News Feature | October 3, 2017

517 Containers Of Unknown Chemicals Among Leak Concerns Following Harvey

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga, Associate Editor, Water Online

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Latest on the list of water quality fallout from Hurricane Harvey: hundreds of containers of mysterious, potentially dangerous material found to have escaped and possibly to have contaminated the environment.

As of last week, the U.S. EPA had announced that it recovered the containers, but details were unknown about what they contained or whether or not they had leaked into drinking water sources.

“The Environmental Protection Agency says it has recovered 517 containers of ‘unidentified, potentially hazardous material’ from highly contaminated toxic waste sites in Texas that flooded last month during Hurricane Harvey,” per The Dallas Morning News.

It subsequently came to light that these containers did not come from a single location, but were a collection of free-floating one offs.

“EPA now says the hundreds of containers of chemical had not come from Superfund sites, but were ‘orphans’ found floating in waterways or washed up after the floods had receded,” eported KCENTV.

Still, there has been much reason for concern around the amount of chemical material that was potentially released during Harvey, from which the Houston area and others are still recovering. For instance, employees at an Oil Recovery Superfund site reported unknown materials spilling in unknown amounts. It has been a Herculean effort to clean up all of the potentially dangerous material that has leaked.

“As part of the post-storm cleanup, workers have vacuumed up 63 truckloads of potentially contaminated storm water, totaling about 315,000 gallons,” according to The Dallas Morning News. “It was not immediately clear whether those truckloads accounted for any of the 517 containers cited in the FEMA media release on Friday.”

To read more about fallout from Hurricane Harvey visit Water Online’s Stormwater Management Solutions Center.

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