Hurricane Michael Makes Landfall

EDR’s Environmental Impact Summary Sheet Identifies 33 Sites of Interest

Hurricane Michael, a fast-moving Category 4 storm with fierce winds of 155 miles per hour, is unleashing its power on a swatch of the Florida Panhandle spanning 300 miles. Notably, it is the biggest storm ever to hit this region with record storm surges, destructive winds, and flooding rain expected. What makes Hurricane Michael unique is its speed—amounting to an extremely powerful, fast-moving storm over a sparsely populated region of coastal towns, Gulf Coast estuaries, national forest, and military bases.

EDR conducted a storm impact analysis to shed light on the types of potential environmental risks in Hurricane Michael’s area of impact. Of particular interest are any sites with known environmental contamination or operations involving petroleum products, chemicals, and other types of hazardous waste that could be disturbed by floodwaters.

EDR Study Area

The study area of impact for Hurricane Michael spans from Eglin Air Force Base east to Tallahassee, comprising 15 counties. Given the rural nature of the area, it is not surprising that three of the counties in the study area did not have any locations of interest. The following 12 counties within the study area had sites with potential environmental risk: Bay, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Wakulla and Walton counties.  

Hurricane Michael’s Path Includes 33 Sites of Concern

Based on an analysis of EDR’s collection of property risk data in the defined study area along the Florida Panhandle, EDR is most concerned with these types of sites that may pose environmental risk in the wake of Hurricane Michael:

  • 2 Federal Superfund/NPL sites
  • 5 sites in the Florida state cleanup program
  • 27 facilities  that store/treat hazardous waste
  • 7 sites designated as Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facilities

* Note that certain sites may appear in multiple categories (e.g., a site in a state cleanup program may also be included as a facility that stores/treats hazardous waste.)

Superfund/State Cleanup Sites

There are two active cleanup sites in the area of impact that are on the federal Superfund site list, including the United Metals, Inc. (UMI) site where a battery reclaiming facility operated from 1979 until 1991. Another five sites are prioritized for cleanup under the Florida state cleanup program. Contaminated soils on sites in this category could be at risk of being disturbed by floodwaters.

Regulated Facilities that Store/Treat Toxic Waste

An additional 27 regulated facilities within EDR’s study area are known to store hazardous chemicals and petroleum products onsite. These include 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 seven records at sites designated as Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facilities — final resting places for hazards created by large quantity generators.

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. In addition to the two Superfund sites, EDR’s analysis identifies more than 30 other sites with known contamination or hazardous materials on-site that may be disturbed by Michael’s floodwaters and could pose potential public health risks.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

EDR created an open data layer on the areas that were likely be affected by Hurricane Michael in its Event Response Center. 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 Michael.

MEDIA INQUIRIES
EDR experts are available for explanation and commentary. Questions may be directed to:

Dianne Crocker, Principal Analyst, EDR Insight

dcrocker@edrnet.com

Phone: 203-843-5040