When hurricanes hit, there is a great risk that the thousands of chemicals we Americans store in houses and garages will end up in waterways. These include pesticides, paints and coatings, fuels and oils, cleaning materials including surfactants, pool treatment chemicals.\r\n\r\nI found a CD with the attached photographs of one of our 5 field sites for collection and management of waste chemicals. It gives some idea of the scope of the mess.\r\n\r\nI worked for the USEPA as a field chemist (Hazardous Waste Transportation and Delivery Coordinator) assisting in the collection, \"haz-catting\" (spot identification), manifesting and disposal of 2 million containers of household hazardous waste. I am a career environmental scientist with decades at State and Federal regulatory agencies as a technical contractor.\r\n\r\nWe worked 7 days a week, frequently putting in 15 hour days. We then commuted up to 5 hours to nearby Baton Rouge in order to free hotels for local people. The work was dangerous, exhausting, physical and emotionally and intellectually demanding. Wereceived marginal compensation, as wages were capped under emergency rules. I worked with an outstanding team of spirited and energetic laborers (may people of color in need of work in this stricken area) and dedicated professionals of every race and background.\r\n\r\nWe saw the terrible damage and suffering of the victims up close every day, and our urge to use our technical skills to clean up this loose end for them kept us going. I will never forget the sight of clothing in the trees near St. Bernard, where the waterline was.\r\n\r\nThis is one time in my life I really felt like I made a difference with my technical skills.\r\n\r\nWe also collected thousands of barrels of offshore chemicals washed into Louisiana waterways. This is one area in which I feel the government response was strong and capable and timely, and I am proud to have been associated with it.

Citation

“[Untitled],” Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, accessed June 27, 2022, https://hurricanearchive.org/items/show/42013.

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