SUMMARY: This is an art/science project in two parts. New Orleans, one of the most lead polluted cities in the U.S., has 86,000 properties with dangerously high levels of lead in the soil, placing thousands of children at risk for severe learning disabilities and behavioral problems, including violent crime. The repercussions of this post industrial hazard are an injustice to all; it undermines the health of our communities. Through OPERATION PAYDIRT, New Orleans has the potential to rescue other cities with the same issues, delivering a solution to a situation that compromises human health from birth.
OPERATION PAYDIRT will reach those communities most affected by unsafe lead. It will activate scientists, landscape architects and engineers, and engage children in a creative effort delivering their voices to Congress to solve the problem of lead contaminated soil in New Orleans. PAYDIRT has the potential to profoundly impact the health of society.
OPERATION PAYDIRT employs the following strategies:
• FUNDRED DOLLAR BILL PROJECT: This creative collective action supports PAYDIRT by raising local and national awareness of the hidden lead problem in New Orleans through the production of “FUNDRED DOLLAR BILLS” –original interpretations of hundred dollar bills—by K-12 school children nationwide. The goal is to have 3 million FUNDREDS drawn; 7000 lbs of drawings. These will be collected in participating states by a specially retrofitted armored truck and delivered to Washington DC to request of legislators an “even exchange” of the 3 million FUNDREDS for $300,000,000 in funds/services to support the implementation of a scientific solution to lead-related health issues still challenging post-disaster New Orleans.
• TLC/TREAT, LOCK, AND COVER: The lead in the soil will be treated with an amendment which locks it into a stable mineral formation that is made bio-unavailable (not able to be readily absorbed into the body) then covered with clean soil mined from the massive tonnage of earth moved daily by the Mississippi River. After coverage, sites will be landscaped. This process is estimated to cost $300 million to implement city wide. The project includes creation of a jobs program and collaboration with the Army Corps of Engineers.
PROBLEM SPACE: The nationwide outreach for FUNDRED has momentum and currently has support from several art foundations. This allows an important platform for awareness, education and social participation in contributing to a solution to environmental health and quality of life issues. This effort is focused both nationally and locally to reinforce a strong social network of support on a multitude of levels.
We project that the 3,000,000 FUNDRED DOLLAR BILLS will be completed by Fall, 2009, for pick-up and delivery to Washington, D.C. in the armored truck. Prior to the pick-up and delivery, conversations will be initiated with policy makers.
The initial stage of implementation required identification of the PAYDIRT TLC scientific team. Test sites in New Orleans have been identified and protocols for on-site testing established. We are currently identifying the professional team members with landscape design expertise to develop these aspects of the project.
The project has reached a critical point in development and we are seeking funding to support the necessary, one-year scientific test of the method we have developed. Drs. Mielke and Hunt will oversee the scientific protocol for maintaining the rigorous standards required to assure the integrity of the solution. Once testing has verified the TLC methodology the project will focus on development of specifications of local implementation.
SOLUTION: OPERATION PAYDIRT presents a solution to the lead pollution found in the soil of many urban centers that is undermining our environmental, physical, and social health. This soil pollution is a result of many years of leaded gas exhaust and the sanding and/or decaying of lead-based paints that sent particles into the air to eventually sink into the soil. The solution weds existing materials and technologies and creatively renegotiates existing governmental allocations to support its implementation. The proposed soil amendment, designed to induce metal stabilization, is currently available but has been used only on industrial sites. This will be the first use in urban settings. Verifiably clean Mississippi sediment, regularly accumulated in flood control process, is the source of the “cover”. Once the landscape is reseeded the soil is stabilized. We think this method can be replicated in cities around the country once proven in New Orleans.
CONTACT: [email protected]