The mixture of sediment, debris, muck, left behind from Hurricane Katrina contains many RCRA regulated hazardous waste.
The mixture of the muck and hazardous waste constitutes itself to be a hazardous waste containing flammable, corrosive, reactive, and toxic materials. William C. Blackman Jr. states, “EPA has ruled that most mixtures of solid waste and listed hazardous waste are considered hazardous waste and must be managed accordingly” (46). In disaster situations such as Katrina it is necessary to result to emergency procedures to contain waste and avoid further contamination and health issues.
The concerns of the local citizens had to be addressed by informing them that after analyzing the trends from similar emergency situations it was necessary to contain the hazardous waste in lake Pontchartrain. Researchers had developed model plans to help handle these situations. Researchers state, “floodwaters covering New Orleans were pumped into Lake Pontchartrain as part of the rehabilitation process in order to make the city habitable again To quickly constituting a rapid cleanup it was necessary to use Lake Pontchartrain. Researchers questionably state, “The long-term consequences of this environmentally critical decision were difficult to assess at the time and were left to observation” (2008). Observation has prevailed in making a decision based on time and available resources to save some lives and help clean up the environment.
The amount of household waste generated during hurricane Katrina is questionable because different residences had different items, containing RCRA chemicals. Household chemicals range from oil, gas, chlorine, and other solvents pesticides and cleaners. Batteries containing lead and acid are also present in household environments and automobiles. Researchers, (Walsh, Pardue, Haas, Reible) state, “The constituent most often found to exceed the recap screening criteria were arsenic, lead, several PAH’s, including benzo a pyrene, and diesel range organics” Researchers continue by stating, “Although the flooding in New Orleans resulted in the potential for unparallel exposure to toxics and contaminates, initial concerns about a toxic gumbo have not been supported by sampling analysis to date” (2006). There is evidence that supports the fact that pesticide plants and other chemical industries were also flooded in New Orleans.
The existing superfund sites would be threatened and clean up and remediation delayed for many years. This delay could also cost citizens even more money in the future. Superfund sites also contain many hazardous waste that can be spread by flooding. Blackman states, “The average superfund site clean up cost was more than 10 million” (243). This is not including damage and delays from hurricanes and flooding.
In the event an emergency clean up plan is needed, the best course of action is to break up into teams. Each team will have a supervisor. This is a crew of workers specially trained in environmental surveying and emergency clean up procedures. The key components of the plan would involve all aspects of the phase I and II environmental assessments performed at hazardous waste sights.. These workers need to visual inspect the area and survey the damage. The muck must be sampled in areas where high contamination is expected from RCRA chemicals. All muck should be contained in highly polluted areas and be treated and disposed of in one containment sight. It is important to try and pinpoint the most polluted and hazardous muck by visually conducting a survey of the surrounding area.
Toxic and Contaminated Concerns generated by Hurricane Katrina, Danny D. Reible, Charles N. Haas, John H. Pardue, William J. Walsh Journal of environmental engineering, ASCE / June 2006
Probabilistic Fugacity analysis of Lake Pontchartrain Pollution after Hurricane Katrina, Gokgoz-kila, Sinem, and Mustafa M. Aral, Multimedia Environmental Simulations laboratory, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of USA” June 16 2006, revised 2007
Basic Hazardous waste management, William C. Blackman, CRC Press Company, Boca Raton Florida 2001