oil spill on the mighty miss redux

Jul 25, 2008 by

The following is an email I received this morning from Mayor Nagin’s press office, verbatim, and unedited:


The following updates are from the Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security

At 2 p.m. today, the directors and staff of the Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security and Public Safety participated in the fourth conference call of federal, state and local agencies who are managing a barge incident which occurred Wednesday on the Mississippi River. The following updates are as of 2 p.m. today.

* The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) has confirmed that the department is still monitoring the air quality around Algiers and is categorizing the air quality as “good”. The department is also obtaining water samples around the water intake areas and performing tests to ensure the safety of the citizens of Algiers.
* The Sewerage and Water Board laboratory staff has been collecting and analyzing water from the intake since Wednesday morning. All samples have been normal and revealed no evidence of elevated contaminants. The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals also will provide additional testing of the samples. The Sewerage and Water Board called in an environmental cleanup company on Wednesday. That company will remain on the job until the incident is concluded.
* The City’s independent environmental sampling contractor, Materials Management Group (MMG), has completed obtaining the samples from the Algiers Sewage and Water Board station. The delivery of these samples to the lab has been confirmed. Results of the Hydrocarbon tests are anticipated before noon tomorrow. The results of the samples taken for Volatile, Semi-Volatile and Heavy Metals will be expected within the next few days.
* The United States Coast Guard has reported that one of their major concerns is returning the flow of vessel traffic on the river so that commerce can be re-established to the region. They are developing plans and timelines to accomplish this task, but at this time the river is closed to vessel traffic.
* The United States Coast Guard has confirmed that salvage divers are in the water inspecting the barge and that a salvage plan is being developed.
* The United States Coast Guard is developing a plan to clean the #6 fuel oil from the vessels in the port so that traffic can resume on the river.
* The United States Coast Guard has reported that 58 vessels are in the area of impact with 37 vessels above the area waiting to exit and 48 vessels in the Gulf of Mexico waiting to enter.


Please note that they only specifically mention “ensuring the safety of the citizens of Algiers,” which is the westbank, and don’t mention the other side of the river at all. The other side of the river includes such important tourist attractions as the historic French Quarter and MY FUCKING HOUSE. The one where my kids live.

This is a red flag. Don’t drink the water, neighbors. And try not to breathe the air. We are actually witnessing half-dead insects stumbling and staggering IN DOORS to escape the fumes. Yesterday the air smelled like an ammonia-laced toxic cloud, and today the whole neighborhood smells like a low-budget diesel gas pump. Tomorrow’s menu: dirty feet in hot fudge mustard sauce for all I know.

The “major concern” is restoring vessel traffic to the river. FUCK the densely populated residential areas only feet away from the spill who are being poisoned while still recovering from the last botched disaster response.

No evidence of elevated contaminants. The headache, dizziness and constant nausea you are experiencing is a figment of your imagination, suckers.

Almost makes me nostalgic for the smell of Clorox and piss that permeates the air during the last few days of Mardi Gras, or even the sickeningly sweet odor of dead cats and Lime-Away we had to endure immediately after the storm.

Searching for details in the national news media? Good luck, it ain’t there.

This shit is not good for my blood pressure. File this one under “fuck me running.”

Yeah, I’m pissed.


UPDATE, 7-25-2008, 1:48 PM: This just in, the New York Times takes notice and chimes in:




The Sound of Building Coffins by Louis Maistros is due for publication from The Toby Press in March 2009.

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