Sierra Club Says Katrina Raised Pollution Levels Near Dupont Plant

The Sierrra Club says Hurricane Katrina has raised the level of toxins across the gulf coast. Chemicals like dioxin and arsenic were found in areas in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.

A Sierra Club spokesperson says the amount of contamination after the storm is alarming. The environmental group hired a chemist to take soil samples to find out just how much damage was done. High levels of arsenic were found across the coast.

* Moss Point near the former Rohm and Hass chemical plant

*Big Lake in Gulfport

* Pearlington Community in Hancock County

The Sierra Club says at all three of these sites the arsenic levels were 27 times over the EPA limit. Tests results also show unsafe levels of arsenic is the area surrounding Delisle Elementary school. Hundreds of elementary, middle and high school students are there almost every day.

Becky Gillette of the Sierra Club said "Arsenic was above EPA standards in all but one place tested in Mississippi and Alabama. In some cases more than 100 times over the limit so we think we have a big problem with arsenic that needs to be addressed.We can't just say there is arsenic everywhere. It's a heavy metal and it's dangerous."

A Pass Christian school administrator told us the school district has not been given any information about the study. Meanwhile, the Sierra Club's test results also showed high levels of dioxin immediately outside Dupont Plant in Deslise. Dupont officials say state testing tells a different story.

"MDEQ has had a number of inspections and they have filed a report that basically substantiates those findings of no adverse impact," said Pat Nichols, Dupont Delisle plant manager. "There will be another study done in another couple of weeks and we look forward to having that information as well. We believe that it will reaffirm the initial findings."

"We lost 31,000 homes on the Gulf Coast," said Gillette. "Do you think there was some miracle bubble around Dupont that meant that it was not affected by the 35-foot storm surge? I don't believe that."

A report on whether chemicals leaked from Dupont is due out soon by the EPA.

Dupont officials say the current issue of Business Week magazine has Dupont at the top of its list of environmentally friendly company.