Typically, my news day starts with a search through Reddit, Facebook, and Instagram for any type of relevant news story. Rarely ever do I Google the city of New Orleans, but when I do, it’s typically because it’s a slow news day. Yesterday happened to be one of those slow news days, so I dove into the depths of Google and searched for anything NOLA newsworthy.
To my surprise, I stumbled upon a Buzzfeed report about our city and was startled at the headline “New Orleans Officials Have Covered Up An Alarming Lead Report For Years.”
Not something I was hoping to read and the news did not get better from there. Buzzfeed’secret documents that allege that New Orleans failed to test for lead in the city’s highest-risk homes — and covered it up for years.” Double yikes.
An 84-page report detailed that the city failed multiple violations of federal law. Our system is outdated and the tests have not been updated since pre-Katrina. New Orleans has failed over the last decade to do much-needed lead testing, claiming the water was safe even after losing track of where the city’s many lead pipes are.
Buzzfeed is reporting that in 2016, “11% of the kids under 6 in New Orleans tested for blood lead showed concentrations at or above 5 micrograms per deciliter (the CDC maintains that no level of blood lead is safe for children). That’s far higher than the national figure — 2.5% of kids between 1 and 5 — and double the rate in Flint during the water crisis there, when 5% of kids tested had blood lead levels that high.”
That is an alarming number for the city of New Orleans.
Covering Up The Lead
Since NOLA’s records have not been updated in over 20 years, the “incomplete and unreliable information on the locations of lead service lines” have left NOLA residents vulnerable to the exposure of lead. The lack of transparency and knowledge of where these lead pipes are have left some city employees to create a system in which the results are truly fabricated.
“Some Sewerage and Water Board employees — including the former executive director and the agency’s then-spokesperson — took samples from their own homes, or solicited their friends, and included them as samples from high-risk homes, raising the possibility that the water board was deliberately gaming the system to make the results look better.”
The full report from Buzzfeed details decades of abuse and neglect at the hands of city employees. Read the full report, including testimonials from residents below.
A City Investigation Showed That New Orleans Had Botched Its Lead Testing For Years. Then The Report Was Buried.
science Secret documents obtained by BuzzFeed News allege that New Orleans failed to test for lead in the city’s highest risk homes – and covered it up for years. Posted on November 4, 2019, at 7:50 p.m.
Featured Image: Mathew Rader