Saturday, September 17, 2005

Post Katrina Environmental Impact

I've been so busy chasing links and reading stories and digesting information regarding the probable long-term environmental impact of Katrina and the reconstruction efforts that I haven't been able to compose my own post regarding any of it for several days. I still don't feel ready. My head is so swamped with facts and theory--rumors and guesses; actual announced policy from the administration (along with speculation about the true meaning behind the Orwellian words); proposed legislation from Congress; alerts from those with credentials in the field--I just don't feel competent to sort it out into anything of unique and substantive value, which is one of my benchmarks for posting.

I feel there are enough blogs out there doing a remarkable job of calling attention to current events and news and commentary with quotes and links (often to articles in the MSM which are quickly archived behind pay-per-view walls, leaving the blogosphere riddled with linkrot) that I would not be adding anything of value to the discussion by doing more of the same. But my struggle to find relevant and substantial information over the last week has shown me that this meme is not spreading through either the MSM, the EzInes (at least the free ones which are the only ones I can afford) or the blogosphere with the alacrity of many of the other Katrina related memes, though I believe it is the most important following only after providing for the immediate life-sustaining needs of the survivors.

I worry that if we don't create a tipping point of demand for responsible, transparent, accountable attention to this issue, it will soon be commandeered by the corporations, the construction contractors, the sea-food and agricultural industries and the tourist industry. And before long even Oprah would suffer distasteful repercussions if she were to frown in public at the thought of being served shrimp gumbo laced with PCBs, lead, mercury, heavy metals, petroleum, arsenic….

There are already laws in place in many states forbidding the libeling of produce on which that state's livelihood depends, laws which have been used to hush whistle blowers and lone activists with crushing financial punishment via fines, loss of jobs, blacklisting and bankrupting legal fees. Watch for such laws to be created and/or strengthened throughout the Gulf states, if not throughout the US, in the near future. The only way to preempt this attempt to preempt open discussion about this is to make such a hullabaloo now that a demand for dependable information and responsible, science-based, clean-up operations will become as unstoppable as Katrina herself.

I have yet to find anyone doing anything resembling a clearing house of information and links regarding the ramifications of the toxic content of the water saturating every surface of New Orleans and being pumped into Lake Pontchartrain from where it will wend its way to the gulf through the estuaries and be spread into the local (thus global) food chain and all the local sources of potable water. I don't have any illusions that I can provide one with my current resources, nor do I want this blog, Joystory, to be commandeered for the purpose as my intent for it is still reflected by the subtitle even though I continue to have trouble overriding my obsession with this issue in order to maintain a balance in post subjects (or in my daily life routines for that matter). But I do want to contribute to the meme stream some of what I have dug up and to put out a call for more relevant links. I am going to periodically update this post with my continuing research results and thus will put a permanent link to it in the sidebar within the next few days.

In Reviving New Orleans, a Challenge of Many Tiers I put this one first not because it is most useful but because it is one of the rare examples of a MSM source addressing the issue (and it will be easier to locate here than elsewhere in the list for removal when its link rots next week).

This is also likely to linkrot which is why I include the relevant quote here. I'm going to keep my eye on Carol Browner in hopes she continues to be vocal: Carol Browner (former EPA head under Clinton) theorized that the city proper may well become the nation's largest de facto toxic waste site: The water, so thick and toxic... is now receding while you watch in places... and I fear the sludge and dust left behind won't necessarily present itself to people as the danger we know it is.

Susie at Suburban Guerrilla alerts us to an AP report that Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the Republican chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is preparing legislation that would allow the EPA to relax or suspend its rules in the interests of expediting reconstruction.

Susie again: The Heritage Foundation, a radical-right think-tank which provides many of the talking-points for the 'conservative' pundits and professional 'experts' consulted by the media and contributes to the writing of legislation and regulations, has issued its recommendations for Katrina recovery and New Orleans reconstruction. Among them: Repeal the estate tax and copiously fund faith-based organizations. Drill the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, suspend environmental regulations including the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act, suspend prevailing wage labor laws. (Including worker safety regulations which would allow them to subject workers now and in the future to toxic levels heretofore considered unacceptable? While curtailing their access to healthcare? And forcing them to work for substandard wages? Don't they have a name for this? Hint: it rhymes with 'rave' but it ain't no party! JR)

(Be not confused: this is a battle between the moral values of billionaires for bottomless greed versus the moral values of the commonweal. The prophets for profit are currently out-shouting the prophets for public and personal well-being. We need to find our voice and soon, before they find a way to buy or steal that too.JR)

BAGnewsNotes has some more stunning photos of the rainbow sheen spread over NO but questions the media's will to keep the toxicity of NO story alive. Not sexy enough, too difficult to research. Not photogenic enough. And someone in the comments on this post leaves behind these links, which while not directly related to Katrina have information with implications for the mind boggling complexity of the problem we are facing:
We have met the enemy...
Huge Cleanup Ahead for Kodak
Photographic Processing Hazards
Hazardous Waste From Computers
Video Display Units — Health Hazards
Cathode Ray Tubes = Hazardous Waste
U.S. Electricity Generation — Fuel Sources

(As you read those sources, consider the implications of the electronic components found in a typical household or office and multiply it by one or two hundred-thousand. Add to that the probable contents of department stores and warehouses in this major shipping nexus--all of this soaking in this water for several weeks. JR)

Solid Waste & Recycling, an online magazine, alerts us to the infamous Agricultural Landfill Site in downtown NO. Said to be on a par with Love Canal for levels of toxins, it is a toxic waste contaminated area several blocks wide, now under three feet of water, making probable the spread of the contaminates it contains.
Appended to this article are links to interactive maps of before and after the flood with directions for locating the ALS.

There is also a link to an Environmental Justice Case Study which offers a detailed history of the pollution problems at the ASL and of residents complaints and health problems.

Also provided is a link to the government site that offers details about the government's Public Health Assessment regarding the ALS. (I predict this one won't stay available for long and I hope someone with tech savvy and file storage resources can stash a linkable copy of it before it disappears down the memory hole. JR)

GIS mapping of sites likely to be sources of toxins released into water by Katrina

Amy Goodman interviews Harold Zeliger re NO Toxic Soup
I do expect Democracy Now to keep their watchful eye on this issue
Toxic Soup: The Deadly Floodwaters of New Orleans
Environmental Pollution Along the Mississippi: From the Headwater to the Delta

Kudos to T r u t h o u t which is shaping up to be a resource on this issue with several articles already and forums for discussion available.
The entire community is now a toxic waste dump
After Katrina: the toxic time bomb

From the Guardian Unlimited:
Katrina oil spills may be among worst on record
According to the Coast Guard, 6.5 million gallons of crude oil had been spilt in at least seven major incidents. This does not include the leaks from 200,000 submerged vehicles and hundreds of submerged gas stations.
Prescott links global warming to Katrina
Oil spills and lost islands add to the hurricane's toll

Cover-Up: Toxic Waters 'Will Make New Orleans Unsafe for a Decade'
Hugh Kaufman at the EPA is blowing the whistle on the administration's attempts at a cover-up already. They are suppressing the release of the test results on the water samples and deliberately preventing the collection and testing of a statistically significant number of samples.

(Let me remind those still clueless: Science and technology need facts with which to work. Facts are the foundation of knowledge and understanding and of the concomitant innovation which provides solutions to problems in the form of technology. This is the true fuel of the economy, without it the billionaires gold is so much gas, dissipating into the global finance network, trading itself for itself, buying itself with itself--one giant Ponzi scheme. In order to adequately address the toxins in NO the scientists and innovators need facts. JR)

He did the same with the cover-up of the highly toxic condition of the air in downtown Manhattan after the WTC towers fell. He was not heeded and today a large percentage of the rescue, recovery and clean-up workers are suffering various degrees of compromised lung function among other health issues, including a statistically higher than normal death rate.
Help me amply his message so that his warning cannot be marginalized by the administration or the MSM again.

Here are two more which have caught the meme from Kaufman:
Culver City News w/ a forum for commenting
Paul Krugman quotes Kaufman in the context of alerting us that the state of most if not all of the government agencies mirror that of FEMA

0 tell me a story:

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