Task Force Works Quietly to Clean Up Katrina Mess

While the political turmoil over who did what after Hurricane Katrina goes on, a task force made up of nearly a dozen federal and state agencies continues working quietly to clean up the environmental mess Katrina left behind.

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Everyone knows about the massive property damage Hurricane Katrina caused, but not so well known is the environmental threat from oil and other hazardous materials on private property, and in hundreds of boats that were swept inland by the storm. Coast Guard Lt. Commander and cleanup task force coordinator Jim Elliott says the worst areas are in Mississippi and Alabama. Many of the boats are now sitting high and dry hundreds of yards inland.

This is the mess a multi-agency task force of environmental response experts has been working to clean up since the day the storm hit. Elliott says they've gathered up more than ten thousand containers of hazardous materials, such as oil drums, fuel tanks and batteries from the grounded and displaced boats, along with 43 thousand gallons of fuel.

The task force is made up of ten agencies, including the Coast Guard, the EPA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Interior Department, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and several state agencies from Alabama and Mississippi. Elliott says it was created in 1972, when Congress passed the Clean Water Act, and all the member agencies have been working together cleaning up after storms and other disasters ever since. More information.

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