Friday, September 02, 2005

Katrina: What to do with the toxic remains of a dead city

The Washington Post discusses the clean-up: Extraordinary Problems, Difficult Solutions:
...there may be nothing normal about New Orleans, because the floodwater, spiked with tons of contaminants ranging from heavy metals and hydrocarbons to industrial waste, human feces and the decayed remains of humans and animals, will linger nearby in the Gulf of Mexico for a decade.

"This is the worst case," Hugh B. Kaufman, a senior policy analyst at the Environmental Protection Agency, said of the toxic stew that contaminates New Orleans. "There is not enough money in the gross national product of the United States to dispose of the amount of hazardous material in the area."
My first thought is that New Orleans should be abandoned. Remove what must be removed then let the city fill. Perhaps that is a terrible idea. I guess what I see at the end is that the city should not be rebuilt as it was. If anything is going to be rebuilt it should be on a smaller scale with a focus on providing for the ports. A mini-city built on higher ground and surrounded by new wetlands. The new wetlands would be more in tune with what should be there naturally and the mini-city would on higher ground surrounded by a smaller but higher levee system. This new city of practical purpose should be minimal and really would exist only to provide a base for port operations. Cut the population down to 50,000. Last, I would suggest that this should be a green city. Rebuild it as a model of energy efficiency and green technology and put the burden on the energy industry.
I'd also add that the toxic stew currently brewing in the city should not just be dumped into the gulf untreated. Of course I don't have an answer there but I think some effort should be made to clean and filter the water before pumping it anywhere. There should be no hurry to get this job done. Get the people out and make it a know fact that the city as it was in no more. People should not return.

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