On the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we’re not hearing much about the “toxic gumbo” — a term reportedly first coined by reporter Ron Nixon, who has written for The Nation — that flooded New Orleans and surrounding areas. In the months after the storm, there was a plenty of coverage of the chemicals stirred up by Katrina; years of industry’s reckless dumping on Louisiana’s poor and black communities wrought a horrifying, carcinogenic soup of oil, gasoline, asbestos, raw sewage, cyanide, chlorobenzene and numerous other toxins, according to numerous experts who monitor pollution in the region. As Nicole Makris noted at the timeon Alternet, it was expected to be the EPA’s biggest cleanup yet. Much of the sludge was released into Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River without treatment, which is, clearly, disturbing. Everyone agreed that more study was needed — after all, in the chaos of humanitarian crisis, who had time to take water and soil samples. But some time has passed. One year later, what has our government discovered about this sludge and its effects on human health?
Going against the tired conventional wisdom yet again, the Bushies have found that, just like global warming, it’s no big deal. A report recently released by the Bush Administration’s Environmental “Protection” Agency found that the sediments left over from Rita and Katrina were “not expected to cause adverse health impacts to individuals returning to New Orleans.” If you’re reassured by that, perhaps you’re a potential client for FEMA rolling head Michael Brown, who did such a “heck” of a job that he now runs his own disaster relief consultancy. Amazingly, this enterprise — which you’d think would be about as viable as a daycare center run by Michael Jackson — is a success. According to the New York Times, “Brownie” has about half a dozen clients and expects to earn “significantly more” in his new gig than he did as FEMA director (for which he scammed a government handout of $148,000 annually).