HOT OFF THE WIRE: Dangerous Mold Levels Found in NO
We're still looking through all the findings, but needless to say, these findings are worrisome.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has announced that homes near the St. Regis Superfund site in Cass Lake, Minn., willbe cleaned up and clean topsoil and grass will be applied to their yards...
The interim cleanup plan includes the removaland replacement of carpeting, initial and periodic housecleaning to remove dust,soil and grass cover on yards in the area, and actions to suppress dust on nearbydirt streets. While the houses are being cleaned, residents will be temporarily relocated to local hotels and also receive a food allowance....
“We waited until we got a written report from the EPA [before people were allowed back]” for each area, Nagin testified before the same Senate committee. “I kept asking for written reports and there was a reluctance to grant those,” he added, but they were eventually delivered.
He conceded, however, that the strategy was “somewhat risky” given the health concerns.
"We also looked at the [EPA] report as it relates to flooded areas. And it was a very clever attorney who wrote the report. So it basically bounced on both sides of the issue and didn't really tell you much."
Activists say homes are the most immediate risk. “It’s kicked up in the form of dust and people are breathing it,” said Olson, the lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “People breathe it all together, and when you get that type of combination it’s particularly dangerous for people with respiratory illnesses.”
And the EPA's sampling and cleanup plans addressed only the flood-deposited sediment outdoors. Planning for any cleanup inside homes or other buildings would be a state and local responsibility.
Heavy metals were found in the soil on the school’s playground, the groups said.
“Kids are always playing in the dirt and putting their hands in their mouths,” Anne Rolfes, director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, said in a statement announcing the results. “Why aren’t our government agencies talking about these risks?”
Murphy Oil sent a letter to residents earlier this week saying that testing by a company it had retained showed little threat of long-term health issues.
"In New Orleans and the South you will have dust and it will be made up of all kinds of things," said Lioy. "We're still tearing down buildings (in New York City) because we can't clean them up. This will also be an issue the South will have to deal with."
Related to the dust, Lioy said that knowing its specific make-up is crucial to cleaning it up correctly. "Characterize your dust now, know what's in it and know it well. It's not just one single chemical, it's multiple toxins. And those toxins may not alone impact people, but they could react differently mixed together."
Lioy also advised those present to make sure no one is left out during the cleanup phase and to make sure responders and workers are equipped with respirators. Pointing to an image of Ground Zero cleanup workers with respirators resting around their necks, Lioy cautioned the conference-goers.
"One of the most serious issues after Sept. 11 was that no one wore respirators (during cleanup)," he explained. "You need to make sure that not only government workers and large contractors have them, but that everyone has them and wears them."