NEW ORLEANS — The cleanup and processing efforts of orphaned containers continues as the area recovers from Hurricane Isaac.
An incident management team, consisting of the Coast Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Environmental Protection Agency, Louisiana Department of Environmental Equality, and affected parishes, was established to collect and dispose of orphaned containers which were scattered and abandoned during Hurricane Isaac.
Containers may hold petroleum products, hazardous materials, unknown chemicals, non-hazardous contents or be empty. The public is reminded to not set fire to debris fields or rack lines and to avoid contact with any unidentified containers.
Extra care is being given to the use of appropriate collection methods in order to prevent further damage to areas of environmental, cultural, and historical significance. The most important objectives of the operation are to ensure the safety of citizens and response personnel and to recover those containers which are easily accessible to the public.
“Our number one priority is the removal of orphaned containers five gallons in size or larger containing hazardous materials that are easily accessible to the public,” said Lt. Scott Houle, Coast Guard deputy incident commander for the response. “So far we have completed initial recovery of containers accessible by land and are beginning recovery of those easily accessible by water. We are working closely with parish debris removal contractors to ensure additional recovery.”
Following the storm 167 areas containing targets were initially identified, of these areas, 127 were evaluated and processed. The remaining 40 targets were absorbed by the IMT and additional areas were found throughout the discovery process, adding 447 containers which hve been recovered and processed. The IMT continues to aggressively search for containers via aerial and ground assessments. Coast Guard and state officials urge residents to avoid contact with any chemicals or pollutants and to make reports to the National Response Center at 800-424-8802.