© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

EPA says Birds Point floodway testing shows no contamination problems

(via Flickr/NASA Earth Observatory)
Satellite images show the Birds Point-New Madrid floodway before (bottom) and after (top) the intentional breech of the levee. EPA testing found normal contaminant levels in the floodwater.

The federal Environmental Protection Association says it found no evidence of serious contamination in Mississippi River water released by the May 2 breech of the Birds Point levee in southeast Missouri.

The Army Corps of Engineers blew up the levee to relieve the flooding risk to Cairo, Ill.  In doing so, it covered 130,000 acres of Missouri farmland with several feet of water.

The EPA says testing it did on nine water samples collected May 24 (six from inside the floodway, three from outside) found that the levels of a series of contaminates - including certain types of pesticides and herbicides, metals, and petroleum products - were the same inside the floodway as outside.

The EPA says the tests also show the floodwaters will not present a danger to people working on the ongoing clean-up, but says those involved in the effort should wear the appropriate protective equipment.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.