Kim Fortun: worst case scenario potential in New Orleans

Because of my work on the Bhopal disaster, I follow worst case scenario potential in many places -- and the corridor between New Orleans and Baton Rouge has long been on my radar.  Worst case scenarios involve the catastrophic release of dangerous chemicals into the atmosphere and create "vulnerability zones" -- what many people call kill zones -- around an industrial facility.  A 2014 report  from  the Environmental Justice and Health Alliance documents how these zones are hotspots of environmental injustice in the United States. 

See this 2001 Greenpeace map. When Greenpeace made this map, there was a push (by organizations like the Competitive Enterprise Institute) to pull worst case scenario information off the Internet because of its potential use by terrorists.  Greenpeace pushed back in campaigns for "chemical security," arguing that the best way to reduce risk is to reduce the production, handling and use of dangerous chemicals -- laying ground for today's movement for a "just transition."  See just transition work in Lousiana by the another gulf is possible campaign 

Worst case scenarios came back into US national attention after the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas in 2014, prompting the Center for Effective Government's report, Kids in Danger Zones (showing that Houston and Port Arthus in Texas and Baton Rouge in Louisiana are the most high-risk metro areas in the United States).  See the Louisana Fact Sheet from the report (listing the highest risk facility in New Orleans as a wastewater treatment plant.). Note that the maps in the Center for Effective Government's report are no longer interactive -- pointing to a challenge the QA project is addressing: what we've termed "archiving for the anthropocene."  We need to figure out what archiving for the anthropocene should look like, how to build and sustain it, and how to put it to good use. 

Worst case scenarios have come back into controversy recently with Trump's EPA's saying that focus on worst case climate scenarios are unrealistic. Louisiana looks pretty bad....  see Propublica’s “Losing Ground.” 

The extreme weather that comes with climate change of course exacerbates worst case scenario risks.  See this on floods and chemical plant safety across the United States.  See this on the 2016 "thousand year" flood in Louisiana.  See this moderate recognition of the problem


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