Justin Nobel | Longreads | July 2017 | 16 minutes (4,000 words)
If you’re visiting New Orleans and want to see something truly amazing, take your beer or daiquiri to-go and walk a few blocks past the Superdome—you’ll find a school being constructed on an old waste dump.
“All the toxins from the landfill are still there,” says toxicologist Wilma Subra. These toxins include lead, mercury, and arsenic, exposure to which can lead to reproductive damage, and skin and lung cancer. Even more astonishing, Subra says hundreds of schools across Louisiana have been built on waste dumps. Why? Dumps represent cheap land often already owned by a cash-strapped town or city, plus serve as rare high ground in a flood-prone state. And this is just the beginning of Louisiana’s nightmare.
The risk of cancer in Reserve, a community founded by freed slaves, is 800 times the national average, making the…
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