Today the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued emergency administrative orders requiring two companies that have been providing water to businesses in New Orleans to stop delivery out of concern that the trucks may contain hazardous constituents.
EPA understands that the water is being shipped in trucks previously used in oil field operations or other commercial activities. The level of cleaning these trucks have undergone prior to conveying water is unknown, but suspected to be minimal. EPA is concerned that hazardous constituents, remaining from the trucks’ former use, may be mixing with water in the trucks at levels unsafe for human consumption.
The water is being piped directly from the truck tanks into the hotel plumbing systems or into on-site tanks and then pumped into the hotel plumbing systems for consumption by hotel guests and others. On Sunday, Oct. 2, EPA and Louisiana Department of Health met with a major New Orleans chain to urge caution in using potentially improper water handling services. The hotel took immediate action and no illnesses have been reported. The New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau also informed area business and hotels of possible improper water handling services operating in New Orleans.
The companies are BMS Catastrophe International, Inc. and Eagle Construction and Environmental Services, L.P. BMS has a corporate office at 303 Arthur Street, Fort Worth, Texas. Eagle has a business address of 10049 Industriplex Avenue, Gonzales, La., and a corporate office at 9701 East Interstate 20, Eastland, Texas.
The companies are ordered to immediately stop using any truck to convey water that was not designed and built specifically to convey food products, and has only ever carried food products, until such time as that truck has been tested and sampled to ensure no hazardous constituents remain in the truck to any degree beyond that allowed by federal law. The trucks may not be used to convey consumable water until EPA has approved the use of the trucks for that purpose.
The companies must also identify every truck under their control that is affected by EPA’s order and all parties who hauled water for them, including how much water they have transported and where it was taken.
The state of Louisiana requested that EPA pursue this matter because state resources are currently strained. More information about drinking water is available at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/dwhealth.html.