Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Response
To support the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Tetra Tech provided emergency response services for environmental emergencies resulting from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the subsequent flooding in New Orleans in 2005. During the early stages of response activities, Tetra Tech mobilized emergency responders with first-hand knowledge of the area to assist with search-and-recovery operations and to collect crucial information for preplanning environmental assessment and response strategies. For several months, Tetra Tech deployed as many as 65 responders to the affected states and had a reserve pool of about 150 responders on standby.
Tetra Tech responders:
- Supported search-and-rescue operations
- Set up and operated a mobile command post and staffed incident command posts
- Assessed damage and performed removal actions
- Assessed environmental impacts
- Provided specialized personnel to reestablish an air quality monitoring system throughout the New Orleans metropolitan area
- Assessed operational status of treatment systems at affected Superfund remedial sites
- Surveyed hospitals, clinics, and oil field yards to verify that radioactive sources were secured and intact
- Surveyed water and wastewater treatment plants to verify status and assess damage
One of the most challenging activities performed during the hurricane response involved searching for and recovering orphaned containers, household hazardous wastes, and electronic wastes. The storm surge transported these types of waste from commercial, industrial, and residential areas and dispersed them over wide and often inaccessible areas, including sensitive wetland areas. Tetra Tech coordinated with EPA on-scene coordinators and personnel from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Strike Force. Tetra Tech personnel used electronic data-gathering devices such as PDAs and our own FAST system to provide near real-time management of ongoing efforts at remote command centers and to create high-quality maps. Thousands of orphaned containers, hazardous materials debris, and electronic wastes were collected and disposed of properly.