Hurricane Florence Response
EPA is coordinating closely with local, state, and federal partners as the Agency focuses on responding to the impacts of Hurricane Florence. EPA is monitoring numerous sources of information for reports on releases of oil and hazardous substances from first responders engaged in search and rescue efforts, as well as media observations and reporting, information from facility personnel embedded at their sites, and the National Response Center. EPA is also monitoring information flows from the local command posts, state, and regional emergency operations centers.
EPA On-Scene Coordinators (OSCs) are deployed to the State Emergency Operation Centers (SEOCs) in North Carolina and South Carolina and to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Regional Response Coordination Center in Atlanta to assist with Emergency Support Function (ESF) 10 for Oil and Hazardous Substances response efforts. Additional OSCs and equipment are ready to deploy. EPA continues to coordinate with our federal, state, tribal, and local government partners to provide assistance as needed.
Tips to Stay Safe
ALWAYS CALL 911 if you are in immediate danger and need emergency help.
- Avoid exposure to mold or bacteria. Mold and bacteria growth after flood waters recede can be hazardous to your health.
- Start the recovery process. If you have insurance, and it’s safe to return home, call your insurance company to file a claim. Take photos and videos of all damages before you start cleaning up.
- Extreme heat and humidity can be dangerous. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, and take frequent rest breaks.
Update: October 3, 2018
As of October 3, 2018, the EPA assessment teams conducted preliminary inspections on 113 NPL sites, with no issues identified in 112 reviews. Due to flooding, the EPA found offsite impacts at the Burlington Industries Cheraw site located in Cheraw, SC. EPA is currently conducting a removal action at this site.
A list of assessed sites can be found here.
View prior EPA press releases on Hurricane Florence here.
View the EPA story map about Hurricane Florence response activities here.
EPA Response Actions
HEADQUARTERS EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER
- The EPA headquarters Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is partially activated.
- Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler continues to convene the EPA Policy Coordinating Committee (PCC) for coordination around the response.
REGIONAL OPERATIONS CENTERS
Region 4: The EPA Region 4 Regional Emergency Operations Center is activated. Region 4 has approximately 42 personnel currently involved in emergency response efforts.
- EPA Region 4 Administrator Trey Glenn remains in contact with Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina and is working with emergency response staff to determine regional assessment and response deployment activities.
- EPA Liaison Officers are deployed to the FEMA Regional Response Coordination Center.
- EPA Region 4's Regional Readiness Center has the Mobile Command Post, emergency response trailers, utility terrain vehicles, all-terrain vehicles, the breathing air trailer, communications equipment, air monitoring instruments, and field equipment ready for deployment .
North Carolina: The North Carolina State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) is currently operating at Level 2 (partial activation).
- FEMA issued a Mission Assignment (MA) for Direct Federal Assistance (DFA) to EPA R4 on September 16 to provide ESF-10 assistance to North Carolina including, but not limited to facility assessment and oil and hazardous substance response.
- EPA Region 4 received notification of a train derailment near Lilesville, North Carolina on September 16, and an unknown volume of diesel was released from the fuel tanks of the locomotives. The derailment reportedly occurred due to a washout of the railway as a result of Hurricane Florence. An EPA On-Scene Coordinator and Superfund Technical Assessment and Response Team consultants were deployed to assess the scene, ensure adequate response, provide air monitoring and other operational support, as needed. The diesel fuel accumulated in a low-lying area and did not reach the Pee Dee River. CSX contractors are on-scene and mitigating the spill.
- EPA monitored hog lagoons in storm-impacted areas and coordinated with North Carolina, as needed, to assess impacts to downstream drinking water intakes due to possible releases. EPA On-Scene Coordinators and equipment stand ready to deploy, if needed.
- EPA closely coordinated with North Carolina and coal ash impoundment operators to assess the status of any facilities impacted by the storm, and provided assistance as needed or requested by the state.
- At the state's request, the EPA North Carolina out-posted On-Scene Coordinator began staffing the North Carolina SEOC ESF-10 desk on September 10.
South Carolina: The South Carolina EOC at OPCON 3 activation (Full Activation -- 12-hour operations).
- At the state's request, the EPA South Carolina out-posted On-Scene Coordinator began staffing the South Carolina EOC ESF-10 desk on September 12.
- The state has made no further request for EPA assistance.
- EPA waived the federal Reid vapor pressure requirements for fuel sold in designated areas in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia to minimize problems with the supply of gasoline. EPA also waived in these same states the prohibition on the blending of reformulated gasoline blendstock for oxygenated blending with other gasoline blendstock or oxygenate. EPA intended for these waivers to assist in distributing fuel needed for voluntary and mandatory evacuations. Additionally, EPA waived the highway diesel fuel red dye requirements to allow the sale and use of non-road diesel fuel in highway vehicles in North Carolina. All waivers have expired.
- EPA issued no action assurances as requested by North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia to help avoid delays in fuel distribution. EPA policy allows the Agency to issue no action assurances in cases where it is necessary to avoid extreme risks to public health and safety and where no other mechanism can adequately address the matter. Under these no action assurances, EPA did not pursue enforcement actions against tanker trucks under air quality regulations governing the testing for tank tightness and associated documentation.
- In addition, it is expected that damage from the storm and/or power outages could impact the vapor recovery systems at fuel loading facilities. To address this concern, EPA issued two no action assurances as requested by Virginia and North Carolina regarding the loading and unloading of fuel at bulk gasoline terminals, pipeline breakout stations, marine tank vessel loading operations, and gasoline loading racks. Pursuant to these no action assurances and the conditions contained in them, EPA did not pursue enforcement actions for violations of the Clean Air Act vapor recovery requirements for these fuel loading and unloading operations in those states.
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