Unified Command activated to address pollution threat in wake of Hurricane Florence

National Response Center logoFAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — State and Federal emergency responders organized an Emergency Support Function #10 (ESF #10) North Carolina Unified Command, Thursday, with the mission of overseeing the assessment, mitigation and removal of hazardous materials from North Carolina’s waterways in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

The Unified Command consists of U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. JoAnne Hanson serving as Federal On-Scene Coordinator Representative; Mr. Jordan Garrard, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Incident Commander; Mr. Jim Bateson, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) On-Scene Coordinator; and Capt. David O’Neal, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) On-Scene Coordinator. Currently, response teams are assessing the most affected areas in declared North Carolina counties.

“Our number one priority during pollution assessments is the safety of our responders and the public affected by these potential hazards,” said Hanson. “Our objective is to complete assessment and mitigation of all hazardous materials and substances, including displaced vessels and chemical containers, that resulted from the hurricane.”

As of Sept. 27, 2018, ESF #10 Pollution Assessment Teams have identified 223 vessels and 33 containers impacted by Hurricane Florence. These numbers are subject to change as owners salvage their vessels and additional vessels are discovered in the affected areas.

Owners of storm-impacted vessels can contact the teams at (757) 355-1042 to report their salvage plan or request assistance. Owners should be prepared to provide their name, phone number, vessel registration number, and the reference number listed on the sticker placed on their vessel.

Assessment teams will place highest priority on vessels actively leaking pollution, and can take immediate action to contain the material and remove it from the environment. The teams are tagging damaged vessels with a sticker requesting owners contact a hotline to report the vessel’s salvage or request assistance. Vessels that are sunk or damaged will be mitigated to avoid pollution release and may be relocated to avoid becoming a future hazard to navigation.

Any displaced or adrift containers larger than 55 gallons (approximately two feet wide by three feet tall) should be reported to the the National Response Center at (800) 424-8802. Any containers smaller than 55 gallons should be reported to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality or local municipal waste facilities.

ESF #10 is the framework coordinating federal and state agency response to actual or potential oil spills or hazardous material releases in the FEMA designated counties. Partner agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are contributing expertise and experience to the assessment efforts.

In addition to the ESF #10 mission, Coast Guard crews have rescued or assisted 934 people and 313 pets across North and South Carolina and helped reopen the ports of Morehead City and Wilmington.

For photos and video of the Coast Guard’s preparation and response to Hurricane Florence, visit our Hurricane Florence Flickr album.

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