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Report: U.S. Cover Up on Toxic Waters and NOLA

by Last Night in Little Rock

The U.K. Independent Online has an article today Cover-up: toxic waters 'will make New Orleans unsafe for a decade' contending that U.S. government officials know it, and they just aren't saying it.

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.

. . .

Mr Kaufman claimed the Bush administration was playing down the need for a clean-up: the EPA has not been included in the core White House group tackling the crisis. "Its budget has been cut and inept political hacks have been put in key positions," Mr Kaufman said. "All the money for emergency response has gone to buy guns and cowboys - which don't do anything when a hurricane hits. We were less prepared for this than we would have been on 10 September 2001."

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.

They have to pump out the city. At least they could warn those who might come into contact with the water.

And then they could hire their friends, Halliburton, et al., to clean it up.

And so it goes.

Update, 9/12: Paul Krugman writes about this in today's NY Times.

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    Excerpt from e-mail forwarded last week:
    Dear Public Health and Clinical Colleagues, As many of you are aware, Vibrio Vulnificus infections, including Vibrio Vulnificus septicemia has now been reported in Hurricane Katrina flood water exposed patients. Though most frequently seen in patients with pre-existing liver disease, diabetes and the immunocompromised, Vibrio Vulnificus can infect the normal host as well. Skin related infections and injury are common in flood victims. Vibrio Vulnificus infection can begin several days after exposure to flood water through skin lacerations or ingestion of contaminated water. *Vibrio Vulnificus sepsis frequently presents with skin findings.* Local infections can appear as pustular, lymphangitic, or cellulitic lesions that can be mild or rapidly progress into painful cellulitis with widespread necrosis. In primary bacteremic vibrio, tender erythematous patches and plaques quickly progress to vesicles and hemorrhagic bullae, which may result in gangrene and necrotizing fasciitis. DIC has been documented. As a public service more information, including clinical images can be found at link. Please feel free to disseminate this link to others that may be treating these types of patients.


    Re: Report: U.S. Cover Up on Toxic Waters and NOL (none / 0) (#1)
    by scarshapedstar on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:40 PM EST
    Well, uh, can we get someone to look into this? And no, wingnuts, consulting the Bible doesn't count.

    Re: Report: U.S. Cover Up on Toxic Waters and NOL (none / 0) (#2)
    by MikeDitto on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:40 PM EST
    I wonder if Mr. Kaufman still has a job.

    Re: Report: U.S. Cover Up on Toxic Waters and NOL (none / 0) (#3)
    by DonS on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:40 PM EST
    Mr. Kaufman doesn't need a job. He's been with the government 35 years (came in about the same year I did . . . I didn't stay more than 5 years), when the EPA was brand spanding new, under Ruckleshaus, with a lot of idealism. No, I imagine Mr. Kaufmann has about had it with the amateurs and politicos and is ready to hang up his spurs. Sad that it takes a person with little to lose to call the government to account. No doubt too, he is worn down trying to fight the budget cutting and science-denying Bushies. Probably has an ulcer. I respect his courage to go public.

    Re: Report: U.S. Cover Up on Toxic Waters and NOL (none / 0) (#4)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:40 PM EST
    Gee wiz history seems to repeat itself. The EPA tried the same cover-up with the WTC disaster. I guess all those involved got promotions and are actually experienced now, at cover-ups that is. The leaker will be caught and fired, of course after a full investigation which should cost $10 mil. It's no wonder they always run out of money for the important things.

    Re: Report: U.S. Cover Up on Toxic Waters and NOL (none / 0) (#5)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:40 PM EST
    Substitute "Mr. Kaufman will be" for "the leaker will be caught and", all the rest stays.... Ok maybe since they know who the leaker is the investigation as to why he leaked and the circumstances around the leak will only cost $9 mil.

    Re: Report: U.S. Cover Up on Toxic Waters and NOL (none / 0) (#6)
    by krazycory on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:41 PM EST
    i've been wondering for a while what they were trying to cover-up! they didnt care about the people right after the storm but now its a mandatory evacuation. it's starting to make sence now

    Re: Report: U.S. Cover Up on Toxic Waters and NOL (none / 0) (#7)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:41 PM EST
    CNN's threatened lawsuit forced the feds to reverse their media ban on activities surrounding the recovery of NO dead bodies. There were rumors that that mercenaries from Blackwater USA, Steele Foundation, and Wackenhut, were involved in burning the bodies of victims in makeshift crematoria set up throughout the city in order to reduce the death count. If true the media ban would have simplified all efforts to sanitize the disaster.
    U.S. District Court Judge Keith Ellison issued a temporary restraining order Friday against a "zero access" policy announced earlier in the day by Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, who is overseeing the federal relief effort in the city, and Terry Ebbert, the city's homeland security director.
    link via josh marshall

    Re: Report: U.S. Cover Up on Toxic Waters and NOL (none / 0) (#8)
    by Edger on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:41 PM EST
    Re: Report: U.S. Cover Up on Toxic Waters and NOL (none / 0) (#9)
    by jimcee on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:41 PM EST
    Although the Independent is a rather dodgy source I don't think that there has been a cover-up of what a septic stew NOLA is and will be for a while. Somehow though I bet that there will be potable water through municipal supplies more sooner then later. As for myself, I'd still drink bottled water for a while after municipal water was available. Shower? Sure. Wash my clothes? Yup. Drink it? No way. I didn't trust it before the flood why would I trust it afterwards?

    Re: Report: U.S. Cover Up on Toxic Waters and NOL (none / 0) (#10)
    by Edger on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:41 PM EST
    --- CIDRAP: Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy - University of Minnesota --- Hurricane Katrina sparks fears of disease outbreaks Robert Roos * News Editor Sep 2, 2005 (CIDRAP News) Amid the devastation left by hurricane Katrina on the US Gulf Coast, fears of infectious disease outbreaks have added to the distress. Some of those concerns are solidly grounded, while others are less so, disease experts say... --- I am not an investigative reporter. I post this and the above post for information only, in case anyone would carry the ball on this.

    Re: Report: U.S. Cover Up on Toxic Waters and NOL (none / 0) (#11)
    by desertswine on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:41 PM EST
    Millions gallons of toxic stew will all be flushed into the Gulf of Mexico (there's nowhere else to put it); it will be an ecological disaster of immense proportion for years to come.

    Although the Independent is a rather dodgy source
    WHAT?? Any evidence for it's "dodginess" other than the fact that it isn't FoxNews, LGF or Powerline? The fact that it's one of the most respected British newspapers isn't enough for you? Or is it just the name that puts you off? "Hmmm. 'The Independent' - Sounds a bit pinko-commie-liberal to me - Must be dodgy." The fact that it it isn't content to just spout WH press releases and actually does, y'know, INVESTIGATIVE reporting? Have you ever actually read it? Have you got any evidence that it has been less than reliable in the past? Or are you really just p*ssed off that it isn't owned by NewsCorp? Just keep on shooting that messenger, Jimcee...

    the Independent is one of the better newspapers in the world.

    Re: Report: U.S. Cover Up on Toxic Waters and NOL (none / 0) (#15)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:42 PM EST
    the Independent is one of the better newspapers in the world.
    Yeah, if you are a tree-hugging commie pinko liberal Americahater. For the rest of us, there is Fox News. Sarcasm aside, it's good to see investigative journalism in a newspaper, as opposed to a collection of govt. press releases.

    Re: Report: U.S. Cover Up on Toxic Waters and NOL (none / 0) (#16)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:44 PM EST
    More toxins in the mix, a superfund site is now covered under three feet of water.
    The ASL can be thought of a sort of Love Canal for New Orleans - and now it sits under water.
    Solid Waste and Recycling Magazine Exclusive via josh marshall

    Yeah, if you are a tree-hugging commie pinko liberal Americahater.
    mmmm - trees. mmmm - pink. america (current version) - booooo