heard there are oil spills in the parishes to the east and southeast
of New Orleans. Is this true?
In the aftermath
of Hurricane Katrina there have been at least 10 major to medium oil
spills reported (see table below), with the total volume spilled at
8 million gallons. These incidents resulted in the discharge of oil
along the Mississippi River from Chalmette to Venice and west to Port
Fourchon. Additionally, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) estimates that approximately
134 minor spills of less than 10,000 gallons have occurred and are being
coordinated at this time. The Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator’s
Office (LOSCO) reported that 3.1 million gallons have been recovered,
and 3.7 million gallons have evaporated. By comparison, in America's
largest oil spill, the Exxon Valdez dumped 11 million gallons into Alaska's
Prince William Sound.
Terminal, Buras, La.
Cox Bay, La.
West, Potash, La.
East, Potash, La.
Point a la Hache, La.
Oil LP, Nairn, La.
On Nov. 5, 2005,
the USCG announced that cleanup efforts had finished at the Shell-Pilottown
tank farm. The Pilottown site, where approximately 1.07 million gallons
escaped from damaged tanks and pipelines, is the first to complete clean-up.
Approximately 950,000 gallons were held in secondary containment and
recovered, with the remaining oil either evaporating or dispersing naturally.
Clean-up continues at the following sites: Chevron Empire Terminal in
Buras; Sundown East and Sundown West, both in Potash; Bass Enterprises
Production Co. Cox Bay facility at mile marker 35 on the Mississippi
River; Bass Enterprises Production Co. in Pointe a la Hache; Dynegy
Venice in Venice.; Murphy Oil in Meraux; and Shell Nairn in Port Sulphur.
spill in Meraux has attracted the most attention, but the largest spill
was in the coastal marshes near Empire from a Bass enterprises facility,
where two partially-filled storage tanks, both 16 feet high and 290
feet across, were smashed by 28 feet of Katrina flood water and moved
The storm surge
from Hurricane Rita damaged containment booms and re-oriented oil spilt
during Katrina but resulted in no additional major spills. As of Nov.
15, 2005, no additional major pollution incidents resulted from Hurricane
Rita were reported. A few low lying areas remain flooded and assessments
were still pending as of Sept. 28, 2005. The USCG reported one medium
spill where a 130,000 gallon capacity diesel tank was moved three miles
from its original position by Hurricane Rita, resulting in a leak of
less than 30,000 gallons.
NOAA Office of
Response and Restoration’s Incident News
Spill Coordinator’s Office (LOSCO)
Davis, Louisiana Applied Oil Spill Research And Development Program
and Justin Farrell, Louisiana
Sea Grant College Program)) 4-6-06
heard that the standing floodwaters in New Orleans are heavily contaminated.
Is that true?
by definition, means to make something impure, unclean or polluted,
especially by mixing harmful impurities into it or by putting it in
contact with something harmful. In order to understand the water quality
issue in New Orleans, we must qualify the level of contamination. Most
of our surface waters are monitored and managed to meet designated use
parameters, such as supporting aquatic life (fish and other aquatic
organisms) and swimmable waters, which involve contact with the possibility
of ingestion. Obviously, the standards for drinking water are much more
stringent. Currently, there are no untreated surface waters, much less
floodwaters, with “drinking by humans” as its designated
In the case of New Orleans floodwaters, the impurities didn’t
get put into Lake Pontchartrain, the lake inundated the city. Just imagine
everything in the city which could possibly contaminate water: household
cleaning solutions, sewage, automobile fluids and fuel, trash, debris,
etc. being picked up by floodwater. However, it’s important to
consider the volume of water which inundated the city and how it somewhat
diluted the contaminants. Early sample results showed some hot spots,
but the majority of samples analyzed for toxins, volatile organics and
other contaminants were at or below acceptable levels. The one major
concern is the level of E. coli bacteria, which is an indication that
the water can be infectious. It is recommended that contact with floodwaters
be avoided if at all possible. Fortunately, almost all of the floodwaters
have been pumped out of the city, and recent tests indicate the lake
has had an amazing ability to assimilate these waters and associated
pollutants. (See question on the impacts of floodwaters on Lake Pontchartrain
above). For sample results and additional information about the monitoring
of floodwaters in New Orleans, visit the Web sites below.
Savoie and Brian LeBlanc,
Louisiana Sea Grant College Program/LSU AgCenter) 10-6-05
will be the environmental impact of discharging polluted floodwaters
into Lake Pontchartrain?
The Louisiana Department
of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) are sampling and analyzing floodwater and the water of
Lake Pontchartrain. Recently released information indicated very good
news for Lake Pontchartrain. DEQ conducted tests of aquatic toxicity
on flood waters taken from the streets of New Orleans, and these tests
indicated that all fish species and 10 of 12 invertebrate species were
able to survive in this water. Because these species were able to survive
in the full concentration of floodwaters, we can expect minimal ecological
damage to the lake, according to DEQ Secretary Mike McDaniel. The discharge
of floodwaters will be further diluted in ambient lake waters, resulting
in concentrations of pollutants below levels of concern. Ongoing tests
of lake water along the south shore have shown little or no degradation
of water quality compared with hundreds of analyses conducted prior
to floodwater pumping. Tests indicate lake water quality post-Katrina
is similar to conditions found during normal stormwater runoff events.
As predicted, hurricane insults to water quality occurred along the
north shore. These included low dissolved oxygen and some fish kills
in the tributaries, but these are brief events.
Savoie and Brian LeBlanc,
Louisiana Sea Grant College Program/LSU AgCenter) 10-6-05
I have my private well water sampled and who can test it for me?
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals recommends testing
of private well water samples for total coliform bacteria (fecal coliforms
and E. coli) following flooding, and total coliforms and nitrate annually.
Additional analyses may be advisable after a flood or chemical release,
and depending on factors that could provide evidence of contamination.
Questions to ask
to determine what analyses may be appropriate after a flood.
- What parish is
the sample from?
- How old is your
residence and when was the well constructed?
- From what source
did the flooding occur (pond, river, salt or brackish water), and
the name (if applicable)?
- How near a municipality
is your well?
a. What municipality?
b. Was the municipality flooded?
c. Were fuel stations with underground tanks flooded near you residence?
d. Were chemical storage facilities or points of sale flooded near
your residence, and what chemicals may have been stored there?
- What is the
land use in the immediate location of the well?
a. Farming, and what crops?
b. Confined animal operations and what animals?
c. Industrial activities and what kind of industry (petrochemical,
plastics, pesticides, herbicides, other)?
- Have there been
unexpected chemical emissions from nearby industries prior to flooding
or during the flooding?
- Is there a noticeable
color or odor change from the water after 2-3 minutes of purging?
- Have contaminants
been detected in nearby wells?
Taking Your Own
First, contact the
W. A. Callegari Environmental Center, LSU AgCenter prior to sample collection
to determine appropriate analyses and necessary sample size:
David Schellinger, Lab Manager (email@example.com)
Javed Iqbal, Quality Assurance Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Obtain clean
plastic or glass container(s) washed with a phosphate-free soap, rinsed
with good quality filtered water and air dried (never remove the cap
until taking sample).
- Never touch
the inside of lid or container.
- Samples must
be obtained from a faucet closest to the well.
- Sterilize the
faucet inside and out
- Using a
three-inch flame from a butane torch circling the inside and outside
of the opening several times
- Using chlorine
bleach and a brush or rag
- Fully open the
faucet for 2-3 minutes (hand pumps 5-10 minutes).
- Remove lid(s)
from sample container(s) and fill ¾ full and replace lid(s)
- Store and ship
samples in ice.
of samples to:
W. A. Callegari
1300 Dean Lee Drive
Baton Rouge, LA 70820
Carney, LSU AgCenter) 9-22-05
do I clean and disinfect my well after a flood?
After a flood, it
is important to take every precaution to ensure the safety of your well
water. First, it is necessary to inspect and clean the well and pump
before using them. You may want to have your water well driller or contractor
check out the well before using it.
Do not turn on the
pump until an electrician or well contractor has checked the wiring.
There is a risk of electrical shock! After the proper inspections have
taken place, run the pump and discard the water until the well water
after a flood, you should disinfect the well. This can be accomplished
by following the procedures outlined below; however, it is advisable
to hire a well contractor to disinfect the well for you.
- Pump the well
for several hours to reduce the cloudiness and contaminant levels
in the water.
- Pour four gallons
of a chlorine bleach solution into the well. Chlorine bleach solution
consists of one gallon of bleach with three gallons of clean water.
Open every faucet and pump the water until the water coming out of
the faucet smells like chlorine, and then turn off each faucet. If
you do not smell chlorine at the faucet, add a little more chlorine
solution until the smell is detected.
- Let the system
sit for 24 hours.
- Open the faucets
and run the water until the chlorine smell disappears.
- Have the water
sampled and tested. The water IS NOT safe for drinking until lab results
show no indication of total coliform bacteria. You can discuss the
final lab results with the lab or local parish health unit. It is
important to remember that disinfection will not remove chemicals
which may have contaminated your well during a flood.
Carney, LSU AgCenter) 9-22-05
is being done to assess the environmental impact of Hurricane Rita in
areas of southwest Louisiana?
Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) have been assessing these impacts for several
days. Flyovers along the coast from Wax Lake in St. Mary Parish to the
Sabine River revealed 33 oil spills, but their severity has not been
indicated. This assessment will continue. Flyovers of industrial areas
did not reveal any problems, and ground assessments continue. Teams
are investigating publicly owned sewage treatment facilities to determine
if damage was done and if environmental problems are occurring. It is
probable some localized fish kills will or have occurred due to sedimentation
and resulting low dissolved oxygen, saltwater influx and other “normal”
effects after hurricanes. For more information about the monitoring
efforts, visit the Web site below.
LeBlanc, Louisiana Sea Grant College Program/LSU AgCenter) 10-6-05)