Called "orphan drums," the containers may contain chemicals, industrial products or unknown substances. Their owners are not identifiable.
Specialists from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard, in coordination with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, will begin inspecting six parishes where drums have been reported: Jefferson, Lafourche, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany and Terrebonne. Other parishes could be added to the mission if orphan drums are reported there. The mission is expected to last no more than 60 days.
"This is one way the state and federal government are ensuring the safety of Louisianians after the hurricane," said FEMA's Federal Coordinating Officer Gerard M. Stolar. "Getting these containers picked up and properly disposed of is another step in the state's recovery."
Following hurricanes, orphan drums commonly are found scattered throughout the affected area. They may be in yards, fields and alongside roadways and coastlines. Orphan drums may be leaking unknown substances and contaminating local air, water and soil.
Anyone who discovers an orphan drum should report it to parish officials. Residents should not touch, move or open the containers as the contents may be under pressure.
Once a drum is retrieved, specialists will assess the containers to determine whether the contents are hazardous. Orphan drums containing hazardous materials will be shipped to hazardous waste facilities.
For more information on Louisiana disaster recovery, click www.fema.gov/disaster/4080 or www.gohsep.la.gov. You can follow FEMA on Twitter at www.twitter.com/femaregion6 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FEMA. Also visit our blog at www.fema.gov/blog.