DHS S&T Provides Critical Chemical Hazard Support as Gulf Coast Braces for Major Storm

Less than three weeks after Hurricane Laura caused widespread damage in Louisiana, the Gulf Coast is preparing for another major storm. With Hurricane Sally expected to make landfall on Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) Chemical Security Analysis Center (CSAC) is providing critical chemical hazard support.

In preparation for Sally’s landfall, CSAC is researching and identifying chemical facilities in the storm’s predicted path, based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Risk Management Plan (RMP) database, Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) Chemical Security Assessment Tool (CSAT), and latitude and longitude information. CSAC is proactively analyzing any chemical plants that conduct processes particularly susceptible to chemical release resulting from building damage, loss of power or process monitoring. This type of analysis is based on past experiences, such as the Crosby, Texas, chemical plant fire caused by damage from hurricane Harvey in 2015.

This information will be made available to the FEMA/Interagency Modeling and Atmospheric Assessment Center (IMAAC) managed by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Technical Reachback Center, as well as the Joint Task Force – Civil Support Team (CST).  CSAC will be on standby to provide chemical hazard assessments based on damage to chemical facilities, chemical surface transport, or piping systems.

CSAC recently conducted similar efforts for Hurricane Laura. Following the storm’s landfall on August 27, FEMA/IMAAC and CST representatives contacted CSAC about a chemical fire and a report of a potential chlorine release at Biolab in Lake Charles, Louisiana. CSAC confirmed that BioLab was a major producer of trichloroisocyanuric acid, which requires chlorine gas for production. This helped IMAAC provide accurate modeling results. Upon receiving the modeling product from IMAAC, CSAC immediately forwarded the report to CST technical leads to support emergency response efforts.

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