clearn.png
Tuesday May 21st, 2019 6:47AM

Regulators keep watch on toxic waste sites during hurricane

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

As Hurricane Florence spins inland, environmental regulators are monitoring more than three dozen toxic waste sites in the storm's path, as well as scores of low-lying water- and sewage-treatment plants at risk of flooding.

The Environmental Protection Agency has identified 41 Superfund sites in threatened parts of the Carolinas, Virginia and Maryland and Georgia, including polluted industrial sites, chemical plants, coastal shipyards and military bases.

EPA spokesman John Konkus said the agency is listening for any word of oil or hazardous substance spills from first responders, media reports and state and local emergency command posts. He said federal on-scene coordinators and equipment stand ready to deploy if needed.

Superfund sites are among the nation's most highly polluted places. They often contain contaminated soil and toxic waste at risk of spreading if covered by floodwaters. More than a dozen Superfund sites in the Houston metro area were flooded last year during Hurricane Harvey, with breaches of potentially harmful materials reported at two.

Though it was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane at landfall Friday, Florence remains a massive storm that will dump trillions of gallons of rain on eastern North Carolina before sweeping across South Carolina.

No toxic spills had been reported as of Friday afternoon, but the region's rivers were not expected to crest for days. Forecasters predicted severe flooding for parts of southeastern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina starting Sunday.

The worst natural disaster in North Carolina history was Hurricane Floyd in 1999, which dumped nearly 2 feet of rain and flooded a broad swath of the coastal plain, swamping whole towns and dozens of hog farm lagoons containing millions of gallons of untreated urine and feces.

Florence, a slow-moving system that forecasters say could release more than 3 feet of rain in places, could end up being even worse.

Environmental groups said Friday that they were worried that scores of hog lagoons will burst again or be overtopped by flooding, spilling their contents into rivers used as sources of drinking water. Also of concern were more than three dozen coal ash dumps at power plants in the region. The gray ash that remains after coal is burned contains potentially harmful amounts of mercury, arsenic and lead.

Among the Superfund sites most at risk from Florence is Horton Iron and Metal, a former shipbreaking operation and fertilizer manufacturing site in a low-lying floodplain along the Cape Fear River outside Wilmington, North Carolina. The 7.4-acre site is heavily contaminated with pesticides, asbestos, toxic metals and cancer-causing PCBs.

Upriver along the Cape Fear is Carolina Transformer Co., a 5-acre Superfund site in Fayetteville that also contains contaminated soil and groundwater contaminated with PCBs.

Forecasts call for the river to crest Monday at Fayetteville at more than 62 feet — nearly 30 feet above flood stage.

In Elizabeth City, the Triangle Pacific Corp. site includes a World War II-era Navy blimp base along the Pasquotank River that was later purchased by a company than manufactured wooden cabinetry. The site is contaminated with toluene, acetone, cadmium and arsenic.

Also of concern is the sprawling Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia and Marine Corps bases at Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point in North Carolina and at Parris Island in South Carolina.

The shipyard near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay dates to 1767 and contains contaminated soil and groundwater from more than two centuries' worth of dumped hazardous chemicals. Hazards at the Marine bases include ground saturated with toxic chemicals, old paint, ash from old trash burn pits and unexploded ordnance.

Nationwide, there are 327 Superfund sites in areas prone to flooding or vulnerable to sea-level rise caused by climate change, according to an Associated Press analysis of flood zone maps, census data and EPA records. Nearly 2 million Americans live within a mile of the most at-risk sites.

___

Follow Associated Press investigative reporter Michael Biesecker at http://twitter.com/mbieseck .

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Business
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Mother, infant, among several killed by Hurricane Florence
A mother and baby killed when a tree smashed into their house are among several deaths caused by Hurricane Florence
6:49PM ( 6 minutes ago )
New US survey shows some progress against opioid crisis
A U.S. government survey shows some progress in the fight against the ongoing opioid addiction crisis
6:39PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Dallas police face ire over portrayal of man shot by officer
Attorneys for the family of a man who was killed in his own apartment by a Dallas police officer blasted the investigation on Friday, denouncing it as a one-sided effort to clear the officer of wrongdoing
6:39PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
4 dead as Hurricane Florence drenches the Carolinas
Four deaths have been blamed on Hurricane Florence as the storm pushes its way across the Carolinas with heavy rain and the potential for epic flooding
6:24PM ( 31 minutes ago )
Kobach aims to drive out migrants living in Kansas illegally
Republican Kris Kobach says Kansas is spending $377 million a year on benefits for immigrants living in the state illegally, and he promises to put a stop to it if he's elected governor
6:06PM ( 49 minutes ago )
San Francisco statue that some call racist is removed
Workers removed a 19th century statue near San Francisco's City Hall that some have said is racist and demeaning to indigenous people
6:06PM ( 49 minutes ago )
AP National News
Grandmother sues over police shooting of black 13-year-old
The grandmother of a black 13-year-old who was fatally shot by a white police officer after a suspected robbery is suing the officer, his police chief and the city of Columbus
5:02PM ( 1 hour ago )
As Trump threatens election meddlers, Russia says 'so what?'
Russia is shrugging off President Donald Trump's new sanctions order for foreign election meddling
4:46PM ( 2 hours ago )
Small-company stocks shine on an otherwise ho-hum day
Small-company stocks did better than the rest of the market on what turned out to be an indecisive day of trading on Wall Street.
4:45PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
Mother, infant, among several killed by Hurricane Florence
A mother and baby killed when a tree smashed into their house are among several deaths caused by Hurricane Florence
6:49PM ( 6 minutes ago )
New US survey shows some progress against opioid crisis
A U.S. government survey shows some progress in the fight against the ongoing opioid addiction crisis
6:39PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Dallas police face ire over portrayal of man shot by officer
Attorneys for the family of a man who was killed in his own apartment by a Dallas police officer blasted the investigation on Friday, denouncing it as a one-sided effort to clear the officer of wrongdoing
6:39PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Black female Democrats urge party to rethink future
At the annual meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus Friday, black female candidates who prevailed in the primaries over established incumbents said it's time for a conversation about how the party is structured
6:37PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Gov. 'Moonbeam' says California to launch climate satellite
California Gov. Jerry Brown said Friday that the state plans to launch its own satellite into orbit to battle climate change
6:34PM ( 22 minutes ago )