Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency supporting response to Rhode Island Floods

Boston – U.S. Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England in Woods Hole, Mass., the First Coast Guard District office in Boston and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have teamed up with the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management to continue assessing threats from pollutants that may have resulted from the recent flooding in Rhode Island.

The Coast Guard’s Atlantic Area Strike Team, a group of men and women trained to rapidly deploy and support pollution response with specialized equipment and incident management skills, arrived in Rhode Island today to assist with the flood response efforts.

Joint assessment teams comprised of RI DEM, U.S. EPA and the Coast Guard will work as the floodwaters rescind and allow access to the flooded areas. If the teams discover any potential or actual pollution, they will organize a response to mitigate any threats. Data from the teams working in the field will be compiled at the RI EMA, and responses will be prioritized as needed.

“We do not expect to find any large release, but want to make sure we perform a thorough assessment and mitigate any threats as best we can,” said Coast Guard Marine Science Technician Chief Petty Officer Mark Bisnette, from Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England. “There is a possibility drums from small businesses or propane tanks from homes and out-door grills may have broken loose and floated away. We want to find them and dispose of them properly.”

The commander of Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England asks that anyone who finds any type of containers that may have unknown substances should assume the contents are hazardous and not touch them. Report any such occurrences to the local Coast Guard unit or to the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802.

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