ARLINGTON, Va., April 19 (UPI) — A National Science Foundation-funded study suggests Hurricane Katrina caused more than 200 onshore releases of hazardous materials along the Gulf Coast.
The researchers — including Nicholas Santella and Laura Steinberg of Syracuse University and Hatice Sengul of the Turkish Scientific and Technological Research Council — said they used data from the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Response Center Incident Reporting Information System.
They said they found about 8 million gallons of petroleum releases were reported as a result of Katrina hitting the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005 — mostly due to storage tank failure and the restart of production processes.
The scientists said many refineries and other facilities shut down in anticipation of large storms to minimize damage. However, shutdowns and their subsequent restarts can lead to large emissions of volatile organic compounds and other chemicals.
“More attention should be given to planning for shutdowns, including coordination with government entities responsible for evacuation, and to plant startup after an emergency shutdown in order to minimize burning off excess gas by flaring and other releases,” the researchers said.
The study — the first to comprehensively analyze the releases from onshore industrial facilities that resulted from Hurricane Katrina — is reported in the journal Risk Analysis.
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