Superfund sites in potential path of Hurricane Sally

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Torrential rainfall could flood sites, cause major problems

U.S. PIRG, Environment America, and Frontier Group

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — As Hurricane Sally drenches the Gulf Coast with staggering amounts of rain, Environment America, U.S. PIRG and Frontier Group — all part of the Public Interest Network — are sharing information that will help your readers and viewers contextualize what’s going on with regard to major environmental and health concerns.

The slow-moving storm is expected to make landfall Tuesday evening, September 15, or Wednesday morning. A live map showing the path of Hurricane Sally as well as nearby proposed and listed Superfund National Priority Sites is available at this link

Flooding of sites full of chemicals and fossil fuels could result in toxic substances finding their way into flood waters and nearby communities. For example, after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, more than 190,000 barrels of oil spilled in Louisiana, and during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, 40 sites released hazardous pollutants. This contamination persists in the environment for years, hurting human and environmental health.

Additionally, Hurricane Sally’s heavy rains and lethargic pace are a dangerous combination that can lead to sewage overflows into our waterways. Over the course of the last several years we have seen how an afternoon summer storm can inundate our stormwater and sewage water treatment facilities, resulting in sewage spills and burst pipes. Sally has already reportedly caused several overflows as it traveled up the west coast of Florida.

The following experts from across the Public Interest Network are available to provide quotes and background for your coverage:

Oil and gas pipelines, industrial toxic sites and other water pollution:
John Rumpler, [email protected], runs Environment America’s clean water campaign. He directs our work to protect our rivers, lakes, streams and drinking water. He has co-authored several research reports, including the recent Accidents Waiting to Happen: Toxic threats to our rivers, lakes and streams. John has also testified before Congress on enforcement of clean water laws. His current efforts include defending the Clean Water Act, curbing pollution from factory farms, and working to “Get the Lead Out” of drinking water. He’s appeared on camera for CBS This Morning, among other outlets. He’s also been interviewed by such outlets as U.S. News and World Report, Bloomberg and WebMD.

Superfund sites:
Jillian Gordner, [email protected] is the U.S. PIRG Zero Out Toxics Campaign Associate, working on funding the EPA Superfund program. Jillian’s areas of expertise include Superfund sites, the CERCLA (Superfund) bill, and the increasing danger posed by hurricanes and tropical storms to Superfund sites.

The connection between global warming and hurricanes:
Andrea McGimsey, [email protected], is the senior director of the national Global Warming Solutions Campaign for Environment America. Prior to her current role, she served on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, where she led local efforts to address climate change. She has served on the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Board of Directors, the Executive Committee of Climate Communities, and the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association. In addition, she has authored articles on global warming and sustainability, and was the recipient of the Climate Leadership Award from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

Florida impact:
Jenna Stevens, [email protected], is the state director for Environment America’s affiliate Environment Florida. In her role, Jenna promotes clean air, clean water, clean energy and open spaces in Florida through grassroots organizing and direct advocacy. Jenna has worked to defend federal and state climate and clean water protections, expand clean, renewable energy in Florida and protect the Florida coastline from offshore drilling. She also serves as the water team co-chair for the Everglades Coalition. Jenna has been quoted widely both on-camera and in print articles. She has spoken extensively to the media on these and other environmental topics.

Check out our hurricane resources archive for more information.