For Immediate Release:

9/19/12

#OCCUPYISAAC SUSPENDS RELIEF OPERATIONS BECAUSE OF CHEMICAL CONTAMINATION

The Relief Effort Known as #OCCUPYISAAC Consisting of the Common Ground Collective, Food Not Bombs, and Occupy Have Ceased Operations In The Wake of Revelations of

Widespread Chemical Contamination in Palequemines Parish

After revelations of widespread contamination of the Palequemines Parish in South East Louisiana and contradictory filings by Stolthaven New Orleans LLC, #OccupyIsaac has suspended all relief activities. On Monday evening #KidKitchenVillage, a mobile kitchen set up in Phoenix, LA approximately 20 miles down river from the site of the chemical spill, was warned by authorities of the high potential of toxic & carcinogenic contamination in the area. These revelations in addition to an absence of interest in providing relief and rebuilding the area nationwide, led #OccupyIsaac to cease operations immediately.

The contradictory filings by Stolthaven, originally telling the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality that no more than 38,700 of relatively safe chemicals were spilled on September 4th and then on September 11th disclosing to the Coast Guard’s National Response center that not only were these two “relatively safe” oil based chemicals released but also no more than 119,000 gallons of highly toxic Octene. Stolthaven admitted to the Coast Guard that at least 65,857 gallons of the Octene were spilled during Hurricane Isaac. This admission that over 65,857 gallons of the highly toxic chemical Octene were spilled into the floodwaters that swamped many residents homes and in which rescue workers worked, after initially claiming that only 38,700 gallons of ‘relatively safe’ oil based products were released, shows a history of obfuscation of the facts and casts doubt on the veracity of this latest filing.

Octene has been shown to be harmful and dangerous to the environment. It is extremely toxic to aquatic organisms and has been shown to create adverse long term effects in aquatic environments. In addition to being extremely harmful for the fragile ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico and bayou wetlands of Southern Louisiana that are still recovering from the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in 2010, exposure to Octene has been shown to cause lung damage and lung cancer. The prospect of not only first responders and relief workers being exposed to this chemical as they worked to save people but disaster victims returning to their houses & being exposed to this chemical is tragic.

“It would be irresponsible for #OccupyIsaac to expose our volunteers and our families to extremely toxic chemicals. Despite the fact that the news media has failed to report on the dire need to rebuild New Orleans & the outlying Parishes, to restore the wetlands of South East Louisiana, and the dire fundraising outlook being experience by relief organizations across the board, #OccupyIsaac activists were content to finance the relief effort out of our own pockets. Many organizers have accepted that they will not be reimbursed for the money that they have spent up front in order to make this relief effort a reality. However now that we have learned that not only have the victims of Hurricane Isaac and the already fragile wetland ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico been exposed to toxic chemicals, but also that relief workers responding to this disaster have been knowingly exposed to harmful chemicals in an attempt by Stolthaven to shirk responsibility for this potentially devastating chemical spill, we can no longer in good conscience continue our relief efforts,” said Gary Roland, and organizer for the effort.

The #OccupyIsaac relief effort was a collaboration between activists and relief workers affiliated with the Common Ground Collective, Food not Bombs and the #Occupy movement, to provide relief, rebuild, and restore South East Louisiana. “The inability of the current neo-liberal status quo under both the Bush and Obama regimes to make commitments to rebuild vital infrastructure and restore vital ecosystems in South East Louisiana since Katrina is ensuring that New Orleans sinks into the toxic sludge of the Gulf of Mexico & exists as a Post Neo-Liberal Globalization wasteland,” said Gary Roland. “New Orleans is the birthplace of Jazz and is emblematic of the melting pot of American Culture. It is also extremely important to global commerce, as combined the ports in South East Louisiana are the largest in the United States and third largest in the world. The fact that none of the wealth generated in this city actually benefits the residents of the city is emblematic of the problems that all people face in the post-globalization economic landscape marked by soaring inequality. The inability of the status quo to act or even identify that there is a problem with their environmental and economic policies, present an enormous opportunity for activists in the post neo-liberal globalization social movements sometimes referred to as Occupy, to put their money where their mouth is and rebuild South East Louisiana according to the tenants of Localism and Environmental Sustainability.”

Malik Rahim, Common Ground Collective Co-Founder and New Orleans native, said, “The way the Gulf goes, is the way that America will go, and therefore the world.”

Although the #OccupyIsaac has ceased its relief operations the Common Ground Collective will offer safety manuals/materials and operate a Disaster Tool Library for returning residents.

According to Bill Quigley’s article “Katrina Pain Index 2012: Seven Years Later”, Louisiana imprisons more of its people per head than any other state, New Orleans has the second highest homeless rate in the country, New Orleans ranks 2nd in the highest rate of inequality among cities over 10K in the United States, 21% or residential addresses in New Orleans have been abandoned or blighted, 27% of the residents of New Orleans live in poverty, and a third of low income mothers in New Orleans still suffer from PTSD related to Katrina.

 

LINKS:

Interoccupy Hub: http://interoccupy.net/occupyisaac/

Twitter Handle: @occupy_isaac

“Katrina Pain Index 2012: Seven Years Later”, By Bill Quigley http://huff.to/Qe5BQd

“Hurricane Isaac not Producing Outpouring of National Support”, by Bruce Nolan http://bit.ly/S3bake

“Braithwaite neighbors speak out after report shows potential massive chemical spill”, http://bit.ly/Od7gWE

“Report, Photos Show Evidence of Potential Isaac-Caused Chemical Spill in Plaquemines” http://bit.ly/QeWMou

“Report: Isaac damaged 2 tanks, chemicals leaked”, http://bit.ly/S5NQ0F

“Stolhaven Accident: 191,000 gallons of chemicals, including carcinogens, released into Gulf”, http://bit.ly/NAk3AU

Safety information on Octene: http://bit.ly/UewS6X

 

 

For Press Inquires Please Email:

isaacpr@interoccupy.net

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