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Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. HURRICANE IMPACTS ON LDEQ LABORATORY. Melvin C. Mitchell, LDEQ Environmental Laboratory Louisiana Water Environmental Association Wednesday, April 18, 2007 – 1:15 PM West Baton Rouge Conference Center, Port Allen, LA.

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Louisiana Department


Environmental Quality



Melvin C. Mitchell, LDEQ Environmental Laboratory

Louisiana Water Environmental Association

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 – 1:15 PM

West Baton Rouge Conference Center, Port Allen, LA

Deq emergency response operations

DEQ ER staff manned workspace at the State EOC around the

clock even before Katrina came ashore and for several months afterward.

Immediately following Katrina’s landfall, an Incident Management Team (IMT) began

assembling at DEQ HQ Galvez building. A Unified Command Center (UCC) was

established to house and support the IMT. UCC later moved to New Orleans.

Working from the UCC were DEQ, and representatives from EPA, TCEQ, COE,

USCG, USGS, LDHH, and local government.

An IMT and UCC was established at DEQ’s southwest regional office in Lake Charles following Hurricane Rita.

Reconnaissance damage environmental threats assessment

Railroad Cars

  • 2,500 affected by the hurricane

  • 250 derailed, no leaks

    Radiation Source Licensees

  • New Orleans area: 186 locations, 300 visits

  • Lake Charles area: 72 locations, 83 visits

    UST:558 inspections

    Remediation: 222 inspections

    Tier 2: 170 inspections

    Total: 950 inspections

Petroleum Product Sources in Katrina Flooded Area

Note: Does not include over 350,000 flooded vehicles.

Environmental sampling and assessment

Floodwater Pumped water

Sediment/soils Air

Particulates Biological tissues

Sample Points in the Lake Pontchartrain

and New Orleans Area

  • LDEQ maintains a network of nearly 700

    historical ambient monitoring locations statewide

  • Of these, 170 were in the 11 parish impacted and 69 were located in proximity to Lake Pontchartrain and New Orleans

  • 20 historical ambient sites were selected for LDEQ’s post-Katrina evaluation, additional sites were selected as access and need developed

  • 5 additional sites were established ½ mile off shore from major drainage canals of New Orleans

Parameters Analyzed

  • Metals#

    • Arsenic*

    • Cadmium*

    • Chromium*

    • Copper*

    • Lead*

    • Mercury*

    • Nickel*

    • Zinc*

  • Conventionals, Field

    • Dissolved Oxygen*

    • Temperature*

    • pH*

    • Salinity

    • Conductivity

    • Oil Sheen (presence or absence)*

*Has Louisiana water quality standards

#All sites analyzed for dissolved metals; two canal sites analyzed for total metals

Parameters analyzed continued

Conventionals, Laboratory

Fecal Coliform*




Total Suspended Solids

Total Solids

Total Dissolved Solids*

Biological Oxygen Demand

Parameters Analyzed(continued)

  • Alkalinity

  • Nitrate-Nitrite

  • Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen

  • Ammonia Nitrogen

  • Total Phosphorus

  • Hardness

  • Chemical Oxygen Demand

  • Total Organic Carbon

  • Color*

* Has Louisiana water quality standards

Pesticide analyses
Pesticide Analyses

  • LDEQ collected water samples for pesticide& PCB analyses

  • Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) analyzed samples

  • LDAF and LDEQ coordinated on the interpretation of this information

Pesticides analysis by louisiana department of agriculture and forestry

Alachlor (Lasso)





Carbaryl (Sevin)


Chlorpyrifos (Dursban)




Pesticides Analysis by Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry

  • Dieldrin*

  • Endosulfin*

  • Endrin*

  • Fipronil (and metabolites)

  • Heptachlor*

  • Lindane*

  • Malathion

  • Metolachlor (Dual)

  • + about 60 other pesticides…

* Has Louisiana water quality standards

Magnitude of ldeq laboratory analyses
Magnitude of LDEQ Laboratory Analyses:

  • Organic compounds – 325 samples (17,227 analytes)

  • Conventional parameters – 2365 samples (37,840 analytes)

  • Metals samples – 118 (531 analytes)

  • Radiation – 65 samples

  • Air samples – 791(52,206 analytes)

  • Total samples – 3,584 samples (106,388 analytes)

Summation of Hurricane Katrina


  • Dissolved oxygen levels were slightly depressed due to high organic loading, woody debris, downed vegetation or resuspended sediments

  • There were no reports of oil sheen on lake waters

  • Fecal coliform results were somewhat elevated.

  • This is normal after heavy rain.

  • There were no detectable concentrations of organic compounds along the causeway

Summation of Hurricane Katrina



  • Some elevated levels of metals were observed (arsenic, cadmium, lead, selenium, zinc), but not high enough to represent an immediate health threat.

  • • As of October 11th, 8.86 billion cubic feet (4.5%) of floodwater were pumped back into the lake.

  • Many if not all of the reported fish kills were the result of low DO.

  • There was one isolated report of oil sheen present on the Tchefuncte River

Summation of Hurricane Katrina



  • Floodwater discharge concentrations were compared to historical stormwater discharge monitoring reports (DMRs). Comparison of maximum results revealed very little difference between historical norms and post-Katrina levels

  • As expected, contamination by petroleum hydrocarbons, particularly in the Murphy Oil spill area. EPA and CDC expressed some

  • concern for long-term skin contact

  • No toxicity was observed in tests of fish

Storm debris management storm debris quantity estimates
STORM DEBRIS MANAGEMENT:Storm Debris Quantity Estimates

• Hurricane Katrina generated an estimated 22

million tons (55 million cubic yards) of debris.

• Hurricane Rita generated an estimated one-half

million tons (1 million cubic yards) of debris.




  • Refine hurricane preparedness plans and be ready

  • Establish 24 hour laboratory analytical capability

  • Regulatory flexibility is very important to emergency response and recovery

  • Good communications systems are vital to emergency response and damage assessment



PREPAREDNESS (continued)

  • Good communication and cooperation between public and private sector parties enhances preparation for and recovery from natural catastrophes

  • New remote sensing technologies are great tools for reconnaissance and damage assessment


  • AA Labs must maintain a paper copy listing of all accredited laboratories: individual/collective methods & contact info.

  • Labs must develop procedures to expedite purchase of equipment and procure loaner equipment from vendors.

  • Labs must identify a single point of contact for contacting vendors to determine if vendor facilities are operational. CAN NOT rely on land lines, cell phones, and e-mail. Alternative direct contact methods must be identified/utilized.


  • Labs must have a current list of employee contact information kept in a location known to all of management.

  • Lab must maintain a reproducible paper copy of lists of all current Demonstrations of Capabilities and all analysts/methods approved for the analyses.

  • Laboratory must have a single point of contact and 1 or 2 alternates assigned/present at the lab. Single point of contact for process must have a thorough knowledge thereof.


  • Adequate stores of required equipment, materials and supplies (ice chest, generators, fans, heaters, etc.) must be kept up to date and means to procured, store, must be available immediately.

  • Labs must develop a list of key personnel and identified one or two alternates for each position.

  • Management must be supportive of laboratory personnel and work to ensure a high level of morale during the stressful period.


  • Management must insure that the work load is distributed so as not to affect productivity, efficiency and safety within the laboratory.

  • All samples submitted directly to contract labs must be reported to the LDEQ Lab. Verification documents must be delivered to the LDEQ Lab NLT 24 hours after delivery to contract lab.

  • Chain-of-custody forms must be completed by the sample collector prior to turn-in at the laboratory. NO SAMPLES WILL BE ACCEPTED WITHOUT A COMPLETE CHAIN OF CUSTODY.


  • Labs must have adequate space to segregate samples/prevent cross-contamination

  • Labs must be able to communicate and coordinate with collectors

  • Lab must use aseptic sample handling techniques to insure safety and prevent cross-contamination. Management is responsible for providing directions on how samples are to be handled based on the degree of hazard associated with the sample.


  • Analytical results must be entered into the LIMS system promptly.

  • Labs must establish and maintain an 24-hour on-site liaison with LDEQ Emergency Operations staff (s).

  • Labs must maintain open lines of communications with other State agencies.


  • Department must establish a single/mandatory data and sample analysis report format.

  • Lab must constantly inventory glassware, standards, reagents and gases, and be prepared to expedite order and delivery.

  • Lab must have established security procedures which can be put into motion before, during and immediately after events.


  • Department must assign single data management contact who is knowledgeable of current and emerging data protocols, and capable of coordinating data transfer, consolidation, validation and verification efforts for the entire staff and other outside agencies.