were lower than what is
commonly found in urban storm water but higher than the federal drinking water
standard. However, Lake Pontchartrain is not a drinking water source for New
Orleans or other communities because it is brackish water.
Standards for organic compounds have not been exceeded, and very few
samples have had detectable concentrations on the south shore of the lake. Likewise,
on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, there have been no exceedences of

67 U.S. Geological Survey, “Environmental Atlas of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin, Water
Quality,” []; Lake Pontchartrain Basin
Foundation, “Wetlands,” Online at [].

Louisiana water quality standards for organic compounds. However, the north shore
of the lake and tributary streams continue to be affected by low dissolved oxygen
levels, which were responsible for early reports of fish kills.68
Coastal Water Impacts. Another concern was whether or not fecal or
chemical pollution from New Orleans and other inundated areas had spread into
coastal waters. Federal and state agencies sampled and analyzed water and sediment
quality in the river channels and near shore waters surrounding the Mississippi Delta.
Ocean survey and research vessels operated by EPA, the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Science Foundation tested
for pathogens. Early and followup tests did detect indicators of fecal contamination,
but at levels below applicable standards. Public officials determined that the water
was safe for primary contact recreation, including swimming. However, they
cautioned that the data should not be used to assess the safety of consuming raw or
undercooked molluscan shellfish such as oysters, because ingestion of water presents
different risks from eating raw or undercooked shellfish.
NOAA also conducted chemical contaminant analyses of sediments, water, and
fish tissues. NOAA officials reported in October that some chemicals were detected,
but at levels below threshold limits for contaminants in seafood. Thus, they
concluded that they had not found significant threats to the region’s seafood supply.
Nevertheless, because the effects of a large hurricane on water are not all
immediate, monitoring by EPA, NOAA, and others will continue regularly through
the year to identify any new impacts.
Impacts on Drinking Water Sources. Another area of interest has been
possible effects of Hurricane Katrina on waters that are sources of drinking water
supplies throughout the area. Outside of New Orleans, public and private drinking
water supplies are drawn from groundwater sources. The U.S. Geological Survey
and the State of Louisiana undertook a small groundwater reconnaissance effort to
look for impacts from the storm surge, such as saltwater mixing or elevated bacteria
levels, but they have not reported adverse results. Also, EPA distributed drinking
water test kits in the New Orleans area so that private well owners could test for
possible contamination by floodwaters and overflowing sewers. Privately owned
wells that provide drinking water are regulated by states, not EPA, and the number
of such wells in the affected Gulf Coast area is unknown. In most states, owners of
private wells are responsible for testing for contamination.
The source of public drinking water supply for New Orleans is the Mississippi
River. State and federal partners have assessed possible impacts to the river, such as
saltwater and sediment dumped during Katrina’s storm surge and chemical and
bacteria contamination released from damaged facilities, structures, and sewers. In
October, one test for fecal coliform was detected above the state’s standard for

68 Louisiana DEQ, Water Quality Assessment Division, “Post-Hurricane Water Quality
Assessments: Katrina Monitoring (Report #10).” Jan. 24, 2006.
[htt p: / / www.deq.l oui portal/portals/0/news/pdf/Post-Katrina%20Water%20

recreation contact (swimming), but well below the drinking water standard. More
recently, according to the state, test results for fecal coliform contamination have
been below health-based standards. The state also has worked to reestablish its Early
Warning Organic Chemicals Detection System (EWOCDS) to help evaluate the
quality of the river as the city’s drinking water supply. This system, a cooperative
agreement among the state, five industries along the river, and the New Orleans
Sewerage and Water Board, tests for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the
ambient water. Several of the system’s seven sampling sites along the river were
damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Since the storms, six of these seven analysis sites
have been restored to varying operational condition.69
Water Infrastructure Facilities in the Affected Region70
Throughout the Katrina-affected region, high winds and water damaged a wide
range of public service facilities, including drinking water supply and treatment and
sewage treatment plants, and restoring those facilities is part of the overall cleanup
and restoration process. Under authority of the National Response Plan, especially
ESF #10, EPA and Corps of Engineers staff have conducted assessments, providing
assistance to state and local government personnel to evaluate damages. Steps
involved in actually restoring service include drying out and cleaning engines; testing
and repairing waterlogged electrical systems; testing for toxic chemicals that may
have infiltrated pipes and plants; restoring pressure (drinking water distribution
lines); activating disinfection units; restoring bacteria needed to treat wastes
(wastewater plants); and cleaning, repairing, and flushing distribution and sewer
Damages at many facilities included loss of electric power to pump, process,
and treat raw water supply and wastewater. As electric power was restored, many of
the affected systems were able to restore needed services, although some drinking
water facilities are still operating under boil-water notices pending test results to
ensure that the water has been restored to standards safe for public consumption. The
number of sites that were off-line changed frequently. By October 10, 2005, EPA
reported that more than 85% of drinking water and 95% of wastewater treatment
facilities in the affected region were operational. However, EPA estimated that
facilities not operating or with unknown status normally served about 200,000
drinking water customers and more than half a million wastewater customers. By
December, EPA reports indicated that all wastewater treatment plants in Mississippi
and Alabama were considered to be operational. In Louisiana, a small number of
wastewater treatment plants were not yet operational, including three large facilities
serving about 150,000 customers. Nearly all drinking water treatment plants
throughout the region also had restored at least partial service, although about 5%
remained under boil water advisories. Efforts continue throughout the region to
assess facilities to determine their operating status, including needs to repair or

69 David Wagenecht, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, Personal
communication, Mar. 17, 2006.
70 For additional information, see CRS Report RS22285, Hurricane-Damaged Drinking
Water and Wastewater Facilities: Impacts, Needs, and Response, by Claudia Copeland.

rebuild. Staff of EPA’s Water Program are assessing all drinking water and
wastewater plants in the region.
EPA cautions that evaluations are on-going, and the status of many facilities is
unclear (especially small systems). Facilities determined to be operational may still
require repair or reconstruction. Facility restorations, full or partial, may take many
months, and, even six months after the hurricanes, costs of needed repairs are
unknown or, where available, are considered preliminary. In 2006, the EPA
Inspector General reported that Louisiana and Mississippi officials estimate that
about $615 million will be needed in those two states for public water system
replacements and repairs due to Hurricane Katrina.71 In Louisiana and Mississippi,
officials estimated in February that costs to repair those states’ damaged wastewater
infrastructure exceed $1.3 billion, with about $1.2 billion needed just in New
Orleans. As noted, however, all such estimates are very rough.
Impacts on New Orleans’s water systems were particularly severe. In the central
portion of the city, in addition to electric power impairments, extensive damage
occurred from flooding of treatment plants, drinking water distribution lines, and
collector and interceptor sewers, and the water system’s power plant. Even after
restoration of electricity, cleanup and recovery at flooded water and sewage treatment
plants are taking considerable time. The first task was to remove excess stormwater,
which required extensive repair of the city’s stormwater system, including levees and
drainage pumps. Once floodwaters were addressed, drinking water restoration
became the next priority. The largest of the city’s two drinking water plants, located
where the worst flooding took place, was completely underwater for nearly two
weeks. It was repaired sufficiently to provide flow (i.e., for fire fighting), but may
not be capable of providing potable water for some time, officials say. The issue
with regard to drinking water in this area is large numbers of waterline breaks
resulting from house connections that were damaged when trees fell, fire hydrants
that were damaged by debris or debris cleanup efforts, and lines that were crushed
or fractured by the weight of floodwaters. Affected areas remain under boil water
advisories or are receiving drinking water from tanker trucks and emergency pilot-
scale treatment plants.
For flooded areas, sewage treatment often is the last thing back online, because
plants are at the lowest point of the city, to take advantage of gravity, and thus were
under the deepest water. New Orleans’s two wastewater treatment plants were
damaged: the larger facility, which serves 1.2 million customers, was flooded until
the end of September, and standing water significantly damaged pumps and electrical
equipment. This plant partially restored service in October and was able to provide
secondary treatment of wastes by mid-November, but numerous continuing
operational problems persist, including power disruptions, leaks, and equipment
difficulties. The city’s public works officials reportedly believe that much of the

71 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Inspector General, “Evaluation Report:
EPA’s and Mississippi’s Efforts to Assess and Restore Public Drinking Water Supplies after
Hurricane Katrina,” Report No. 2006-P-00011; Feb. 14, 2006, “Evaluation Report: EPA’s
and Louisiana’s Efforts to Assess and Restore Public Drinking Water Systems after
Hurricane Katrina,” Report No. 2006-P-00014, Mar. 7, 2006.

sewer system has probably been damaged, and cracks, leaks, and breaks will need to
be fixed by tearing up roads (although road repairs already may be required, as part
of the overall cleanup effort), a potentially lengthy repair process.
Ironically, one problem facing New Orleans and a number of other communities
that were extensively damaged by the hurricanes is a lack of customers. Although
the majority of water and sewer facilities have been able to resume operations, some
are not in use because displaced citizens have been unable to return. Some of the
systems considered to be operational are serving only a small percentage of their pre-
Katrina customers. Thus, there is little or no population present for utilities to serve,
meaning that there is insufficient demand for drinking water or waste flowing into
wastewater treatment plants for normal operations, and utilities are unable to collect
revenues needed to pay existing bills, repair or maintain their facilities, or make
payments on bonds.
Potential Challenges and Issues
The enormity of the tasks associated with cleaning up from a natural disaster on
the scale of Hurricane Katrina is probably unprecedented, and likely to exceed others
in this country’s history in terms of scope, duration, and cost. An overriding issue
concerns the effectiveness of current federal roles and whether existing federal
cleanup authorities are adequate to address the damage caused by a disaster as large
scale as Hurricane Katrina.
The range of tasks described in this report have occurred, and will continue to
occur, over varying periods of time — from the immediate responses of reducing
threats to public health and safety; to assessing Hurricane Katrina’s impacts; to
removing, repairing, and rebuilding; and to long-term monitoring of the impacts of
actions that are taken to mitigate the storm’s damages. Each of these phases of
cleanup, which reflect a continuum more than discrete steps, presents numerous
challenges and issues. Some of these issues are listed below.
!The scale of the cleanup (both geographic and volume) represents a
huge management challenge for all levels of government and the
private sector. Potential concerns include adequacy of landfill
capacity; health and safety of cleanup workers; and capability of, or
community resistance to, applying “best practices” for waste
!Potential long-term ecological effects, if any, that may result from
recovery measures, such as discharging contaminated floodwaters
from New Orleans into Lake Pontchartrain.
!The volume of storm-related waste containing hazardous materials,
and the difficulty in separating hazardous and nonhazardous wastes.
!The limited number of homeowners that have returned to New
Orleans stretches the debris removal process out indefinitely.

Except under certain conditions, property owners will be responsible
for debris removal and decisions to demolish private properties.
!The potential for homes to contain asbestos slows the demolition
and renovation process for those homes that have been cleared for
demolition. Moreover, human remains are still being found in the
rubble; demolition of a structure cannot be undertaken quickly if it
is determined that it is possible that human remains are inside.
!The ongoing need to balance public health protection with allowing
access to homes and businesses.
!Public involvement in cleanup decisions. The public — especially
residents of the affected region — has a strong interest in the
cleanup, since they will experience impacts of those actions.
Keeping the public well informed and involved is critical, but also
has been difficult, especially in the early aftermath of the storm
!Understanding and communicating the nature and degree of risks to
public health and the environment associated with contaminants
identified in water, soil, and air. This issue is complicated by the
difficulty in knowing whether contaminant levels represent pollution
generated solely by the hurricane (from leaks or spills, for example)
or if they are legacy problems that preexisted in the environment
before the storm occurred. Further, public officials are unable to
effectively assure residents that the post-hurricane environment is
safe because the standards being applied do not clearly distinguish
between long-term health concerns and screening determinations to
identify necessary remediation.

Appendix 1
Table 1. Federal Department/Agency Cleanup Functions and
Responsibilities as Indicated in the Emergency Support
Functions of the National Response Plan (NRP)
National Response Plan (NRP) Responsibilities and Functions
(text italicized to emphasize cleanup elements; page # indicates
Agencywhere function is located in the NRP)
Department ofProvides engineering and contracting/procurement personnel and equipment to assist in
Agricultureemergency removal of debris, demolition, repair of roads and bridges, temporary repair of
essential public facilities, and water supply. (p. ESF#3 - 5)
Provides support for public health matters for radiological incidents as a member of the
Advisory Team for Environment, Food, and Health. (p. ESF#8 - 8)
Support coordination of animal issues such as disposal of animal carcasses. (p. ESF#8 - 8)
Food Safety Inspection Service: includes proper disposal of contaminated products in order
to protect public health and the environment in affected area. (p. ESF#11 - 8)
Provides for the inspection, fumigation, disinfection, sanitation, pest extermination, and
destruction of animals or articles found to be so infected or contaminated as to be sources of
dangerous infection to human beings and takes such other measures as necessary. (p. ESF#11 -


Assists with the prevention, control, and eradication of any highly contagious/zoonotic disease
involving wildlife; and carcass disposal facilities, as appropriate. (p. ESF#11 - 11)
Department ofThe Coast Guard is designated the primary agency with EPA for interagency incident
Homelandmanagement under ESF #10 supporting assessment, mitigation, cleanup, containment, and
Security / U.S.disposal of oil and hazardous materials; the Coast Guard is the primary agency for coastal
Coast Guardincidents; EPA is primary agency for inland areas and incidents affecting both. (pp. ESF#10 -


Coordinates the marking and removal of obstructions declared to be hazards to navigation.
(p. ESF#3 - 6)
Assists in debris and contaminated debris management activities when debris or runoff
impacts navigable waters. This includes coordinating and/or providing resources,
assessments, data, expertise, technical assistance, monitoring, and other appropriate support.
(p. ESF#3 - 6)
Department ofProvides expertise on natural resources and coastal habitat, the environmental effects of oil
Commerce/and hazardous materials, and appropriate cleanup and restoration activities. (p. ESF#10 - 10)
Oceanic andConducts emergency hydrographic surveys, search and recovery, and obstruction location to
Atmosphericassist safe vessel movement. (p. ESF#10 - 10)


National Response Plan (NRP) Responsibilities and Functions
(text italicized to emphasize cleanup elements; page # indicates
Agencywhere function is located in the NRP)
Department ofThe U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps)is designated as the coordinator for ESF #3
Defense /U.S.dealing with infrastructure protection and emergency repair, infrastructure restoration,
Army Corps ofengineering services, construction management, and critical infrastructure liaison. (p. ESF#3 -
Engineers 5)
Provides contracting services through ESF #3 to urban and rural firefighting forces to obtain
heavy equipment and/or demolition services as needed to suppress incident related fires. (p.
ESF#4 - 4)
Provides available military medical personnel to assist HHS in the protection of public health
(such as food, water, wastewater, solid waste disposal vectors, hygiene, and other
environmental conditions). (p. ESF#8 - 9)
The Department of Defense (not the Corps) provides On-Scene-Coordinators and directs
response actions for releases of hazardous materials from its vessels, facilities, vehicles,
munitions and weapons. (p. ESF#10 - 10)
Provides expertise and resources to assist in the removal and disposal of contaminated and
noncontaminated debris, to include animal carcasses and debris affecting NCH resources. (p.
ESF#11 - 10)
Supports the development of national strategies and plans related to housing and permanent
housing, debris management and the restoration of public facilities and infrastructure. (p.
ESF#14 - 5)
Department ofEnables radiologically contaminated debris management activities by coordinating and/or
Energyproviding resources, assessments, data, expertise, technical assistance, monitoring, and other
appropriate support. (p. ESF#3 - 6)
Provides regional resources to evaluate, control and mitigate radiological hazards to workers
and the public. (p. ESF#8 - 10)
Provides an On-Scene-Coordinator and directs response actions for releases of hazardous
materials from its vessels, facilities, and vehicles. (p. ESF#10 - 10)
Provides advice in identifying the sources and extent of radioactive releases relevant to the
National Contingency Plan, and in removal and disposal of radioactive contamination. (p.
ESF#10 - 10)
Provides technical advice in radioactive debris management. (p. ESF#14 - 5)
GeneralProvides personnel and contractors to assist in damage assessment, structural inspections,
Servicesdebris clearance monitoring and restoration of facilities in general, construction inspection,
Administrationand environmental and archeological assessments. (p. ESF#3 - 8)

National Response Plan (NRP) Responsibilities and Functions
(text italicized to emphasize cleanup elements; page # indicates
Agencywhere function is located in the NRP)
U.S.EPA is designated as the coordinator and primary agency (with the Coast Guard) for
Environmentalinteragency incident management under ESF #10 supporting assessment, mitigation, cleanup,
Protectioncontainment, and disposal of oil and hazardous materials. EPA is primary agency for inland
Agency and incidents affecting both inland and coastal zones; the Coast Guard is the primary agency
for coastal incidents. (pp. ESF#10 - 1-3)
Supplies sanitary engineers to assess wastewater and solid waste facilities. (p. ESF#3 - 8)
Assists in locating disposal sites for debris clearance activities. (p. ESF#3 - 8)
Assists contaminated debris management activities by coordinating and/or providing
resources, assessments, data, expertise, technical assistance, monitoring and other appropriate
support. (p. ESF#3 - 8)
Identifies location and provides safety guidance for areas affected by hazardous materials.
Ensures the protection and cleanup of these areas. (p. ESF#3 - 8)
Provides technical assistance and environmental information for the assessment of the
health/medical aspects of situations involving hazardous materials. (p. ESF#8 - 13)
Provides technical assistance, subject-matter expertise and support for biological, chemical,
and other hazardous agents on contaminated facility remediation, environmental monitoring
and contaminated agriculture (animal/crops) and food product decontamination and disposal.
(pp. ESF#11 - 12)
Provides technical assistance for planning for contaminated debris management and
environmental remediation. (p. ESF#14 - 5)
Department ofEnables contaminated debris management activities by coordinating and/or providing
Health andresources, assessments, data, expertise, technical assistance, monitoring and other appropriate
Human Servicessupport. (p. ESF#3 - 6)
Supplies engineering and environmental health personnel to assist in assessing the status of
wastewater and solid waste facilities. (p. ESF#3 - 6)
Provides technical assistance for shelter operations related to food, vectors, water supply and
waste disposal. (p. ESF#6 - 6)
Works in cooperation with EPA and USDA to ensure the proper disposal of contaminated
food or animal feed. (p. ESF#10-11)
Department ofDHS/FEMA is the primary agency for providing ESF #3 recovery resources and support;
Homelandprovides supplemental Federal disaster grant assistance for debris removal and disposal. (p.
Security/FEMAESF#3 - 3)
Department ofProvides personnel to assist in damage assessment, structural inspections, debris clearance
the Interiormonitoring, and restoration of facilities in general. (p. ESF#3 - 7)

National Response Plan (NRP) Responsibilities and Functions
(text italicized to emphasize cleanup elements; page # indicates
Agencywhere function is located in the NRP)
Department ofProvides worker safety advice, assistance, and policy support for debris removal, building
Labor/OSHAdemolition, and other ESF #3 activities. (p. ESF#3 - 7)
NuclearAssist radiological contaminated debris management activities by coordinating and/or
Regulatoryproviding resources, assessments, data, expertise, technical assistance, monitoring, and other
Commissionappropriate support. (p. ESF#3 - 8)
The NRC and EPA coordinate their responses to an emergency involving both radiological
and chemical release in accordance with joint NRC/EPA implementing procedures. (p.
ESF#10 - 13)
Department ofFacilitate an integrated response between nations when a discharge or release crosses
Stateinternational boundaries or involves foreign flag vessels. (p. ESF#10 - 2)
Department ofProvides engineering personnel and support to assist in damage assessment, debris clearing,
Transportationand restoration of the Nation’s transportation infrastructure. (p. ESF#3 - 7)
Source: Prepared by the Congressional Research Service using data from the National Response Plan, December 2004,
downloaded from []; visited March 23, 2006.