Response to Natural and Man Made Disasters Impacting Louisiana


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By  Wilma Subra     
Subra Company     
Louisiana Environmental Action Network

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Response to Natural and Man Made Disasters Impacting Louisiana

  1. 1. By Wilma Subra Subra Company Louisiana Environmental Action Network
  2. 2.       2005, August 29 - Hurricane Katrina - 20 - 30 foot storm surge 2005, September 24 - Hurricane Rita - 15 foot storm surge 2008, April - Mississippi River Flood - Bonnet Carre’ Spillway opened to protect New Orleans, Atchafalaya River flooded 2008 Very large Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana and Texas caused by nutrient runoff loading from fertilizers applied in the mid west 2008, July 23 - #6 fuel oil spill in the Mississippi River in New Orleans, drinking water intakes along the river shut down, 100 miles of damage and destruction down river below New Orleans
  3. 3.  2008, September 1 - Hurricane Gustav - 12 foot storm surge  2008, September 12 - Hurricane Ike - 15 foot storm surge  2010, April 20 - BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster  2011 Spring - Mississippi and Atchafalaya river flooding, Bonnet Carre’ and Morganza spillways opened  2012, September 29 - Hurricane Isaac -detrimental impact to southeast Louisiana  These Natural and Man Made Disasters have resulted in extensive and severe environmental, human health and economic impacts to communities in Louisiana
  4. 4.  Immediately responded to aerosol air emissions impacted coastal communities as far inland as 100 miles along the coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the pan handle of Florida  Worked to protect the health of fishermen who worked for BP as clean up workers  Federal Court on May 2 - to insure cleanup workers did not loose their rights  Federal Court on May 7 - to require BP to provide proper training and protective gear to cleanup workers
  5. 5.  LEAN began giving out protective gear to fishermen working as cleanup workers  The fishermen, their families and other cleanup workers were not allowed to speak up  Marylee Orr and I became the voice of fishermen/cleanup workers  This occurred in 2010 and 2011 and it was and still is not acceptable for workers to be made sick in a work place environment
  6. 6.       Conducted workshops throughout the entire northern Gulf coast to provide desperately needed information Monitored the EPA air monitoring programs and recommended new locations for monitoring stations Developed fact sheets on health impacts associated with the BP crude and dispersants used Worked with Federal and State agencies to protect the health of community members and cleanup workers Collected sediment/soil, oysters, shrimp, crabs, fish, etc. samples and analyzed for BP crude and dispersant components Issued e-alert reports immediately when data became available
  7. 7.     Monitored the environmental impacts along the coastal areas Monitored the health impacts and conducted health surveys of the impacts on human health being experienced by coastal residents, current and former cleanup workers and tourist Evaluated volatile organic chemicals in blood of cleanup workers and community members who were and are very ill Conducted workshops all along the coastal areas of the Gulf, presenting results of sampling, monitoring and health surveys  Evaluated contaminants in seafood over time at designated locations  Opened a clinic to specifically treat victims of the BP Disaster   Continuing on a daily basis to respond to request by community members for information and assistance
  8. 8.  Communities are negatively impacted by environmental hazards particularly from disasters ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦  sediment sludge washed on shore by hurricanes hazardous materials leaked or spilled by hurricanes and flooding flood waters carried contaminants oil spills contaminated aquatic and terrestrial flora and fauna Communities experience numerous, severe and wide spread physical and mental health impacts and degradation of their quality of life caused by the cumulative impacts of a host of different chemicals and stressors associated with disasters  Many communities in Louisiana have differential preparedness and ability to recover from exposure to disasters  The lack of adequate health care throughout the state of Louisiana also results in a decreased ability to recover  All of these factors result in decreased community resilience
  9. 9.      Providing health and scientific information to communities enables community members to become educated and empowered Results in communities being educated about factors impacting their health and quality of life Allows the communities to integrate the knowledge into their specific community situations and develop strategies to recover Allows communities to educate governmental agencies, elected officials, business owners, health care providers and the general public concerning their specific situations Allows communities to take measures to reduce their exposure, improve human health and their quality of life, reduce risk, recover and become more resilient
  10. 10.  What odors are you smelling  How long did the odor event last  What health impacts are you experiencing  How long did the health impacts last  How many individuals in your household were impacted  Loss work time due to event  Impacts on pets and livestock  What is the source or potential source of the odor  Date, time, duration and location of the event  Wind speed and direction from TV Weather Channel
  11. 11.  Immediate and ongoing documentation of odor events and associated health impacts  Record of frequency of events  Possible correlation with chemical release events occurring in the community  A good base of information to determine if and which health symptoms are being experienced  Determine if sufficient impacts are being experienced to indicate a health survey would be appropriate
  12. 12.      Check with the parish Office of Emergency Response, LA DEQ EDMS data base, and National Response Center to determine if an accidental release has been reported for the time period of the odor event Determine the health impacts of chemicals that may have been released Correlate the health impacts associated with the chemical released to the health impacts experienced by community members Use the data from accidental releases to determine specific chemicals to monitor for in the air and water Use the data to request governmental agencies to provide ambient monitoring and/or to include requirements in the facility permit conditions
  13. 13.    In August 2006, the NEJAC Council issued the report: The 2005 Gulf Coast Hurricanes and Vulnerable Populations - Recommendations for Future Disaster Preparedness/Response The Gulf Coast Hurricane Work Group of NEJAC was formed in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (Chaired by Wilma Subra) The charge to the work group dealt with identifying effective methods for EPA to address vulnerabilities of all communities to protect health and environmental risks and harms in EPA’s response and rebuilding, and preparedness and prevention efforts in the aftermath of natural disasters similar to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
  14. 14.    Enhance EPA’s disaster preparedness and response procedures Facilitate risk communications and environmental health response Foster environmental sound redevelopment
  15. 15.   Identify vulnerable populations and their environmental and/or public health needs Ensure communication with, and input from, vulnerable populations in both the development and implementation of new disaster response procedures
  16. 16.   By November 2, 2006, EPA had responded to several of the recommendations by issuing a memorandum entitled "Incorporating Environmental Justice Considerations into EPA Disaster Preparedness Response Procedures When Hurricanes Gustav and Ike struck the northern gulf coast in September 2008, the recommendations and follow up activities were responsible for improved responses in dealing with vulnerable populations
  17. 17.  Survey of commercial fisher families harvesting seafood from the coastal areas and off shore and seafood processing facilities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida consisting of Vietnamese, Cambodians, Asians, Islanos, African Americans, Native Americans, and Caucasians
  18. 18. Rank Event #1 2010 BP Crude Oil Disaster #2 September 2005 Hurricane Rita #3 August 2005 Hurricane Katrina #4 September 2008 Hurricane Gustav #5 September 2008 Hurricane Ike The fisher families reported loosing up to $80,000 to $530,000 as a result of each disaster. The seafood processors reported loosing up to $100,000 to $2,500,000 for each disaster.
  19. 19.   The commercial fisher families and seafood processors have been negatively impacted by the hurricanes of 2005 and 2008 and severely impacted by the BP Crude Oil Disaster. The fisher families surveyed projected the negative impacts associated with the BP Crude Oil Disaster will last 30 years into the future.  The seafood processors estimate the negative impacts will last 12 to 20 years into the future.  Fishermen surveyed estimate 60 to 70% loss in the quantity of seafood harvested in the next 10 years.  Work has continued with these fisher families and seafood processors to assist in their recovery.
  20. 20.  University/Community Based Participatory Research  Fishing Communities in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama  The fishing communities partners are trained to ◦ collect seafood samples of brown and white shrimp, blue crabs, oysters and fin fish (red snapper, grouper, mackerel, speckled trout) ◦ process and package seafood samples for shipment to the lab at UTMB in Texas ◦ record data ◦ document with photos
  21. 21.      Seafood samples are analyzed for petrogenic Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) suspected of causing adverse effects including immunosuppression, developmental abnormalities and cancer Sample results are presented first to the fishing community partners that collected the samples, then to all the community partners before being released to the general public and for publication The sample results are presented in the form of quantity of seafood of each species and collection location that can be consumed on a frequency basis by age group without resulting in increased risk. The results presented in this fashion allows the community partners to make decisions on where to collect seafood that they will feed to their families and how frequently they will provide the seafood for consumption by their families. These fishing community partners are know to consume above average amounts of gulf seafood and are in desperate need of information on the safety of the seafood they harvest and feed to their families.
  22. 22.  Information and knowledge is important to the level of resilience in communities  Data must always be backed up by technical information  Information must be incorporated into the issues and situations in the impacted communities    Assistance provided to communities must work towards improving human health, environmental quality and quality of life in the communities The information and knowledge must also be used to educate and inform a broader base of stakeholders - ultimately result in improvements in the overall community members Responding to the needs of the environmental communities must occur in a timely manner
  23. 23.     Frequently response continues even when recovery is taking place In some cases restoration activities are targeted in areas that are still contaminated and remediation is not being targeted prior to restoration activities Destruction of Quality of Life for many communities, leaves the communities with no way to recover, especially in areas where the land on which they lived is now open water Resilience is critical to recovery and survival on behalf of not only the impacted community members, but the responders, governmental agencies, businesses and the NGO communities