Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Midwestern floodwaters tainted with sewage, pollution

Environment News Service: Raw sewage is flowing into rivers and streams across central and eastern Iowa as one after another wastewater facilities are inundated by the record floods that have swept the state during the past two weeks. Livestock manure is also part of the nasty mix, along with spilled fuel and chemicals, all heading to the flooding Mississippi River and down to the Gulf of Mexico.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is warning people to avoid contact with floodwater that may be contaminated with sewage or hazardous substances because exposure to the waste could transmit intestinal illnesses and skin infections. Do not wade, swim, or enter floodwaters and immediately wash hands and bare skin that comes in contact with floodwater with soap and hot water, health officials warn.

….The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been asked by FEMA to coordinate hazardous material and oil-related response in flooded areas throughout Iowa. The EPA will retrieve orphaned hazardous containers and drums, such as fuel and propane tanks, respond to chemical and oil releases, collect and dispose of flood-damaged household hazardous waste, and conduct monitoring and sampling of air and water. To report orphaned hazardous containers or chemical/oil releases, citizens should call the EPA Region 7 24-hour Response Line at (913) 281-0991.

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