It's the Environment, Stupid.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Landfill in New Orleans

The New York Times reports today that a new landfill in New Orleans is sparking some controversy. All of the unsalvageable homes and their contents are being cleared away for clean-up and all that waste has got to go somewhere.

Chuck Carr Brown, an assistant secretary of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality is quoted in the story as saying, "You cannot rebuild until you clean up." Which leads me to jump to the conclusion that there's some heavy, underlying political pressure to get the new New Orleans underway, and fast. Unfortunately for the planners and politicians a Vietnamese community isn't too keen on having a landfill move in as their neighbor - and they're making it known.

"But more than a thousand Vietnamese-American families live less than two miles from the edge of the new landfill. And they are far from pleased at having the moldering remains of a national disaster plunked down nearby, alongside the canal that flooded their neighborhood when Hurricane Katrina surged through last year.

Environmental groups are also angry, accusing local and federal officials of ignoring or circumventing their own regulations, long after the immediate emergency has ended. The same thing happened after Hurricane Betsy in 1965, they warn, and that dump ended up becoming a Superfund site."

"State officials say that the new landfill is safe and that they are simply moving quickly to protect public health and the environment, using techniques that did not exist 40 years ago. The new site was chosen to speed up the cleanup, they say, because the debris will not have to be hauled far. The state estimates that 7.2 million tons of hurricane debris remains to be cleaned up; the Chef Menteur landfill will take 2.6 million tons."

So who do you think will win this battle? Sounds like a thousand Vietnamese-American families and some angry environmentalists might be outnumbered by 2.6 million tons of (potentially hazardous) waste.


  • My bet is that if (sufficient quantities of?) hazardous substances are found among the piles of trash during the 72-hr reprieve, then Nagin will shut the dump. Not being clay-lined is a big thing, and there's plenty of attention on him with this.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 20:53  

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