The city of New Orleans has released a statement on the removal of hazardous materials in Gert Town about two weeks week after about 1,000 Gert Town neighbors filed a class-action suit against the city, according to media reports.
WWL-TV first reported on the hazardous waste early in June. Later in the month, neighbors filed a suit claiming the city knew about the materials and did nothing to notify the neighborhood. Crews in hazmat suits dug up the material without alerting residents to its dangers, the neighbors claim.
The materials were below the road surface on Lowerline Street and Coolidge Place. The city has said it doesn’t know where the radioactive material came from; the site is near where the Thompson-Haywood Chemical Co. once produced pesticides, WWL-TV reported.
The Mayor’s Office released the following statement regarding underground materials removed from Gert Town:
“This administration has been clear. Our goal is always to protect the health and safety of residents. This community has historically experienced environmental challenges, and it was imperative for us to address this immediately. Upon learning of the presence of the underground materials in 2018, this administration took immediate action by notifying residents prior to safely removing the material in close coordination with the appropriate federal and state partners. Due to the scope of the work necessary to protect health and safety, EPA assumed oversight of project operations. The City has been in constant communication with federal and state partners to push for safe and expedient removal and these agencies have been continually monitoring and have not reported any increased risk to the public during removal. We have pushed to have the containers removed as soon as possible. However, the EPA has informed us the remaining containers will be not be removed until next week. For further questions or concerns about the removal, call EPA Region 6 External Affairs at (214) 665-2200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.”
In a 2010 report, the EPA estimated that there are about 15 brownfields — former industrial sites with potential contamination — in Gert Town and 40 in Central City.