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May 27, 2011 12:07 AM by Maddie Garrett

Trash and Chemicals Surface with Flood Waters

With rising flood waters comes another problem, trash and debris floating in that water. Litter and trash are an ongoing problem in Acadiana, but flood waters bring it to the surface.

The Morganza Spillway hasn't been opened for 38 years, so just think about all the trash, pesticides and fertilizer that once sat on dry land are now covered with flood waters.

"When they were talking about opening up the Morganza Spillway we worked with local sheriff's offices about talking to people about picking up their stuff," said Rodney Mallet with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

Mallet said prep work probably prevented a lot of household trash and chemicals from entering the flood waters. Officials went door-to-door helping people throw away trash and secure gas and chemicals. But you'll still see debris floating along in the Atchafalaya Basin.

"Things that you do when you litter, when you put trash in the street, when you put too much fertilizer in your yard, it's not treated and it goes down to the bayou," said Mallet.

As for the chemicals from industry and farm land, Mallett believes most of those pollutants will be so diluted that they won't have much negative effect on the environment.

"The amount of flood that we're seeing we believe the dilution is going to be pretty huge," he said.

Mallet said they have been conducting fly-overs and found a few areas in the Atchafalaya that appeared to have a chemical or oil sheen. He said the DEQ contacted the companies and plants responsible to get the contaminates cleaned up.

The DEQ and federal Environmental Protection Agency are conducting tests during and after the flood to determine how significant water pollution is from those chemicals.

 

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