Wednesday, August 31, 2005


A New-New Orleans?

It won't be so simple

Last night I was talking to Donkey and suggested that perhaps, when they finally drain New Orleans and start to rebuild they should call it, New-New Orleans. Donkey had a more enlightening suggestions, saying that what was New Orleans is now likely to be the world's largest super-fund site, which will greatly complicate rebuilding. He has a good point.

Think about this for a minute. 80% of a city of roughly 500,000 people is under water. Bubbling up into this new lake are all the chemicals (normally safely contained) we use day in and day out as part of our day to day life. Gas stations are now leaking fuel in to the water, dry cleaning chemicals are leaching out too. Transformers and generators are perhaps leaking toxic PCPs into the flood waters. Then there is all the cars left behind and all the household and industrial chemicals that are being added to the stew. Through in the bodies of the victims and all the raw sewage (and those poisonous swamp critters!) and you have what the media is annoyingly calling - Toxic Gumbo.

So after they plug the leaks in the levies and drain the city. Buildings and homes may be coated with a layer of toxic goo that could require a more complicated remediation. We may not be able to just scrub up the walls, throw on a coat of paint and move on.

In the weeks ahead we may see the realization that reconstruction, which at this point is a difficult task, will be even more complicated as a result. A month to get things back on line seems pretty optimistic at this point.

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