Government Coverup of Dangerous Toxins in New Orleans

Marc Maron and Mark Riley, Morning Sedition, Air America Radio

Hugh Kauffman, a Senior Policy Analyst at the Environmental Protection Agency who specializes in emergency response, told Morning Sedition hosts Marc Maron and Mark Riley that a government cover-up is taking place right now, as we speak, to hide information about the dangerous toxins in the flood waters of the Gulf Coast region. Kauffman, a 35-year EPA veteran who has served in Republican and Democratic administrations, says that the Bush administration is preventing the EPA from releasing information that oil and chemical companies are mandated by law to provide. Kauffman says the Bush administration’s cover-up is endangering residents and relief workers throughout the Gulf Coast region, who are being exposed to dangerous levels of toxins, some of which have been proven to cause cancer and birth defects. Kauffman, who was the chief investigator for the 9/11 clean up, also said that the Bush administration engaged in the same practice after 9/11—covering up the truth about the dangers in the air and water and lying to the public in the weeks after the disaster. Kauffman said that over 75% of the heroes who responded to 9/11 have gotten sick and in some cases have died because of exposure to toxins at Ground Zero, and that he fears a similar fate will befall relief workers and residents in the Gulf Coast now.

MARC: Is the government being honest with the people about the safety of the air and water in New Orleans right now?

HUGH: No, they’re not. All of the oil and chemical companies that own storage tanks, facilities in that area that were flooded or impacted are required to publish with our regional office in Dallas instantly—whenever there’s a release; whenever there’s a breakage from pipelines, from storage tanks, refineries. The regional office, under orders, is not releasing that information to the public, and the Society of Environmental Journalists has sued EPA and the Federal Government to try and get that information released, so the public will see the full magnitude of how much toxic material they are being exposed to in that region of the country.

MARC: So, Hugh Kauffman, Senior Policy Analyst from the EPA, you’re telling me they have that information. The EPA office in Louisiana has that information, and you are absolutely sure that that information is horrendous, but they are keeping it under lock and key, because they don’t want the people to know the truth of what’s really going on down there on a toxic level?

HUGH: That’s correct. And that’s why the Society of Environmental Journalists are suing under the Freedom of Information act to try and get that information.

MARC: So the government is actively lying to the people about what’s going on there, and that is their policy now.

HUGH: That’s the policy as of last night at eleven o’clock when I went to sleep.

MARC: And that is the policy that happened in 9/11 as well, isn’t it, Hugh Kauffman?

HUGH: Same policy in 9/11. That’s correct. The heroes went in to try to help—were working for months in there—no respirators, no protective clothing, and now, four years later, over 75 % of those responding heroes are sick as dogs and they’re starting to die off, and I’m worried that that’s going to happen down the line down there. That’s why there are billions of dollars of law suites as a result of Nine Eleven, because of the government cover-up.