I just can't help myself....
I keep reading in various publications the statements of politicians and government bureaucrats downplaying the long-term toxicity of the city. The
vast majority of lazy media correspondents, content with being spoon-fed the “official” government dribble that everything will be just peachy,
have failed to ask the hard questions or do their homework. For the remaining journalists, who have attempted to investigate the issues further, the
EPA has stood firmly in their way….
Journalists face long FOIA delays
By Elisabeth Goodridge, Associated Press Writer, September 12, 2005
WASHINGTON --After badgering the Environmental Protection Agency for days to learn where dangerous chemicals were leaking after Hurricane Katrina,
Mark Schleifstein still couldn't get a clear answer.
The top hurricane reporter of The Times-Picayune of New Orleans filed a request under the federal Freedom of Information Act, asking for any reports
on spills, accidents or fires. More than a week later, he has received no response.
New Society of Environmental Journalists report: Katrina only latest example of feds withholding
Journalists are having an increasingly difficult time using the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to drag information out of the federal
government to shed light on Superfund sites, chemical factories, mining accidents and a host of other topics important to citizens.
An SEJ report released today says the failure of the Environmental Protection Agency to divulge information about chemical releases in the wake of
Hurricane Katrina is only the latest in a long line of problems journalists are encountering in using FOIA.
I have read (even on this board) that the EPA’s release of sample data clearly indicates that the only apparent threat relates to e-coli and
unexpectedly high levels of lead. Again, I ask anyone who is reading this—no, I implore you to OPEN YOUR EYES!
On September 7, 2005, the EPA published the following press release:
EPA and CDC Report High
Levels of Bacterial Contamination in Preliminary Floodwater Samples from New Orleans
Floodwaters from multiple locations across the New Orleans area were sampled by EPA and analyzed for chemicals and bacteria. These initial
results represent the beginning of extensive sampling efforts and do not represent the condition of all flood waters throughout the area.
Preliminary information indicates that bacteria counts for E. coli in sampled areas greatly exceed EPA's recommended levels for contact. At these
levels, human contact with water should be avoided.
Additional chemical sampling was performed for priority pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs),
total metals, pesticides, herbicides, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Results from these analyses were compared to various ATSDR and EPA health
levels. Lead concentrations in water exceeded drinking water action levels. These levels are a concern if a child ingests large amounts of flood
water. For the additional chemicals tested, we have yet to detect contaminant levels that would pose human health risks. Due to the priority of the
search and rescue mission, EPA testing has focused on neighborhoods and not in heavily industrialized areas.
Notice how this initial press release implies that they have been sampling water from all over the city. Note also the qualifying statements that
“initial results represent the beginning of extensive sampling efforts and do not represent the condition of all flood waters throughout the
area…EPA testing has focused on neighborhoods and not in heavily industrialized areas.
As you will see later in an EPA press release, samples were taken between September 3-5, 2005. That is only one week from the day of Katrina’s
landfall. It should also be noted that the widespread flooding caused by the levee breaches only fully occurred within the city approximately 48 hours
after landfall by August 31, 2005. When the September 3rd chemically tested samples were taken, they would only have been from flood waters that were
roughly a little more than three days old!
On September 8, 2005, the EPA published an update to their September 7, 2005, press release:
Updated: EPA and CDC
Report High Levels of Bacterial Contamination in Preliminary Floodwater Samples from New Orleans
Floodwaters from six locations across the New Orleans area were sampled by EPA and analyzed for chemicals and bacteria. These initial results
represent the beginning of extensive sampling efforts and do not represent the condition of all flood waters throughout the area. Preliminary
information indicates that bacteria counts for E. coli in sampled areas greatly exceed EPA’s recommended levels for contact. At these levels, human
contact with water should be avoided as much as possible…
Chemical sampling was performed for over one hundred priority pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semivolatile organic
compounds (SVOCs), total metals, pesticides, herbicides, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)….
The updated press release continues almost verbatim to the September 7, 2005, release. (There is additional language addressing health concerns
associated with direct contact to any standing water.)
Note that the updated press release changes “multiple locations” to “six locations”. Note also, that language went from “Additional chemical
sampling was performed for priority pollutants” to “Chemical sampling was performed for over one hundred priority pollutants.” (Please
understand that this means they tested for 100 chemical within the 6 samples. It does not me they had an additional 100 samples.)
On September 9, 2005, the EPA published the following press release:
Sampling Data Available Online
The Environmental Protection Agency in coordination with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality today posted data from New Orleans flood
water samples collected from 12 locations in the September 3-5 time period. The data has been reviewed and validated through a quality
assurance process to ensure scientific accuracy.
Initial biological results indicated the presence of high levels of E. coli in sampled areas. Based on that preliminary information, on September 7
EPA and CDC provided health guidance to avoid human contact with flood water when possible.
EPA in coordination with federal, state and local agencies will continue to release data as it becomes available. A map displaying sampling locations
is available on the EPA website. To view the data, please visit: www.epa.gov...
For the first time we learn we have samples from 12 locations
and not six. But, wait! When viewing the data hyperlink for “biological
testing” conducted on September 3, 4 & 5, 2005, (located here
clearly see what can only be described as a confusing mess of contradictory tables and maps.
In the table found on that page, we see that on September 3, 2005, there were only 6 samples
taken. (Look at the sample numbers. The double
entries are for E Coli and Total Coliform each, but they are the same sample.) On September 4, 2005, the table indicates four additional samples were
taken. And, on Spetmeber 5, 2005, the table indicates two additional samples were taken.
Again, note that the table indicates there were 12 samples, NOT locations.
Now, look at this map found on the same page and pay particular attention to the legend.
According to the map, there are 9 locations and 19 samples!
Huh??? You have to look at this map very closely.
Starting from left to right, here is how they break down….(Look at the far upper left hand corner…)
1) A single sample on September 4, 2005
2) Three samples, one each day, September 3-5, 2005
3) A single sample on September 4, 2005
4) Three samples, one on September 3, 2005 and two on September 4, 2005
5) A single sample on September 4, 2005
6) Two samples, one on September 3, 2005 and one on September 4, 2005
7) Three samples, one each day, September 3-5, 2005
8) Three samples, one each day, September 3-5, 2005
9) Two samples, one on September 3, 2005 and one on September 4, 2005
According to the map, then, we now have 19 samples taken from 9 locations.
By date, they breakdown as follows:
September 3, 2005 = 6 samples
September 4, 2005 = 10 samples
September 5, 2005 = 3 samples
Why does the press release indicate 12 locations, but the map only shows 9 locations?
Why does the table only show 12 samples, but the map shows 19 samples?
Where are the results of the remaining samples?
Next, look at the “chemical
testing” conducted only on September 3, 2005, (located
It provides the following map:
Clearly here we have only 6 locations tested.
Because results are categorized by the following addresses, we can also safely assume there were only six samples.
Site 1: West End Blvd Veterans Highway (I-10 and I-61)
Site 2: Airline Highway and Causeway Blvd
Site 3: North Claiborne Ave exit ramp (Exit 236B) off I-10
Site 4: Off I-10 near Exit 239 Louisa St and Almonaster Ave
Site 5: Off I-10 near Exit 240B Chef Menteur Highway (US Hwy 90)
Site 6: Off I-610 near Exit 2A between Paris St and St. Bernards St
Of all of the six sites tested, only site 3 produced a level of any chemical exceeding EPA’s limits. In this case, lead was found.
Does this really surprise anyone? Remember, the EPA in their infinite wisdom, judgment and expertise only tested “residential” areas for chemical
contamination, on a single day, only three days after the city was flooded, in only six locations. Why aren’t there more samples? DOES THIS MAKE ANY
Look at nearly ANY picture of the flooding in New Orleans and tell me what you see??? What are the people, who are there, saying about the smell and
obvious quality of the water???
The MEDIA seems content to be fed the EPA’s assurances that all is well and good in the world. Yet, ask yourself, is the EPA a trustworthy source? I
have already documented much that is wrong with this federal agency, in this thread and elsewhere, but I surprising continue to hear from colleagues
and members of this board that “if the EPA says it’s OK, then that is good enough for me.”
Look, has anybody considered why the EPA selected the locations that they did??? Look at those maps more closely…..Aren’t they all on the
interstates or very near dry land??? DOES THAT MAKE SENSE? What happened to the EPA’s 65 boats, now that it appears *their* rescue efforts are no
Wouldn’t it be logical to obtain samples in those areas where you know there is a high risk of contamination?
For example, this shows where all the gas stations and other petroleum nasties are:
Or better yet, how about looking at the sites the EPA knows are HAZMAT or SUPERFUND listed?
What’s this I see???? Is that a yellow star??? A SUPERFUND site??? Did we go there???
Of course not! The EPA knows that area very well. They have been screwing residents there for decades.
In case anyone is interested, the yellow star is known as the Agriculture Street Landfill (ASL). I mentioned it briefly in one of my previous
On September 1, 2005, Solid Waste & Recycling Magazine, reported the following:
Love Canal-type landfill submerged in New Orleans floodwaters
Overlooked in many news reports about the unfolding storm disaster in the southern United States, especially in the City of New Orleans, in the
aftermath of hurricane Katrina, is a potentially dramatic pollution issue related to a toxic landfill that sits under the flood waters right in
the city's downtown, according to map overlays of the flooded area. The situation could exacerbate the already dire threat to human health and the
environment from the flood waters.
The Agriculture Street Landfill (ASL) is situated on a 95-acre site in New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana. The ASL is a federally registered
Superfund site, and is on the National Priorities List of highly contaminated sites requiring cleanup and containment. A few years ago the site,
which sits underneath and beside houses and a school, was fenced and covered with clean soil. However, three feet or more of flood waters could
potentially cause the landfill's toxic contents – the result of decades of municipal and industrial waste dumping – to leach out.
Houses and buildings that were constructed in later years directly atop parts of the landfill. Residents report unusual cancers and health problems
and have lobbied for years to be relocated away from the old contaminated site, which contains not only municipal garbage, but buried industrial
wastes such as what would be produced by service stations and dry cleaners, manufacturers or burning. The site was routinely sprayed with DDT in
the 1940s and 50s and, in 1962, 300,000 cubic yards of excess fill were removed from ASL because of ongoing subsurface fires. (The site was nicknamed
"Dante's Inferno" because of the fires.)
The ASL can be thought of a sort of Love Canal for New Orleans -– and now it sits under water...
Disturbingly, the site is also very close to the Industrial Canal Levee, a section of which collapsed and allowed flood waters to pour in, almost
directly in the direction of the ASL site.
You don’t say?
If you’re curious to know exactly where this site is located, then click
and match up the
intersection of Higgins Blvd and St. Ferdinands St. to this map from the EPA:
Hmmm….What’s that I see? LEAD???? Where have I seen that before???
You can read all about the Agriculture Street Landfill’s history here.
But, let me give you some highlights:
- the EPA tested the soil and found it to have over 150 chemicals in it, 50 of which are cancer causing. (EPA Publication, 1999)
- in 2001, the EPA claimed to have removed 2 feet of soil from 99% of the 190 acre site. What they don’t mention is that 90% of the site was
inaccessible because of homes, sidewalks, driveways, roads and other obstructions.
In case anyone at the EPA is watching, DID WE SAMPLE THERE???
IDIOTS! And, anyone who believes them….
Enough of my rant….
[edit on 14-9-2005 by loam]