Hurricane Katrina: Environmental Pollution & Contamination
The matter of Environmental Pollution and Contamination as a result of Hurricane Katrina which struck the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005, is one which will continue to unfold for some time.
It could play out as a reason, or an excuse, or a justification, for demolishing parts of the city for complete rebuilding; or it could play out as a covered up story in order to rebuild quickly without clean-up, as was the case after the World Trade Center destruction in 2001.
In mid-September 2005 the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) criticized the government's "tight-lipped approach" in responding to requests for information about the toxic gumbo left by Hurricane Katrina. SEJ President Perry Beeman says the government is "denying the public crucial information collected with taxpayers' money on behalf of taxpayers in the first place. ... What we need to know is what exactly is in the water. Which bacteria and how much? Which gasoline and oil constituents and how much? Which carcinogens? Which pathogens? Americans need to know what specific threats exist and what the government is doing about them. They are paying for the raw data, and they deserve to see it." SEJ has prepared a timeline showing how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has responded to reporters' requests, as well as a new report on environmental reporters' experiences with the Freedom of Information Act. 
"Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Functional Plan"
A DRAFT copy of the "Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Functional Plan" (IEM/TEC04-070), dated August 6, 2004, (125-pdf) was posted online by MSNBC Media. The Plan was prepared under FEMA BPA HSFEHQ-04-A-0288, Task Order 001.
Pdf pages 11 through 18 address HAZMAT predictions and concerns.
"New test results released by the federal Environmental Protection Agency ... confirm that toxic chemicals contained in floodwaters in New Orleans and Metairie are in concentrations too small to be an immediate threat to humans," Mark Schleifstein of The Times-Picayune reported September 11, 2005.
"The floodwaters in New Orleans still pose a health risk because of dangerous levels of sewage-related bacteria and toxic chemicals, according to government test results released" September 14, 2005, Associated Press's John Heilprin reported.
Monitoring: Environmental Factors
Turning Point Model State Public Health Act (TPMSPHA) published September 16, 2003, and State Legislative Table as of November 10, 2004. In Louisiana:
- Environmental Factors Database: "Creates an Environmental Health Surveillance System to develop a database to evaluate environmental factors, including physical, biological and social factors." Governor signed June 27, 2003.
- Sanitary Code Violations: "Provides for the assessment of fines and penalties against those who violate the sanitary code, particularly related to provisions regarding isolation and quarantine." Governor signed July 6, 2004.
Monitoring: Public Health & Toxic Floodwaters
Following the evacuation of patients from New Orleans' Kindred Hospital on Friday, September 2, 2005, "government officials designated the facility as the nerve center for public-health monitoring in the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. ... state and federal officials moved in their own equipment and computer systems to transform the facility into a 'forward command' center that's monitoring and managing the public-health crisis posed by the toxic floodwaters." 
- Robert Shimek, "Environmental Pollution Along the Mississippi: From the Headwater to the Delta," Democracy Now!, August 30, 2005.
- Damu Smith, "Environmental Racism," Democracy Now!, August 30, 2005.
- "Toxic New Orleans: 'The Worst Case'," Democracy Now!, September 1, 2005: "The Washington Post points out that New Orleans is now flooded by water spiked with tons of toxic chemicals and contaminants ranging from heavy metals and hydrocarbons to industrial waste, human feces and the decayed remains of humans and animals. Experts say the contamination will continue to poison the Gulf of Mexico region for more than a decade. A senior policy analyst at the Environmental Protection Agency told the Post 'This is the worst case...There is not enough money in the gross national product of the United States to dispose of the amount of hazardous material in the area.'"
- Prof. Goose, "Newest (and very informative and very scary) report from an anonymous user," The Oil Drum, August 31, 2005.
- "20 oil rigs missing in Gulf of Mexico: US Coast Guard," Agence France Presse (Yahoo! News), August 31, 2005.
- "Love Canal-type landfill submerged in New Orleans floodwaters," Solid Waste & Recycling magazine, September 1, 2005.
- Guy Gugliotta and Peter Whoriskey, "Extraordinary Problems, Difficult Solutions. Massive Floods, Pollution Make for 'Worst Case'," Washington Post, September 1, 2005.
- Robin Wallace, "At Shelters, Katrina Health Crisis Continues," Fox News, September 6, 2005.
- Perry Beeman, "Americans need EPA answers now," Society of Environmental Journalists, September 8, 2005.
- Sarah Childress, "Critical Condition. The Health Crisis: Contaminated water. Dysfunctional hospitals. The city's medical challenge is just beginning," Newsweek, September 12, 2005.
- Geoffrey Lean, "over-Up: Toxic Waters 'Will Make New Orleans Unsafe for a Decade'," Independent (UK), September 12, 2005.
- Carol Norris, "Let Them Eat Toxins. From Cancer Alley to the Lethal Lagoon of New Orleans," CounterPunch, September 12, 2005.
- Ralph Vartabedian, "Much Wider Damage to Levees Is Disclosed. Miles of barriers designed to protect the city from storm surges have been washed away," Los Angeles Times, September 13, 2005.
- Brad Knickerbocker, "Katrina lays bare Superfund woes. Concern rises that storm may have compromised cleanup of toxic sites around New Orleans - and created new ones," Christian Science Monitor, September 15, 2005.
- Randy Lee Loftis, "Oil spills after Katrina rival Exxon Valdez," Dallas Morning News (WWLTV.com), September 15, 2005.
- Society of Environmental Journalists, "SEJ and EPA/Katrina: The search for public information — a timeline", September 15, 2005
- John Heilprin, "Fuel oils in sediment in New Orleans," Associated Press (Times Leader), September 16, 2005: "A new health risk emerged Friday from the sediment of New Orleans - test results showing that diesel and fuel oils, which can take years to break down, make up as much as a 10th of the weight of some sediment samples."
- Nicole Makris, "Neck Deep in Toxic Gumbo," AlterNet, September 16, 2005: "Water quality in New Orleans -- and throughout the South -- has been deplorable for years. In Katrina's wake it just got dramatically worse."
- Ashley Powers, David Streitfeld and Marla Cone, "Rain, Pollution Feared as New Orleans Reopens. Businesses are set to return to dry areas, but the flood-protection system is a concern," Los Angeles Times, September 17, 2005.
- Randy Dotinga, "How Vile Is Katrina's Toxic Goo?" Wired, September 19, 2005.
- Gary Bass, "Damage Control?" Tom Paine.Common Sense, September 22, 2005.