Friday, July 20, 2007

FEMA's screw-ups continue

As mentioned this morning, FEMA hasn’t finished screwing Katrina survivors just yet… now it’s because the trailers they put people in have levels of formaldehyde that was 75 times the recommended maximum for U.S. workers…

And it seems that FEMA not only suppressed warnings from its own field workers about health problems, but they had prior evidence that the people using the trailers would get sick;

“A trail of e-mails obtained by investigators shows that the agency’s lawyers rejected a proposal for systematic testing of the levels of potentially cancer-causing formaldehyde gas in the trailers, out of concern that the agency would be legally liable for any hazards or health problems. As many as 120,000 families displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita lived in the suspect trailers, and hundreds have complained of ill effects.”
Lovely… three months after reports of the hazards first surfaced a FEMA logistics expert said that FEMA’s legal department advised officials to not do testing for hazardous materials, because it would “imply FEMA’s ownership of this issue.”

On June 27, 2006, a Slidell man was found dead in his trailer after complaining about the formaldehyde fumes. In a conference call to discuss the death, 28 officials from six different agencies recommended that the circumstances be investigated and trailer air quality be subjected to independent testing.

FEMA lawyers rejected those suggestions…

So let me see if I have this right… the Bush(whacked) Administration put people in government trailers with toxic gas… despite warnings of such… and didn’t follow-through on suggested health tests all so they could avoid court troubles…

This on top of the well-known fact that the administration all but ignored these same people in the midst of a natural disaster.

My God… it’s almost hard to believe that this administration could be this callous… but then I think about Bush’s track record and it all makes sense.

But now, thankfully, and after six years of gop-led ignorance, we finally have a (Democratically-controlled) Congress that is more than willing to conduct oversight hearings on FEMA…which is, naturally, causing a LOT of people at FEMA to scramble like mad to keep up appearances.

And this past week, on the eve of a hearing by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, FEMA “suddenly” reversed course on the issue and said it has asked federal health officials to help conduct a new assessment of conditions in trailers.

Too little… too late…

The revelations of the agency’s earlier position of ignoring the problem has come to light, and it’s attracted some very harsh criticism… some very harsh bi-partisan criticism.

Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) decried what he called FEMA’s indifference to storm victims and said the situation was “sickening.” He said the documents “expose an official policy of premeditated ignorance” and added that “senior officials in Washington didn’t want to know what they already knew, because they didn’t want the legal and moral responsibility to do what they knew had to be done.”
Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (r-VA) said FEMA had obstructed the 10-month congressional investigation and “mischaracterized the scope and purpose” of its own actions. “FEMA’s reaction to the problem was deliberately stunted to bolster the agency’s litigation position,” Davis said. “FEMA’s primary concerns were legal liability and public relations, not human health and safety.”
It’s about time someone in Congress got these people’s backs…

Let’s hope we’re not too late…

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