New Orleans opens new landfill without environmental safeguards

Without environmental studies or community consultation, a new landfill has been opened on the eastern edge of New Orleans. The site is less than two miles from a community of more than a thousand Vietnamese-American families and across a canal from the largest urban wildlife refuge in the country. Oh, and the landfill will lack certain safeguards, because the government says Hurricane Katrina-generated trash is cleaner than other garbage — even though the definition of demolition debris was expanded in the wake of the storm to include most house contents, from moldy furniture to electronics to bleach. “[T]here’s nothing toxic, nothing hazardous. There will be no impact [on the community],” says Chuck Carr Brown of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, which issued the landfill permit. Not so, says a Vietnamese reverend worried about groundwater contamination and vowing to fight the landfill: “They’re threatening our very existence.”