As Hurricane Michael makes landfall, regulators must brace for the storm’s impact on hazardous waste sites that are dotted across the Gulf Coast.
Hurricane Michael — a Category 4 storm — is due to barrel down on Florida’s panhandle Wednesday. It will be the most powerful hurricane to hit the region on record, according to weather officials.
“This is an unprecedented event as there are no Category 4 storms on record to have made landfall along the Florida Panhandle coast,” the National Weather Service said in a statement. The hurricane carries maximum sustained winds of 145 mph and could bring heavy rainfall and a massive storm surge — as much as 12 feet in parts of northwestern Florida. (RELATED: Michael Will Be The Strongest Storm On Record To Hit Florida’s Panhandle, Officials Warn)
As the nation braces for Michael, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will monitor the region’s Superfund sites — areas that contain hazardous chemicals and are specifically designated for cleanup. Various toxic substances can be found in Superfund sites, such as lead, mercury and arsenic. Heavy rains and flooding could wash these contaminants to the outside environment.
Florida alone has over 50 Superfund sites ranked at the highest priority — at least five of these sites sit on the state’s panhandle. Numerous other hazardous waste sites sit across Hurricane Michael’s path in southern Alabama and Georgia.
Environmental groups have already sounded the alarm on the potential danger.
“If they even get Category 1-strength winds, it could hit the Superfund sites. It’s something we’re going to look at,” Sierra Club Florida chapter director Frank Jackalone stated to ThinkProgress.
“There are dozens of Superfund hazardous waste sites in states potentially affected by Hurricane Michael,” read a report from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund. “There are 53 Superfund National Priorities List sites in Florida; 38 in North Carolina, 26 in South Carolina and 16 in Georgia.”
The EPA did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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