When buildings are destroyed their toxic waste is released into the environment one way or another. Dust and fire spread pollutants into the atmosphere; waste left to decay seeps into the soil. When the World Trade Center and surrounding buildings went down, toxic fumes polluted lower Manhattan. Many of the first responders and some of the nearby residents are sick today from the fumes and dust.
Some years ago in upstate New York, a tornado leveled a barn that served as my studio. The rules there forbid burning the barn’s remains, but one could bury them. My former welding shop was buried on the same spot it once stood, oil furnace and all. By the next year grass grew on the burial site. Had I not been in a hurry to move on, I could have rescued tons of wood beams that made up the shop and recycled them, a process that would have caused the least amount of damage to the environment (though it would have cost lots of time and money). Is burying waste better then burning it?
In New Orleans, during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, houses were washed off their foundations, and their contents, from computers to household chemicals, spread around the area. Oil spills streamed through parts of St. Bernard Parish. Much of the toxic waste went into the ground. Some was carted to off to a dump in New Orleans east while some waste remains today, rotting in place.
Six Flags New Orleans amusement park in eastern New Orleans, LA, closed since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The grounds are on low lying land owned by the city of New Orleans and have not been redeveloped. To see more images from Six Flags, click here.
Some badly damaged sites, like Press Park, had been built on toxic ground in the first place, How do you dispose of the units still standing? A decision has yet to be reached. The belongings of former residents remain, as if time stood still.
To see more images from New Orleans click here