Thursday, March 30, 2006

EPA Under Fire for Inaction on Katrina Cleanup

New Standard has the story of the letter sent to the EPA by a number of humanitarian groups, demanding a clean-up of the toxic contamination of New Orleans and the greater Gulf Coast region incurred during the storms last year. Finally some groups with clout, or at least the power to command attention, are forcing authorities and the media to start addressing the issue of the toxic residue coating all of New Orleans and much of the coastal regions inundated by Katrina and Rita last year. I blogged about this several times last September (see here and here) and intended to make it an ongoing project before life forced my attention elsewhere for awhile. I was shocked then and continue to be amazed that there is so little attention being paid to this issue in the MSM and that what there is of it tends to promulgate official obfuscation and misdirection.

This is a scandal in the making that could rival Chernobyl for the toll of death and disease it could take over the next several decades if it continues to be ignored. But if science can, for once, trump politics and the prophets of profit, the tragedy could be hugely ameliorated as most of the contaminants in the storm-ravaged region are much more amenable to clean-up than radioactive contamination. But it would be costly. So many politicians and corporations are probably banking on the fact that most of the death and disease these toxins will be responsible for will be slow in developing and difficult to attribute to them.

Thus, the attention focused on this by groups like Oxfam America, the National Black Environmental Justice Network, ACORN and the NAACP when they sent a letter to the EPA earlier this month urging a ‘‘careful and prompt clean-up” is crucial to the cause of raising awareness of the situation, even if it has little hope of moving the government to prompt action. These groups all have reputations for doggedness once they have identified an issue to be deserving of their attention. They will not be easily dissuaded from pursuing the story and pressing for action. They all have large memberships noted for their humanitarian concerns. This is encouraging. It is at least a start.

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