EPA Says Prepare for Hurricane Season

The Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 1 and ends November 30. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is calling on the public to prepare now for natural disasters to aid recovery efforts.

“EPA’s response to natural disasters is one of the many ways that we protect human health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We want to inform the public of how they can prepare for hurricane season and help protect their communities, the environment, and first responders by mitigating hazardous waste and securing potential harmful debris before storms strike.”

Debris and household hazardous waste management is always challenging during natural disasters and has a great impact on public safety. Based on the 2017 and 2018 responses to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Florence, EPA responders were in the field during the aftermath of the hurricanes and managed a tremendous amount of waste as part of the recovery efforts, including:

  • About 470,100 containers (drums, oil containers, propane tanks) recovered.
  • Approximately 2,900 vessels recovered or closed.

As a reminder, facility operators have certain requirements that call for preventing, minimizing and reporting chemical releases. Facility operators have an obligation to operate facilities safely, minimize releases that do occur, and report chemical releases in a timely manner.

Unlike some natural disasters, the onset of a hurricane is predictable and allows for early preparations to lessen its effect on a facility. Before hurricane force winds and associated storm surge flooding damage industrial processes, operators can take preventive action by safely shutting down processes, place hazardous chemicals in safe storage locations, or otherwise operate safely under appropriate emergency procedures. If a chemical release does occur, operators should notify appropriate authorities immediately so that a proper response can be carried out.