The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

12 September 2005

The Big Greasy

Steel Turman throws cold water on the very idea of making New Orleans livable again; what's left behind after the flood water recedes "makes Chernobyl look like a small grease fire in your neighbor's kitchen." To wit:

Katrina flooded hundreds and hundreds of businesses and warehouses. These contained such nasties as solvents used in cleaning, degreasing, the manufacture of plastics, the computer industry, the making of paints and creation of other solvents. They also contained chemicals like sodium hydroxide (lye), potassium hydroxide (potash), dioxins found in older electrical transformers in the form of PCBs, chromic acid used for a myriad of applications llike rechroming, sulphuric, hydrochloric, nitric and ascorbic acids. So too, will be tons and tons of chemicals like carbon tetrachloride, tri-chlorethane, tri-chlorethylene, hexachlorophene and several others whose general use was banned in the early 1970s. Trust me, when they were banned, many enterprising folks stockpiled them. New Orleans is home to one of only a couple of plants where ethelylene glycol is made. That would be anti-freeze to you. The flooded hospitals will cough up radiological agents like strontium 90, plutonium and cesium all used for xrays. They will also yield many many biohazard critters like HIV AIDS, tuberculosis, streptococcus, staphlococcus, an assortment of exotic tropical disease samples and formeldahyde. It is impossible to imagine how many fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other agricultural chemicals were innudated. There will be entire vats of tannic acid used in tanning, zinc used in galvanizing, 'liquor' from pulp facilities, alcohol, paint, a wide gamut of petroleum products, ether, MBE, mercury, chlorine, fluorine, a veritable pharmacopia of drugs and hormones from the health industry and assorted rare earths, salts and obscure heavy metals.

And that's just the inorganics:

There will be thousands of tons of human and animal waste, same for decaying flesh and plant matter. And then there's the bacteria. Just stop a second and consider the huge variety of bacteria to be found in sub-tropical New Orleans. And all of this organic material will LOVE all the vitamins and growth stimulants and nutrients in this slop. It will BLOOM.

Clean it up? Forget about it:

In any other place with even one 100th of this level of contamination, the topsoil would be scraped to a depth of 18 inches minimum and that soil would be incinerated. But the sheer size and scope of the affected area almost precludes that.

I think this would probably discourage me from Mardi Gras for a while.

(Via Daily Pundit.)

Posted at 1:53 PM to Dyssynergy

Oh please. Like the rest of the country isn't contaminated up the yin-yang.

Really, I think NOLA will be fine as long as they destink the place, use PVC pipes to get water in, and don't lick the ground with their tongues.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 2:23 PM on 12 September 2005

They'll never give up licking the ground with their tongues. :)

Actually, I'm thinking (and so is Mr Turman) that the big issue is not the enormous quantity of crap, but the enormous number of crap-related lawsuits that are bound to ensue.

Posted by: CGHill at 2:31 PM on 12 September 2005

If I were dictator of America I'd ban all lawsuits.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 3:12 PM on 12 September 2005

We took up the matter of New Orleans at the NA meeting tonight, and decided that the poorer quarters will be gentrified out of existence — literally scraped away — and there will remain a city of 200,000 or so living no lower than the second floor.

How do I go about supporting your bid for despotism? (And is there anything in it for me?)

Posted by: CGHill at 8:12 PM on 12 September 2005

Crush my enemies! We will make you Grand Vizier. As long as you accept my will WITHOUT QUESTION.

After banning lawsuits I will outlaw all water sports where the participants have to wear little hats and hit things with mallets, issue cattle prods to bus drivers ("I said 'no we don't carry change'! Off the bus!") and make the possession of Miracle Whip salad dressing within 500 feet of my palace a capital offense with the penalty of being drowned in a butt of malmsey.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 8:29 PM on 12 September 2005

...make the possession of Miracle Whip salad dressing within 500 feet of my palace a capital offense...

This could be the deal-breaker for me.

I wholeheartedly support making the possession of mayonnaise anywhere a capital offense (not that the stuff won't kill its user eventually anyway), but hands off the Miracle Whip!

Posted by: McGehee at 11:10 AM on 13 September 2005

Most of the stuff is dissolved in the water that is being pumped out. Don't worry, even though there may have been tons, the dilution factor is pretty high, and when it is all over, you will barely be able to detect it, if you can at all.

The radioactive stuff from the hospital is mostly canned up and not free to get away. The dilution factor for what isn't is likewise something to make it unlikely to be a problem.

Finally, the bacteria? That's what's causing the decaying material, they are everywhere already, staph, strep, everywhere. The only one that is to worry would be the TB, it might survive and not have already been hanging around everywhere, but again the overall dilution factor and the fact that the water is being pumped out makes the worry pretty small. TB would be a much greater worry at the Astrodome, if anyone has an active case. HIV wouldn't survive in the water at all.

Posted by: Eric at 7:42 PM on 13 September 2005