Agencies' 'Unified Command' Checking Drinking Water, Dams and Flooding
Refinery processing and fuel distribution augmented; 15 dams report damage; air monitoring systems being repaired; most drinking water systems are functional but 52 still shut down
As part of a coordinated effort for cleanup after Hurricane Harvey, regulatory agencies are cooperating in what they call a "unified command," with three branches set up in Port Arthur, Houston and Corpus Christi.
The agencies attempting to synchronize their work at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), The Texas General Land Office, the US Enviornmental Protection Agency and the US Coast Guard, working with several other related agencies such as the Texas National Guard, the 6th Civil Support Team and the Texas State Guard Engineering Group, along with some out of state agencies.
The aim is to as quickly as possible cover the wide area that's suffered since the hurricane, according to the TCEQ, sampling water for contaminants and specific chemicals, while keeping tabs on air quality, especially in areas near refineries and chemical plants.
In its most recent report, the TCEQ said its air monitoring network is fully functional in the Corpus Christi area, while 88% of it is working in the Houston area and 71% in Beaumont.
While the systems are expected to be functioning fully be end of this week, there have been no reports of health concerns by pollutants in the air as a result of the storm.
Regarding refineries, the Unified Command said that in addition to gasoline waivers for 38 states and D.C. and diesel waivers for Texas, the EPA has now signed three No Action Assurance letters on Sept. 1 to help address fuel shortages. The NAA letters will help expedite the distribution of existing gasoline supplies to both Texas and Louisiana, while the refineries work to re-start and resume normal operations.
"The diesel waivers and NAA letters are effective until Sept. 15 and should allow for the distribution of fuel to consumers in Texas. The EPA recently reissued the gasoline waivers for the maximum time allowed under the Clean Air Act through late September, and the TCEQ will work with the EPA to extend these waivers through October 1st. The TCEQ is currently evaluating whether the NAA letters and diesel waivers need to be reissued and has discussed possible reissuance with the EPA."
The TCEQ does call for precautions to be taken by those attempting to clean any property that may have been exposed to flood waters because of possible contaminants.
The TCEQ says it's still assessing the shape of dams, with 15 of the 340 dams in areas affected by Harvey reporting at least some damage.
The Unified Command team said Friday that most of the 2,238 drinking water systems affected by the hurricane are back to operational status, but 52 are still closed down and 161 are still on boil-water status.
By Mike Shiloh
Copyright September 11, 2017, Mike Shiloh, Texas Energy Report LLC, www.texasenergyreport.com, All rights are reserved