EDR has identified 236 unique sites that currently house hazardous waste or have been contaminated in the past and are within the immediate projected path of Hurricane Florence. Ahead of Florence’s expected landfall on the United States mainland this weekend, EDR analyzed property risk data in a study area along the coastal area of the North Carolina-South Carolina border.
Within the study area, EDR is most concerned with these types of sites that may pose environmental risk in the wake of Hurricane Florence:
- 156 Superfund/State Cleanup Program
- 60 Facilities that Treat/Store Hazardous Waste
- 24 Facilities that Use Hazardous Waste
- 79 Animal Operations Permits
- 3 Coal Ash Sites
NOTE: The study area encompasses the North Carolina counties of Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender counties, as well as Horry county in South Carolina. Certain sites may be in multiple counts (e.g., a site in the state cleanup program that is also included in the site count as a hazardous waste storage site).
POTENTIAL HAZARDS IN FLORENCE’S PATH
The floodwaters from Hurricane Florence have the potential to impact some of the nation’s worst-contaminated sites. These are areas that are currently undergoing cleanup under the federal Superfund program or an equivalent state cleanup program. Also included are sites known to store and handle hazardous waste, facilities required to file Risk Management Plans to the U.S. EPA for their use of chemicals on-site, and livestock farms handling animal waste.
156 SUPERFUND/STATE CLEANUP SITES
There are 4 active cleanup sites that are on the federal Superfund site list. Another 152 sites are prioritized for cleanup under a state program. Contaminated soils on sites in this category could be at risk of being disturbed by floodwaters.
60 REGULATED FACILITIES THAT STORE/TREAT HAZARDOUS WASTE
An additional 60 regulated facilities within EDR’s study area are known to store hazardous waste onsite. These include 54 large quantity waste generators that typically store waste in drums which have been displaced during other major flooding events like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Also included are 6 sites designated as Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facilities — final resting places for hazards created by large quantity generators.
24 FACILITIES THAT USE HAZARDOUS WASTE
EDR is also concerned with 24 facilities in the study area that are required to submit Risk Management Plans to the U.S. EPA, indicating that they use extremely hazardous substances that could cause toxic chemicals to be released into the environment.
79 LIVESTOCK FACILITIES
Of particular concern in the study area are the 79 facilities with animal operations permits, the majority of which are in Pender County, NC. Many of these are industrial-scale pork farms with the potential to release animal waste when flooded.
3 COAL ASH STORAGE FACILITIES
Last, there are 3 facilities that store coal ash generated by coal-burning power plants. The gray ash that remains after coal is burned contains potentially harmful amounts of mercury, arsenic and lead.
EDR is creating an open data layer on the areas that will likely be affected by Hurricane Florence in its event response center at http://edrnet.com/eventresponse/. This data is free and open for use by municipalities, first responders and media to support reporting on at-risk sites across the counties affected by Florence. In addition, EDR experts are available for explanation and commentary.
WHY IT MATTERS
The presence of sites with known contamination or with hazardous waste on-site pose potential risks to the public health and the environment after an event that causes extensive flooding. Superfund sites only tell part of the story. There are hundreds of other sites with contamination or hazardous materials on-site that may be disturbed by Florence’s floodwaters and could pose potential public health risks. In addition, within each study area there are sensitive receptors (e.g., schools and hospitals) with populations that may be exposed to contamination. It is critical that recovery efforts take into account these sources of known contamination/hazardous waste in order to minimize the impact on public health and the environment.
Questions may be directed to Dianne Crocker, Principal Analyst, EDR Insight at email@example.com. Phone: 203-843-5040.