The Press Recant Another New Orleans Prediction – Floodwaters AREN’T Toxic

Remember all those media predictions about the toxic nature of the floodwaters in New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina?  Well, it appears that much like their prognostications of casualties, how long it was going to take to drain the city, and the likely devastation to America’s economy, this too was an extraordinary exaggeration.

Here’s a sampling of the press opinions concerning this water made shortly after Katrina hit:

  • ABC News reported on September 6: "Thousands of hurricane survivors who spent hours trapped in or wading through floodwaters likely exposed themselves to a wide range of bacteria and other contaminants.”
  • Reuters reported on September 7: “The brew of chemicals and human waste in the New Orleans floodwaters will have to be pumped into the Mississippi River or Lake Pontchartrain, raising the specter of an environmental disaster on the heels of Hurricane Katrina, experts say.”
  • The Christian Science Monitor reported on September 8: “Chemicals leaking from cars and factories will cause one of costliest environmental cleanups ever.” 

Yet, today: 

  • The Washington Post reported: “The floodwater that covered New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was not unusually toxic and was ‘typical of storm water runoff in the region,’ according to a study published yesterday.”

  • The New York Times reported: “Tests of the floodwater that filled New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina show lower levels of toxic chemicals than had been feared, researchers reported yesterday.”
  • USA Today reported: “The New Orleans floodwaters described as toxic in news accounts of Hurricane Katrina's impact were actually about as dangerous as the city's normal storm water runoff, according to surprised researchers at Louisiana State University.”
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.