NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Imagine buying your first house, reaching a milestone accomplishment, only to later find out your home is built on a toxic landfill.
That’s exactly what happened to the residents of Gordon Plaza 40 years ago.
“I brought my children on this property, and I thought I was doing something good, but then I started feeling like I brought my children in to harms way,” said Corletta Smothers, a Gordon Plaza resident
The soil in Gordon Plaza was tested after toxic debris literally started protruding from the ground.
The tests showed the ground was contaminated with arsenic and other chemicals, many of which are deadly carcinogens.
Decades later, many Gordon Plaza residents are suffering from severe illnesses related to the hazardous land. They say the last four decades have been an uphill battle, and they want action now.
The concerns of Gordon Plaza residents made their way to the White House, and Wednesday, United States Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan toured the neighborhood, promising an end to environmental injustice.
“The President thought it was very important to put a face on this term ‘environmental injustice’. It’s really easy to let the term roll off your lips and not know who or how people are being impacted. You have my commitment that the EPA will partner with you all to solve this problem and find solutions,” said Regan.
Despite Regan’s promises, the folks of Gordon Plaza remain skeptical.
“It’s a sad story that you live in a house, you pay your note, you buy insurance. You’re trying to live out the American Dream, which turns out to be a nightmare and you can’t get justice, you know,” said Earl Smothers.
During Administrator Regan’s visit, he explained that the federal government has allotted about $5 billion to the EPA to focus on highly polluted areas across the United States.
The residents of Gordon Plaza are asking for a fully-funded relocation, and they say so far, they haven’t gotten any help from the city.