September 16, 2005

Fly E.P.A.


This subject might not be too popular, but the old environmentalist in me just can’t pass it by.

A few days ago, I wrote about the tendency for photojournalist to become a little too artistic in the face of environmental problems.  I also cited an article in the NYT reporting (in the last few paragraphs) that the military was to begin spraying insecticide over New Orleans, even though several thousand people were still in the city and this kind of spraying had never been done before over a large urban area.

Searching under the terms “Katrina” and “pesticide” I was actually surprised to find these images this afternoon.  Of course, I wasn’t surprised they were so beautiful and well composed.

Beyond the visuals, I’m a little worried about Mayor Nagin’s urgency to have people return to four of the drier neighborhoods within the next few days.  When asked about environmental concerns — such as the quality of the water supply, and the known tendency of dried sludge to release toxic contaminants into the air — Nagin downplayed the problems.  Speaking on Tuesday, he said that he was awaiting a report from the E.P.A. on air and water quality in the neighborhoods in question.

And that sounds fine, except that Nagin is a former marketing guy — and one day later, the New Orleans Homeland Security Chief, and the public affairs officers at both the E.P.A. and the Louisiana State Department of Environmental Quality indicated they knew nothing about a such report.

Meanwhile, yesterday’s environmental update in the Times had no follow up on the spraying.

(images:  AP Photo /Brian Snyder, pool.  A military C-130 sprays pesticide over parts of New Orleans, Louisiana. Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2005. YahooNews)

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Michael Shaw
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