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Thursday, November 10, 2005

New Orleans: "The humans are the guinea pigs here.''

A story out of the Associated Press today says that there are still environmental problems in New Orleans, though the EPA continues to downplay them.

But, a local chemical engineer with an enviromental group lays it out pretty well:

Gary Miller, a chemical engineer and air expert with the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, said state and federal agencies have done a good job sampling the hurricane-hit region. But, he said, EPA has been reluctant to declare the region environmentally dangerous because the agency does not want to stop the rebuilding effort.

"There are millions of dollars at stake here, and the last thing EPA will want to do is get in front of that locomotive,'' Miller said.

He said the long-term health and environmental effects are still playing out.
"This is an ongoing experiment,'' he said, "and unfortunately the humans are the guinea pigs here.''

For example, he said, EPA samples show that there are high levels of lead and arsenic in sediment in New Orleans. Officials, he said, will need to be very careful about what they do with the contaminated soil.

Indeed, until the danger is properly determined, the people returning are guinea pigs. Some residents, it was reported on television, are begining to take on Mayor Ray Nagin. We hope those same residents band together with groups like the Bucket Brigade and Louisiana Environmental Action Network to put pressure on the government to protect the health of the public.

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  • We are a group of former Congressional staff, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) staff, and environmental group staff tracking and analyzing the news, in real time, from New Orleans from an environmental health perspective.

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