Dirty South Bureau

July 30, 2008

Latest on the Toxic Oil Spill in the Mississippi

Filed under: environment,We Are Not OK — christian @ 1:01 am

Louisiana Environmental Action Network finds “extensive ground contamination”. Lots of pictures.

Story here

July 28, 2008

“Booms”, pom-poms, rickety streetcars and 400,000 gallons of toxic waste.

Filed under: environment,Other,We Are Not OK — christian @ 12:09 am

So I went down tonight to the Mississippi tonight to look at the river from the Moonwalk, near the French Quarter. It is covered with an oily sheen, and against the shore is a line of orange floatation devices, covered in oil. There is still a noxious smell.

What is the point of these “booms”? To keep the oil off the rocks, so the tourists can’t see it next month?

My friend Joanna Dubinsky had been down a few days prior, when a crew of workers in hazmat suits working for an out of town contractor were mopping up the oil by hand with pom-poms.

Yes, pom-poms. Like cheerleaders use.

This is the government’s plan to deal with the 400,000 gallons of #6 fuel oil that leaked out following a barge accident on Wednesday. Today’s Times-Picayune says that 10% of the oil has been mopped up by these crews and a type of boat called a skimmer. The rest has floated down into the wetlands in the delta, where it is doing god-knows-what damage. The article also quotes wildlife conservation officials who say they have found 57 oil-soaked birds.

No source was cited for the 10% figure. I am assuming this means this was the official PR estimate by the state, which means that it was total bullshit. But let’s get real. Even 10% is totally inadequate. It’s like having your doctor say he was able to stop 10% of the bleeding on a wound.

Where the fuck is FEMA? Where the fuck is the EPA? If 400,000 gallons of toxic waste don’t qualify as an emergency, could someone please explain to me what does?

A preliminary report by Louisiana Environmental Action Network (for the record, my former employer) explains that this “#6 fuel oil”, a byproduct of the refining process, contains large amounts of sulphur and heavy metals. This report also details a number of basic safety procedures that could have prevented such an accident.

But let’s be honest. The biggest problem here is our dependence on petroleum. It’s clear that the increased frequency of severe hurricanes in the gulf is related to global warming, which in turn is largely a result of, again, our petroleum use. The oil industry has criss-crossed the wetlands with canals, which also made us more vulnerable to major storms. And now our dependence on oil has caused yet another environmental disaster of untold proportions.

What’s going to happen to the shrimp and oyster beds in the delta? And what’s going to happen to the few shrimpers down the river who haven’t already been put out of business?

Shell and Exxon-Mobil executives should be down there mopping this shit up themselves. Instead they make pretty commercials and donate token sums to wetlands restoration, and the rest of us remain pacified.

And because this shit is all related: after all southern Louisiana has been through as a result of our dependence on oil, why don’t we have a functioning transportation system in this city? Why is our public transit based around a couple of fucking streetcars for the tourists that look cute but go about three miles per hour? Is this the result of the years that we spent in bullshit public planning processes?

July 24, 2008

400,000 gallons of diesel

Filed under: Bywater,environment,Other,We Are Not OK — christian @ 11:45 pm

OK, so, did anyone else notice the noxious gas-station smell last night in the neighborhoods by the river? Here I was at Markey’s, paying $3 for Abita Amber (the rising cost of beer here is a whole other subject) and I go outside, and there’s this Mad Max smell everywhere. Turns out that, as of the Times-Picayune’s reporting this morning, we have a 400,000 gallon fuel oil spill in the Mississippi, just slightly down river from our water plant.

Holy fucking shit. There is something so apocalyptic about this that I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around it. What’s even more profound is that only a few people seem really excited about this.

Is this because the Mississippi is the nation’s urinary canal, carrying tons of nitrates and pesticides past us each day?

Is this because this shit (after treated in a local treatment plant) is what comes out of our tap?

I can still recall post-Katrina when you literally could not drink or even bathe in the water. I still recall my lover at the time spraying herself down with frebreeze as her daily shower.

Welcome to the future.