Chemical Plant Explosion in New Orleans

Feature story - September 2, 2005

On September 2, pre-dawn hours in New Orleans glowed red, but it wasn’t the sunrise. An explosion at one of the city’s chemical storage facilities woke hurricane survivors, who were forced yet again to evacuate the area, this time due to the risk of toxic exposure. According to reports, a chain of railcar explosions soon followed, and the vibrations were felt as far away as downtown. A black cloud hovered over the plant as the result of a chemical fire. Officials claimed the cloud did not contain toxins, but warned residents and camera crews to immediately evacuate the vicinity nonetheless.

This latest incident of possible toxic exposure adds to the devastation already evident in New Orleans, and to the long-term risk to survivors of Katrina. It also adds to the urgent need to immediately rescue thousands of stranded people from New Orleans.

One of Many

This explosion occurred at one of many chemical facilities found in the New Orleans area.  Our research has uncovered more than 350 petroleum facilities, chemical plants and hazardous waste sites that are located in an area affected by Hurricane Katrina.

These facilities store hundreds of thousands of pounds of hazardous substances.  The Environmental Protection Agency has an obligation to inspect and test for chemical contamination in addition to biohazards at these facilities.

On August 30, Greenpeace submitted a Freedom of Information Request to the EPA asking for copies of EPA's plans to prevent contamination from petro-chemical plants and to test drinking water sources, soil and air in communities before they are re-occupied.

Lend a Hand

The situation in New Orleans has reached a crisis point.  If you would like to make a donation to help in the efforts, the following groups are working on the ground to help the survivors:

More on Katrina's Impacts

Following the massive storm surge, the chemical plants flooded, releasing untold amounts of toxic poisons.