Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Friday, May 28, 2010 8:50 pm

Toxic mud, toxic politicians

Two Republicans, Louisana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser are trying to fast-track a two-decade-old proposal to dig up mud from Louisiana’s coastal areas to create artificial reefs offshore, ostensibly to protect the shore from hurricanes. This scheme is so eye-poppingly bad from both an environmental standpoint and a practical standpoint that it will make your eyes bleed just to read about it:

The shallows of the Gulf Coast are the anterooms of the Coast’s aquatic nurseries. Just under the surface, the shallows are lined with decades of toxic goo. Digging them up to protect against BP’s oil volcano makes as much sense as pulverizing neonatal ICU entrances to protect against asbestos in the hospital walls.

You see, the sediment that Nungesser and Jindal want to dig up has one other small problem. That sediment that washes down the Lower Mississippi? It’s thoroughly mixed with long-lasting and deadly persistent organic pollutants.

Not “organic” as in your local farmers’ market. “Organic” as in your local college’s chemistry lab. Sadly for southern Louisiana, the Mississippi carries the toxic pesticide runoff from the entire Corn Belt. Much of that waste travels right down to the Gulf. Worse still, for decades, the oil, gas and chemical industries clustered around the lower Mississippi’s “cancer alley” dumped many of the most deadly toxic wastes we’ve has ever created right into the water. The poor river, in turn, carries them downstream, and the uncounted tons of deadly goo irretrievably mix in with the sediments that make up the “shallows” off of Louisiana’s coast.

Those are the very same “shallows” Nungesser and Jindal want to heap up in piles off Louisiana’s already poisoned coast. It’s the perfect mechanism to ensure winds, tides and hurricanes carry the once-buried toxins inland to the marshes and wetlands. Yes, the ones these crackpots purport to be saving.

The piece claims the Coast Guard and the EPA are on board, although it doesn’t elaborate on exactly what the EPA’s role is. Although any role short of standing up and shouting, “Not just ‘no,’ but, ‘Hell, no!'” is probably inadequate.

My favorite part is that the “unidentified experts from the Netherlands” who are consulting on the plan turn out to be officials of the world’s third-largest dredging company.

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