Environmental issues may arise relating to shut-downs, start-ups, and upsets, as well as spills or releases from operating facilities in Texas relating to Harvey and the massive flooding that resulted. Many operating permits and authorizations require notification to TCEQ and/or EPA for force majeure events, such as floods and storms. Verbal notifications followed by written notifications are typically required. Operating entities should carefully review their permits and authorizations for applicable notification provisions and procedures. TCEQ also provides outreach and technical guidance to facilities reporting spills, including from sanitary sewers and other waste water facilities in flood-impacted areas.
As a response to Harvey, TCEQ has requested and Governor Gregg Abbott has signed on August 28, 2017, a disaster declaration temporarily suspending certain specified rules and regulations that could prevent, hinder or delay entities regulated by TCEQ in relation to Harvey’s disaster response operations. See: https://www.tceq.texas.gov/assets/public/response/hurricanes/Governor-response-to-suspension-of-rules.pdf and https://www.tceq.texas.gov/assets/public/response/hurricanes/suspension-of-tceq-rules-8.28.17.pdf.
EPA and TCEQ are notifying the public of potential hazards associated with flood waters, including bacteria and other disease agents. See: https://response.epa.gov/sites/12353/files/EPA%20Press%20Release%20EPA-TCEQ%20Statement%20on%20Water%20Quality%2008-31-2017%20.pdf.
Other useful information relating to environmental issues as well as guidance for response and cleanup following Harvey may be found on TCEQ’s Hurricane Response web page at: https://www.tceq.texas.gov/response/hurricanes.