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Posted: 9/6/2005 1:54:35 PM EDT
Sept. 6, 2005 — Thousands of hurricane survivors who spent hours trapped in or wading through floodwaters likely exposed themselves to a wide range of bacteria and other contaminants.

Microbiologist Paul Pearce found total sewage bacteria in a water sample from in New Orleans' Ninth Ward to be 45,000 times what would be considered safe for swimming in a pond or a lake. The Ninth Ward was one of the city's hardest-hit neighborhoods.

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"In terms of total microorganisms in floodwater, this is about as bad as it can get," Pearce told ABC News. Pearce also found 2.2 million parts per unit of human waste bacteria in the floodwater, which is off the charts.

On "Good Morning America," Pearce demonstrated at Nova Biologicals lab in Conroe, Texas, how polluted water glows under a black light. He first sampled normal pond water — the light barely glowing, indicating slight contamination. He then examined the floodwater, which fully lit up, a clear sign that the water was loaded with bacteria, according to Pearce.

Dirty Water Does a Body Bad

The precise extent of the contamination is not yet known. Louisiana's chief environmental officer today said there is no evidence yet that the New Orleans waterways are a toxic wasteland. He acknowledged the presence of fecal matter, fuel, oil and other contaminants, but said testing had not detected traces of truly toxic substances like pesticides and metals. A full analysis is expected in two days.

Nonetheless, officials are advising people in the region to avoid all contact with the trash-laden, brown water flowing through the city.

"The health problems associated with sewage contamination and specifically with these types of organisms can be gastrointestinal problems, dysentery, diarrhea," Pearce said. He also found low levels of what appears to be the bacteria associated with cholera and salmonella.

Pearce stressed that simply coming into contact with the floodwater could be enough to make a person sick. Drinking the water should be out of the question.

However, some said they had little choice but to be exposed to the fetid waters. One woman, who was walking through the water, said anything was better than her time spent living in the Superdome, which had by the end of last week turned into a chaotic location strewn with garbage and human waste that evacuees were desperate to leave.

"If I had a choice to be in the water or in the dome it would be the water," said Connie Craig.

And although food, fresh water and support have started trickling in New Orleans, Pearce fears that the huge amount of sewage contamination may cause problems long after the floodwaters recede.

"Just because the water's gone does not mean the contaminating bacteria are gone," Pearce said.

Link Posted: 9/6/2005 2:04:41 PM EDT
Just one more reason to bulldoze the city of New Orleans
Link Posted: 9/6/2005 2:08:32 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/6/2005 2:09:12 PM EDT
And now we know why a filter needs to remove 99.999% of all the bad stuff in water...

Link Posted: 9/6/2005 2:17:49 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/6/2005 2:19:31 PM EDT by twonami]
according to the doc they had on FOXnews earlier the dirty water is no problem unless you have a open wound or drank it.
Jeez, who do you believe?
Link Posted: 9/6/2005 2:19:17 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/6/2005 2:19:46 PM EDT by FourStringSlinger]

Originally Posted By twonami:
according to the doc they had on FOXnews earlier the dirty water is no problem unless you have a open wound or drank it



"Pearce stressed that simply coming into contact with the floodwater could be enough to make a person sick. Drinking the water should be out of the question."


ETA I'll take this dude's word for it....
Link Posted: 9/6/2005 2:19:57 PM EDT
My filter (MSD WaterWorks Ceramic) would get everything but chemical stuff. Still, it would take forever. I've filtered still lake water in designated wilderness areas, and it clogged up pretty quick. Cleaning it got old pretty quick. I can't imagine how much of a pain in the ass it would be in NOLA.
Link Posted: 9/6/2005 2:20:52 PM EDT

Originally Posted By FourStringSlinger:

Originally Posted By twonami:
according to the doc they had on FOXnews earlier the dirty water is no problem unless you have a open wound or drank it



"Pearce stressed that simply coming into contact with the floodwater could be enough to make a person sick. Drinking the water should be out of the question."


I trust the 2nd opinion more. the idea that a open wound or drinking is the only way to get fucked-up sounded like BS to not cause a panic in the herd
Link Posted: 9/6/2005 2:21:23 PM EDT
Reuters

By Jim Loney
BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (Reuters) - Hurricane Katrina left behind a landscape of oil spills, leaking gas lines, damaged sewage plants and tainted water, Louisiana's top environment official said on Tuesday.

In the state's first major assessment of the environmental havoc in southern Louisiana, Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Mike McDaniel said large quantities of hazardous materials in damaged industrial plants, the danger of explosions and fires and water pollution were his main concerns eight days after the storm struck.

Preliminary figures indicate 140,000 to 160,000 homes were flooded and will not be recovered, he said. "Literally, they are unsalvageable," he said.

He said it would take "years" to restore water service to the entire city.

"It's almost unimaginable, the things we are going to have to deal with," he said.

Crews have found two major oil spills, one of 68,000 barrels at a Bass Enterprise storage depot in Venice and another of 10,000 barrels at a Murphy Oil facility in Chalmette, McDaniel said.

But huge amounts of oil also oozed from cars, trucks and boats caught in the flood.

"Everywhere we look there's a spill. It all adds up," he said. "There's almost a solid sheen over the area right now."

High-level radiation sources, including nuclear plants, have been secured, and authorities were trying to determine the status of rail cars in the area as well as searching out large caches of hazardous materials in industrial plants.

Although there is a disease risk from contaminated water in the streets of New Orleans, McDaniel said it was too early to call the stagnant liquid a "toxic soup." State and federal agencies had begun quality testing.

"I'm saying that's a little bit exaggerated," he said. "To say it's toxic, it sounds like instant death walking in it. Let's get some better data."
Independent experts have said the New Orleans flood water, may cause environmental damage as it flows from the city to Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River.

More than 500 Louisiana sewage plants were damaged or destroyed, including 25 major ones. There were about 170 sources of leaking hydrocarbons and natural gas, officials said.

Katrina damaged large areas of wildlife habitat but it was too soon to assess the long-term impact, McDaniel said.

"One thing about nature, it's resilient," he said. "Nature will recover."

Link Posted: 9/6/2005 2:24:35 PM EDT
NO water out of the tap on a good day is risky business. Many studies on cancer incidences by location show NO, Mobile and many other areas that draw water from the end of an industrialized watershed to have higher incidences of bladder cancer, etc. Also makes crappy beer (Dixie).
Link Posted: 9/6/2005 2:25:27 PM EDT
Reuters

By Jim Loney
BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (Reuters) - The toxic brew of chemicals and human waste in the New Orleans floodwaters will have to be pumped into the Mississippi River or Lake Pontchartrain, raising the specter of an environmental disaster on the heels of Hurricane Katrina, experts say.

The dire need to rid the drowned city of water could trigger fish kills and poison the delicate wetlands near New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico at the mouth of the Mississippi.

State and federal agencies have just begun water quality testing but environmental experts say the vile, stagnant chemical soup that sits in the streets of the city known as The Big Easy will contain traces of everything imaginable.

"Go home and identify all the chemicals in your house. It's a very long list," said Ivor van Heerden, head of a Louisiana State University center that studies the public health impacts of hurricanes.

"And that's just in a home. Imagine what's in an industrial plant," he said. "Or a sewage plant."

Gasoline, diesel, anti-freeze, bleach, human waste, acids, alcohols and a host of other substances must be washed out of homes, factories, refineries, hospitals and other buildings.

In Metairie, east of New Orleans, the floodwater is tea-colored, murky and smells of burned sulfur. A thin film of oil is visible in the water.

Those who have waded into it say they could see only about 1 to 2 inches into the depths and that there was significant debris on and below the surface.

Experts said the longer water sat in the streets, the greater the chance gasoline and chemical tanks -- as well as common containers holding anything from bleach to shampoo -- would rupture.

Officials have said it may take up to 80 days to clear the water from New Orleans and surrounding parishes.

SECOND DISASTER?
Van Heerden and Rodney Mallett, communications director for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, say there do not appear to be any choices other than to pump the water into Lake Pontchartrain or the Mississippi River, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico, a key maritime spawning ground.

"I don't see how we could treat all that water," Mallett said.

The result could be an second wave of disaster for southern Louisiana, said Harold Zeliger, a Florida-based chemical toxicologist and water quality consultant.

"In effect, it's going to kill everything in those waters," he said.

How much water New Orleans holds is open to question.

Van Heerden estimates it is billions of gallons. LSU researchers will use satellite imagery and computer modeling to get a better fix on the quantity.

Bio-remediation -- cleaning up the water -- would require the time and expense of constructing huge storage facilities, considered an impossibility, especially with the public clamor to get the water out quickly.

Mallett said the Department of Environmental Quality was in the unfortunate position of being responsible for protecting the environment in a situation where that did not seem possible.

"We're not happy about it. But for the sake of civilization and lives, probably the best thing to do is pump the water out," he said.

The water will leave behind more trouble -- a city filled with mold, some of it toxic, the experts said. After other floods, researchers found many buildings had to be stripped back to concrete, or razed.

"If you have a building half full of water, everything above the water is growing mold. When it dries out, the rest grows mold," Zeliger said. "Most of the buildings will have to be destroyed."

(Additional reporting by Paul Simao in New Orleans)

Link Posted: 9/6/2005 2:30:43 PM EDT
so you have floatign water with sewage, chemicals, petroleum, corpses (human and animal) in it, anythign i missed?


I htink they may have ot burn NO to the ground to take care of alot of this, especially the corpses and mold, I mean even if they rebuild there will be the risk of finding th eodd rottign corpse for years right? Unless they search absolutely everywhere....



Now, is NO th eplace where in the 90s they had a flood and the graveyards emptied out and caskets floated away? If so did this happen again?


Just curious how much rottign human flesh is sloughing off into the water there.....
Link Posted: 9/6/2005 4:52:06 PM EDT

Originally Posted By IAMLEGEND:
Reuters

By Jim Loney
BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (Reuters) - The toxic brew of chemicals and human waste in the New Orleans floodwaters will have to be pumped into the Mississippi River or Lake Pontchartrain, raising the specter of an environmental disaster on the heels of Hurricane Katrina, experts say.

The dire need to rid the drowned city of water could trigger fish kills and poison the delicate wetlands near New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico at the mouth of the Mississippi.

State and federal agencies have just begun water quality testing but environmental experts say the vile, stagnant chemical soup that sits in the streets of the city known as The Big Easy will contain traces of everything imaginable.

"Go home and identify all the chemicals in your house. It's a very long list," said Ivor van Heerden, head of a Louisiana State University center that studies the public health impacts of hurricanes.

"And that's just in a home. Imagine what's in an industrial plant," he said. "Or a sewage plant."

Gasoline, diesel, anti-freeze, bleach, human waste, acids, alcohols and a host of other substances must be washed out of homes, factories, refineries, hospitals and other buildings.

In Metairie, east of New Orleans, the floodwater is tea-colored, murky and smells of burned sulfur. A thin film of oil is visible in the water.

Those who have waded into it say they could see only about 1 to 2 inches into the depths and that there was significant debris on and below the surface.

Experts said the longer water sat in the streets, the greater the chance gasoline and chemical tanks -- as well as common containers holding anything from bleach to shampoo -- would rupture.

Officials have said it may take up to 80 days to clear the water from New Orleans and surrounding parishes.

SECOND DISASTER?
Van Heerden and Rodney Mallett, communications director for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, say there do not appear to be any choices other than to pump the water into Lake Pontchartrain or the Mississippi River, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico, a key maritime spawning ground.

"I don't see how we could treat all that water," Mallett said.

The result could be an second wave of disaster for southern Louisiana, said Harold Zeliger, a Florida-based chemical toxicologist and water quality consultant.

"In effect, it's going to kill everything in those waters," he said.

How much water New Orleans holds is open to question.

Van Heerden estimates it is billions of gallons. LSU researchers will use satellite imagery and computer modeling to get a better fix on the quantity.

Bio-remediation -- cleaning up the water -- would require the time and expense of constructing huge storage facilities, considered an impossibility, especially with the public clamor to get the water out quickly.

Mallett said the Department of Environmental Quality was in the unfortunate position of being responsible for protecting the environment in a situation where that did not seem possible.

"We're not happy about it. But for the sake of civilization and lives, probably the best thing to do is pump the water out," he said.

The water will leave behind more trouble -- a city filled with mold, some of it toxic, the experts said. After other floods, researchers found many buildings had to be stripped back to concrete, or razed.

"If you have a building half full of water, everything above the water is growing mold. When it dries out, the rest grows mold," Zeliger said. "Most of the buildings will have to be destroyed."

(Additional reporting by Paul Simao in New Orleans)




Jeez. Better and better....

Link Posted: 9/6/2005 4:55:27 PM EDT
I'm not a scientist, but it might have something to do with the dead bodies floating in it.

Maybe.

Link Posted: 9/6/2005 5:25:42 PM EDT

Originally Posted By garandman:
I'm not a scientist, but it might have something to do with the dead bodies floating in it.

Maybe.




Naw, that's just an urban legend.

Drinkin NOLA water is jes lik takin a punch!

Link Posted: 9/6/2005 5:44:34 PM EDT

Originally Posted By garandman:
I'm not a scientist, but it might have something to do with the dead bodies floating in it.

Maybe.




funny, just checked the cdc website cuz i.m leaving in a day or 2. Says there is no appreciable risk from corpses....
Link Posted: 9/6/2005 5:47:41 PM EDT
That water would make a nice ice cream float.
Link Posted: 9/6/2005 5:48:17 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/6/2005 6:20:35 PM EDT

Originally Posted By DoubleFeed:

McDaniel said it was too early to call the stagnant liquid a "toxic soup"
Why the hell does everybody think it is always too early for something? I've seen that phrase pop up over and over and over, all through this debacle.
When the government says it is too early, yesterday was the right time.




Yup.

My wife is an environmental scientist by trade, with a focus on water quality. She has worked as an investigator with the TCEQ and the city of Dallas stormwater department.

She read the original article I posted and agreed...that shit is toxic.


Link Posted: 9/6/2005 6:23:54 PM EDT

Originally Posted By FourStringSlinger:

Originally Posted By garandman:
I'm not a scientist, but it might have something to do with the dead bodies floating in it.

Maybe.




Naw, that's just an urban legend.

Drinkin NOLA water is jes lik takin a punch full power shot from Squatdog!


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