Hurricane Florence’s Forecasted Path Includes About 9 Toxic Waste Sites

The EPA is monitoring Superfund sites in the event of flooding.

NOAA via Getty Images

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

This story was originally published by HuffPost. It appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The Environmental Protection Agency is monitoring nine hazardous waste sites in the Carolinas in the event that Hurricane Florence unleashes toxic chemicals.

“EPA Regions 3 and 4 are closely monitoring the projected path of Hurricane Florence,” an EPA spokesperson told HuffPost in a statement, adding that agency staff “are conducting the necessary response planning to support any requests from response partners that are related to potential discharge and/or releases of oil or hazardous materials.”

Sites in Virginia may be added over the coming hours or days. 

The EPA regularly monitors Superfund sites—areas where toxic waste has collected, posing health and environmental risks—that are expected to be targeted by hurricanes in the lead-up to the storms, but toxic waste has been known to seep out of these sites due to floods and rain.

Last year, for example, the agency wasn’t able to prevent waste from being released or the protective cap from being damaged at the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund site in Texas following major flooding during Hurricane Harvey, causing the spread of dioxins, environmental pollutants that can cause reproductive and developmental problems and cancer. The EPA announced a $115 million cleanup plan for the waste site in April.

“The coal-ash sites are very vulnerable to this hurricane and any other,” Frank Holleman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, told Bloomberg. “The risk is probably not that rain is going to fall into the pits. The risk is that land and water will compromise the dams.”

The storm, which is slated as a Category 4 but might strengthen to a Category 5, is expected to make landfall on Thursday morning. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency in both North and South Carolina, and the states’ governors ordered more than 1 million people to evacuate

Even if lives are spared, property and analytics firm CoreLogic warned that the storm will come with severe economic repercussions. The reconstruction costs for homes in the storm’s path could hit an estimated $170.2 billion.

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest