“Clearing the Air: An Analysis of Air Emissions Report.”

clearingthe air

All available ambient air quality data gathered during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was reviewed, and a total of 127,188 samples of particulate matter and benzene were evaluated in detail. Ambient concentrations of fine particulate matter were generally higher during the oil spill than during the previous year and exceeded the Clean Air Act 12 ug/m3 standard in all of the Southeast Louisiana parishes studied (Jefferson, LaFourche, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, and Terrebonne). Similarly, ambient concentrations of benzene were generally higher during the oil spill than during the previous year and exceeded the Clean Air Act 10-in-a-million risk guideline in all of the parishes studied. These findings provide a basis for concluding that ambient air qualityfor particulate matter and benzenedid not meet public health standards during the oil spill. These findings contrast with the findings of NOAA, BP, and the CDC, which reported that ambient air concentrations during the spill were similar “to routine urban air concentrations” and that there were “no trends of public health concern related to the oil spill.” Ambient air concentrations that exceed health-based Clean Air Act standards should be a concern. The research results were translated into a set of community training materials that were delivered to residents in the impacted parishes. Evaluations were consistently positive and reflected residents’ satisfaction in being given access to the research results. (see full report)

New Orleans East Brownfields Survey

brownsfield_surveyChanges in New Orleans‘ economic and industrial landscape over time — accelerated by the impact of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 — have resulted in increasing numbers of unoccupied former commercial and industrial sites throughout the city. Many of these sites — known as brownfields — are challenged with possible environmental contamination, inhibiting their reuse and exacerbating problems associated with blight and vacancy.

Failing to address these sites through remediation and redevelopment can be hazardous to public and environmental health, reduce property values (and, by extension, tax revenues), and limit opportunities for economic growth and employment (Brownfields Center 2010). Many New Orleans neighborhoods were severely impacted by the storm and suffer acutely from blighted, vacant, and potentially hazardous brownfield sites.

Local, regional, state, and federal programs exist that focus on addressing brownfields and bringing them back into commerce. However, in order for these programs to work effectively there must first be an accurate list of potentially contaminated sites that may be eligible for grant assistance. To this end, the development of a comprehensive brownfield inventory is essential to comprehensive planning. (see full report)