Covering this landscape was a brown, filmy sediment left behind by Katrina’s polluted floodwaters, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) early tests showed had high levels of E. coli bacteria, oil and gas chemicals, lead, and varying quantities of arsenic. Other tests also found benzo(a)pyrene and petroleum hydrocarbons at levels above the EPA’s safe limit standards.2 Coastal towns became contaminated when the hurricane lifted up bayou sludge, polluted for decades by industrial chemicals, heavy metals, and organic petrochemicals.
Moshman, Rachael and John Hardenbergh. "The Color of Katrina: A Proposal to Allow Disparate Impact Environmental Claims." Sustainable Development Law & Policy, Spring 2006, 15-16, 73.