HSEES events involving evacuation response and nearby areas

Activities conducted to protect public health during hurricane-related events included health advisories (n=14) and environmental sampling (n=10). One building was evacuated because of a hurricane-related hazardous substances event; the evacuation lasted 2 hours. No response personnel were involved in 80 of the events; multiple types of responders responded to the remaining 165 events.

Personnel most frequently responding to hurricane-related events included company response teams (n=128) and hospitals or poison control centers (n=22). Other responders included fire departments (n=8), law enforcement officials (n=7), certified HazMat teams (n=5), third-party clean-up contractors (n=5), emergency medical services (n=4), environmental agencies (n=2), and departments of public works (n=1).

Most events (n=220) were contained inside the facility or within 200 feet of the release. The area impacted was missing for 19 events. In six events, the chemical extended beyond the facility and affected greater than 200 feet beyond the release. All of these events were in Louisiana, in predominately industrial areas with little or no residences, schools, daycare facilities, nursing homes, hospitals, or recreational parks within % mile of the release. Descriptions of these 6 incidents are as follows:

Event 1- Approximately 980 pounds of ammonia were released with 490 pounds of nitrogen oxides after a power failure caused by Hurricane Katrina at a nitrogen fertilizer manufacturer. The power failure resulted in a loss of refrigeration to the ammonia storage tanks. This caused an emergency release of ammonia to a flare. The ammonia was only partially combusted by the flare and thus formed the nitrogen oxides.

Event 2- Seven hundred fifty nine pounds of zinc bromide were released from storage tanks that were washed away from an oil and gas support operation during Hurricane Katrina. Event 3- Ten pounds of nitrogen oxide and 500 pounds of sulfur dioxide were released when a petroleum refinery shut down its plant in preparation for Hurricane Katrina and there was a release to the stack.

Event 4- A chemical product and preparation manufacturer released 270 pounds of ammonia and 75 pounds of nitrogen oxides when the ammonia storage tank routed to the flare after the compressors were shut down in preparation for Hurricane Katrina, thus causing a release of nitrogen oxides as a combustion product.

Event 5- Seven hundred eighty pounds of ammonia were released from a nitrogen fertilizer manufacturer when a power outage caused the loss of key monitoring equipment. The flare on the ammonia tank was blown out by the high winds sustained during Hurricane Rita.

Events 1-5 occurred in industrial areas with no nearby residences, nursing homes, schools, or daycare facilities.

Event 6- One thousand eighty two pounds of chlorine were released from an alkali and chlorine manufacturing plant when a power failure due to Hurricane Rita caused excess pressure in the chlorine tank. The tank had to be manually vented to reduce pressure and protect the tank integrity. Approximately 493 persons lived within % mile, and a licensed daycare center was within % mile of the release; no information was available about whether people were in the homes or daycare center when the release occurred.

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