Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Love Canal-type landfill submerged in New Orleans floodwaters

A toxic landfill site on which low-income housing was built in central New Orleans is now under floodwaters with the potential to pollute and contaminate portions of the Gulf Coast. In the 1940s and 1950s, the site was routinely sprayed with DDT, but in 1962 some 229,300 cubic metres of excess fill was removed because subsurface toxic fires kept erupting (and got the site known as "Dante's Inferno"). According to the editor of Hazardous Waste magazine, the site -- now under water -- will almost inevitably leach toxic effluent into the floodwaters, with the potential of inflicting unpredictable damage on the coast, and those that live there -- a possible environmental catastrophe. Tests by the EPA in the 1980s and 90s found 149 chemicals - 44 of which are known carcinogens. Among the toxic substances found were arsenic, lead, mercury, barium, and other organic compounds that are associated with pesticides and the burning of waste. Finally, what is the status of the Waterford 3 nuke plant just north of New Orleans, and what is the status of that plant's nuclear waste ? News reports say it sustained damage to 'off-site buildings' but what does that mean? Were those waste containment facilities? [from MetaFilter.com]

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