EPA Hurricane Florence Update Thursday, September 13, 2018

EPA Office of Emergency Management Director Reggie EPA Office of Emergency Management Director Reggie Cheatham participates in a Hurricane Florence briefing at FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, September 13, 2018.

WASHINGTON (September 13, 2018) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is coordinating closely with local, state, and federal partners as the Agency continues to prepare for and plans to respond to the impact of Hurricane Florence. EPA On-Scene Coordinators (OSCs) are deployed to the State Emergency Operation Centers (SEOCs) in North Carolina and South Carolina and to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Regional Response Coordination Center in Atlanta to assist with Emergency Support Function (ESF) 10 for Oil and Hazardous Substances response efforts.

North Carolina: The North Carolina State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) is currently operating at Level 2 activation.

  • On September 11, 2018, EPA Acting Administrator Wheeler signed a fuel waiver for North Carolina. This waiver relieves the requirements to use summer blend fuel, is effective immediately, and continues until September 15, which is the end for the high ozone season. Additionally, a blending waiver was signed, which is effective immediately and continues through October 1.
  • At the state’s request, the EPA North Carolina out-posted On-Scene Coordinator began staffing the North Carolina SEOC ESF-10 desk on September 10.
  • A technical expert from the EPA Region 4 Water Division has been deployed to the North Carolina SEOC to support the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers for water/wastewater issues. The deployment is via a subtask under an ESF-3 mission assignment.
  • EPA has an initiated a call-down of Facility Response Plan facilities to verify pre-storm readiness in coastal counties of North Carolina.
  • Liaison Officers have been deployed to the North Carolina SEOC.
  • Today, an EPA ESF-3 liaison is expected to deploy to the North Carolina SEOC.

South Carolina: The South Carolina EOC is currently at Level 3 (Full ESF Activation 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) The EOC is evaluating whether they will increase to Level 2 (24-hour operations).

  • On September 11, 2018, EPA Acting Administrator Wheeler signed a fuel waiver for South Carolina. This waiver relieves the requirements to use summer blend fuel, is effective immediately, and continues until September 15, which is the end for the high ozone season. Additionally, a blending waiver was signed, which is effective immediately and continues through October 1.
  • EPA Region 4 received a request and began staffing the ESF-10 desk at the South Carolina EOC starting September 12 at 8 a.m.
  • EPA has an initiated a call-down of Facility Response Plan facilities to verify pre-storm readiness in coastal counties of South Carolina.
  • Liaison Officers have been deployed to the South Carolina EOC.

Region 4 Federally Recognized Tribes: Region 4 continues to coordinate with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

  • Catawba Indian Nation, Rock Hill, SC: The Catawba Indian Nation is preparing for the likelihood of impacts from Hurricane Florence.
  • Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), Cherokee, NC: As of today, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian Nation report that they do not have any immediate concerns.

ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS   

  • EPA has waived the federal Reid vapor pressure requirements for fuel sold in designated areas in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia to minimize problems with the supply of gasoline. EPA has also waived in these same states the prohibition on the blending of reformulated gasoline blendstock for oxygenated blending with other gasoline blendstock or oxygenate. EPA intends these waivers to assist in distributing fuel needed for voluntary and mandatory evacuations.
  • EPA has issued no action assurances as requested by North Carolina and South Carolina to help avoid delays in fuel distribution. EPA policy allows the Agency to issue no action assurances in cases where it is necessary to avoid extreme risks to public health and safety and where no other mechanism can adequately address the matter. Under these no action assurances, EPA will not pursue enforcement actions against tanker trucks under air quality regulations governing the testing for tank tightness and associated documentation.