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Buried far down in a CNN story on the meeting between Bush and New Orleans Mayor Nagin is this alarming item:

Oil spill in Delta

State officials have spotted a "major" oil spill in the Venice area of the Mississippi Delta region, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality said Friday.

In a written statement, the department said, "Two tanks, capable of holding 2 million barrels, appear to be leaking. Currently, there is no way to access the area."

It did not give the precise location of the spill. Venice is about 75 miles southeast of New Orleans.

So, how big is 2 million barrels? Very big.

According to the NationMaster encyclopedia, the capacity of the Exxon Valdez was 1.48 million barrels. (Note: 1 barrel contains about 42 gallons of oil.)

And National Geographic calls the Valdez spill "the biggest environmental disaster in the nation's history."

So what is being done to stop the spill? Again, from the CNN story: according to Louisiana DEQ, "Currently, there is no way to access the area."

Note: Several commenters have made the mistake of (a) mistaking barrels and gallons, and (b) claiming this had already been diaried. Neither is correct... Please, be respectful to fellow diarists and don't gratiutiously or sloppily criticize others...

It is understandable and proper that the focus now must be on saving human lives at imminent risk.

But 15 years after Valdez, says National Geographic, parts of Alaska still have not fully recovered. The costs (in every sense of the word) of a Valdez-scale spill off Lousiana could be felt for decades.

It is simply mind-boggling that an advanced industrial nation like ours could not have both swiftly addressed both humanitarian and environmental threats.

Has anyone found other news reports on this potential added fallout from Katrina? (UPDATE: At least the Times of Oman is spreading the news...)

Originally posted to Hudson on Fri Sep 02, 2005 at 01:35 PM PDT.

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