Caption, above: Oil-slicked water floods a New Orleans neighborhood. (

Good Lord. This article is from You have to be a member to read the whole thing. However, I think there are going to be plenty of similar articles in the weeks and months to come.

This is unreal. Are Americans ready to wake up? Will parts of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast ever be inhabitable during our lifetimes?

Here is the beginning of the article at

"The entire community is now a toxic waste dump"
The Gulf Coast is drowning in a poisonous stew, people are dying from waterborne bacteria, and federal funds have been drained by years of pro-industry policies. Katrina is one of the worst environmental catastrophes in U.S. history.

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By Rebecca Clarren

Sept. 9, 2005 | From 500 feet in the air, Chris Wells, a geographer with the U.S. Geological Survey, looked with dismay on the landscape pounded and then abandoned by Hurricane Katrina. As Wells flew on Wednesday above the Louisiana coastline, across New Orleans, the marshlands south of the city, and over Mississippi, nearly every tree was snapped, their limbs twisted around in a braid, the bark shredded right off the trunk. The marshland below looked as though somebody had taken a spatula and scraped away the marsh grasses, leaving a sea of mud. Aside from a number of shorebirds, and one 8-foot alligator swimming about 20 miles offshore, Wells saw no wildlife. What he did see were streaks of oil, some miles long and 200 yards wide.

"It was on any body of water of any significance," he says. Hundreds of thousands of inland acres are covered with a spotty sheen of oil. "The landscape right now is absolutely bizarre and unreal," Wells says, from his home in Lafayette, La. "It's emotionally draining. Even if nobody was hurt, it's heartbreaking to see what has happened to the environment."

Wells suspects that much of the oil has drained from thousands of boats lying at the bottom of countless bayous, canals, and the ocean. Within the impacted area are at least 2,200 underground fuel tanks, many potentially ruptured, says Rodney Mallett, spokesperson for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. Officials also predict that thousands of cars, lawn mowers and weed-eaters are also submerged, leaking gas and oil into the waterways.

In addition, tens of thousands of barrels of oil have spilled from refineries and drilling rigs in at least 13 sites between Lake Pontchartrain and the Gulf of Mexico. Along the coast, Katrina damaged 58 drilling rigs and platforms in the Gulf, according to, an oil and gas industry Web site. At least one rig has sunk and another was swept 66 miles through the gulf before washing up on Dauphin Island. It remains unclear how badly the hundreds of underwater pipelines connecting the oil to shore have been damaged.

Yet the destruction that Wells witnessed from the sky is only the most visible element of a poisonous stew bubbling in Katrina's wake. On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that bacteria in the water flooding Gulf Coast areas are at 10 times the agency's standard for human health, and already four people have died from waterborne bacteria. Read entire story


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