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OR&R Working with FEMA, Coast Guard, and EPA on Hurricane Pollution Response
Sailboats askew by the edge of a marsh.
Grounded vessels in Florida.

SEPTEMBER 22, 2017--NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) is providing scientific support and assessment of pollution in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Areas of focus are south Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). Scientific staff are providing on-scene support in Miami and remote support to Puerto Rico and the USVI. Deployment to Puerto Rico and ​USVI was delayed by the onset of Hurricane Maria. Principal tasks include vessel and hazardous waste identification in marine waters, sensitive habitat and species mapping, and prescribing best practices for environmental protection during vessel and hazmat removal operations. 

OR&R also has had staff working at FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C. for agency level coordination support and the State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee, Florida.

ERMA®, the NOAA Environmental Response Management Application, is an online mapping tool that integrates both static and real-time data. It provides a common operational picture of events for the USCG, NOAA, and other responders. Aerial imagery from NOAA National Geodetic Survey (NGS) flight missions over the affected areas is being added to ERMA Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean ERMA as soon as it is available.

The NOAA Marine Debris Program is supporting recovery efforts by coordinating information being collected on marine debris, including that of grounded or sunk vessels, orphan containers, household hazardous waste, and general structural debris. OR&R is updating the NGS aerial images with vessel and debris identification data, then adding to ERMA. These maps are now complete for the Florida Keys, with Miami-Dade County and USVI survey analyses in progress.

For further information:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

NOAA National Hurricane Center