Sunday, September 11, 2005

Cover Up



I mentioned to several people last week that Katrina's environmental impact was not being reported yet.

Here is the first one.

Cover-up:
toxic waters 'will make New Orleans unsafe for a decade'
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Correspondent
Published: 11 September 2005

Toxic chemicals in the New Orleans flood waters will make the city unsafe for full human habitation for a decade, a US government official has told The Independent on Sunday.

And, he added, the Bush administration is covering up the danger.

In an exclusive interview, Hugh Kaufman, an expert on toxic waste and responses to environmental disasters at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said the way the polluted water was being pumped out was increasing the danger to health.

The pollution was far worse than had been admitted, he said, because his agency was failing to take enough samples and was refusing to make public the results of those it had analysed. "Inept political hacks" running the clean-up will imperil the health of low-income migrant workers by getting them to do the work.

His intervention came as President Bush's approval ratings fell below 40 per cent for the first time. Yesterday, Britain's Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, turned the screw by criticising the US President's opposition to the Kyoto protocol on global warming.

He compared New Orleans to island nations such as the Maldives, which are threatened by rising sea levels. Other US sources spelt out the extent of the danger from one of America's most polluted industrial areas, known locally as "Cancer Alley". The 66 chemical plants, refineries and petroleum storage depots churn out 600m lb of toxic waste each year. Other dangerous substances are in site storage tanks or at the port of New Orleans.

No one knows how much pollution has escaped through damaged plants and leaking pipes into the "toxic gumbo" now drowning the city.

Mr Kaufman says no one is trying to find out.

He said the clean-up needed to be "the most massive public works exercise ever done", adding: "It will take 10 years to get everything up and running and safe."

He said the water being pumped out of the city was not being tested for pollution and would damage Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi river, and endanger people using it downstream. "

In the meantime, there is this story about how evacuees were turned back to the hell they were trying to walk out of by the police.

And FEMA is blocking photograhers from taking pictures.

Update. This policy has been reversed

And Joe Albaugh, former FEMA boss and Bush cronie is cleaning up,

cleaning up.

For some reason, this pop song came into my mind.

Before the Deluge

Some of them were dreamers
And some of them were fools
Who were making plans and thinking of the future
With the energy of the innocent
They were gathering the tools
They would need to make their journey back to nature

While the sand slipped through the opening
And their hands reached for the golden ring
With their hearts they turned to each other's hearts for refuge
In the troubled years that came before the deluge

Some of them knew pleasure
And some of them knew pain
And for some of them it was only the moment that mattered
And on the brave and crazy wings of youth
They went flying around in the rain
And their feathers, once so fine, grew torn and tattered

And in the end they traded their tired wings
For the resignation that living brings
And exchanged love's bright and fragile glow
For the glitter and the rouge
And in a moment they were swept before the deluge

Let the music keep our spirits high
Let the buildings keep our children dry
Let creation reveal its secrets by and by, by and by
When the light that's lost within us reaches the sky

Some of them were angry
At the way the earth was abused
By the men who learned how to forge her beauty into power
And they struggled to protect her from them
Only to be confused
By the magnitude of her fury in the final hour

And when the sand was gone and the time arrived
In the naked dawn only a few survived
And in attempts to understand a thing so simple and so huge
Believed that they were meant to live after the deluge

Let the music keep our spirits high
Let the buildings keep our children dry
Let creation reveal it's secrets by and by, by and by
When the light that's lost within us reaches the sky

Jackson Browne

*

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picture provided by JG

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

when the light that's lost between us reaches the sky.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is there so much toxicity in the NO flood aftermath? No one has elucidated on possible sources of this polution, only that it's a fact. Is there anything specific to NO that isn't present in other places that have flooded? Raw sewage decomposes over time so it doesn't seem that would have effects that could last a decade. I'd like to know more about this.
FM

1:24 PM  
Blogger OZ said...

FM, it has to do with the 66 chemical plants, refineries, etc in the area. New Orleans is the hub of the petrochemical complex.

3:59 PM  

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