FEMA trailer safety debated by Congress as public sale continues – “…consensus on the committee seemed to be leaning heavily toward “environmental time bombs,”…

“Unbelievably, these are the same trailers that made thousands of people ill, some severely ill, from exposure to formaldehyde gases and vapors; young children, elderly people and those with serious respiratory conditions, from asthma to bronchitis, inhaled these vapors over long, extended periods of time,” said Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., who chairs the subcommittee. “Am I the only one left scratching his head at this outcome?”

“At the beginning of the hearing, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said the formaldehyde fiasco highlighted the inadequacy of the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to “assess and restrict dangerous chemicals,” power that might have averted “this problem in the first place.”

By Jonathan Tilove
April 28, 2010

The title of Wednesday’s hearing before the House Energy Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection was, “The Public Sales of Hurricane Katrina/Rita FEMA Trailers: Are they Safe or Environmental Time Bombs?”

The bipartisan consensus on the committee seemed to be leaning heavily toward “environmental time bombs,” but now that the General Services Administration has completed the sale of more than 100,000 of the trailers, it is not clear what Congress can do about it.

“We’ve seen that there is an unsafe level of formaldehyde in some of these trailers and I don’t think it’s the wisest thing for the federal government to be selling those and having people live in them and experience more health problems,” said Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, a member of the subcommittee. “We’ve got to figure out a better way to handle this … to see if we can unravel this.”

“Unbelievably, these are the same trailers that made thousands of people ill, some severely ill, from exposure to formaldehyde gases and vapors; young children, elderly people and those with serious respiratory conditions, from asthma to bronchitis, inhaled these vapors over long, extended periods of time,” said Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., who chairs the subcommittee. “Am I the only one left scratching his head at this outcome?”

But David Garratt, FEMA’s associate administrator for mission support, defended the sales. He said that the mobile homes, park models and travel trailers returned to FEMA after their use along the Gulf Coast and auctioned off this year at bargain prices, met existing industry standards. And, he said, buyers of the travel trailers — which are the ones that posed the most danger and were never intended to provide long-term housing — had to certify that they understood the formaldehyde risk and that the travel trailers “are not intended to be used as housing.”

“Subsequent owners must continue to similarly inform subsequent buyers for the life of the unit,” said Garratt, though some members of the committee seemed dubious that would always happen.

Garratt estimated the cost to the government of storing and maintaining the previously used units had run close to $130 million a year.

While filmmaker Gabe Chasnoff, who produced and directed “Renaissance Village,” a documentary about the formaldehyde trailers, played a clip Wednesday that included then Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff’s declaration at a congressional hearing in 2008 that, “we are out of the trailer business,” Garratt said that is not the case.

Travel trailers are the only models small enough to be placed on people’s properties while they rebuild and, in future disasters, Garratt said, FEMA will rely on a new inventory of trailers built for FEMA to new higher air-quality standards. And, they will only be placed on properties where the repairs can be completed in a about six months.

At the beginning of the hearing, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said the formaldehyde fiasco highlighted the inadequacy of the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to “assess and restrict dangerous chemicals,” power that might have averted “this problem in the first place.”

EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator James Jones testified that EPA’s draft assessment on the dangers of formaldehyde should be released in the next month or so.

But in his testimony, Dr. Corey Hebert, an associate professor of pediatrics at Tulane University Medical Center and the chief medical officer of the Recovery School District, said that in its broadest strokes, the verdict on formaldehyde is already in.

“We know it’s a carcinogen,” said Hebert, who said that the market fails to heed that fact because “this is America, this is capitalism, this is what we do.” Hebert said no trailers should have been resold until any formaldehyde peril was remediated.

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Dr. Corey Hebert Testifies Before Congress On Safety Of FEMA Trailers – Dr. Hebert has worked tirelessly to inform the public of the dangers of formaldehyde exposure in high concentrations in FEMA issued trailers

FEMA Using US Chamber Fraud in Katrina Trailer Litigation; EPA, GAO & Both Isle$ of Congre$$ Turn Blind Eye$

Toxic Trailors.com – Toxic Court (Louisiana) stacks deck against formaldehyde victims

New Orleans family loses FEMA trailer suit & Why CDC Responded With ‘Lack of Urgency’ to Formaldehyde Warnings – top government officials worried about lawsuits from the beginning

Idiots in Louisiana Auctioning (Livingston-based Henderson Auctions) 400 FEMA Trailers bought from the U.S. General Services Administration & The Advocate – WBRZ News 2 is there & mentions absolutely nothing of the controversy (katrina) & health risks!!!

Video – Katrina cottages from Mississippi – flooded during Gustav & Ike – to be auctioned in Louisiana – warnings of mold

The high cost of FEMA’s learning curve

How Senator Vitter Battled the EPA Over Formaldehyde’s Link to Cancer

Children from FEMA Trailers Battle Serious Health Problems

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) confirms link between formaldehyde and leukemia

Formaldehyde Exposure and Asthma in Children: A Systematic Review

TRUTH OUT Sharon Kramer Letter To Andrew Saxon MOLD ISSUE

Regents of the University of California acknowledge imprimatur on 2003 US Chamber of Commerce medico-legal publication

New Action Committee – ACHEMMIC- Urges Transparency in EPA Policy Over Mold & Microbial Contaminants

Truth About Mold – the most up to date, accurate, and reliable information on Toxic Mold

Sociological Issues Relating to Mold: The Mold Wars

Certain Corporate and Government Interests Have Spent Huge Sums of Money and Resources DENYING THE TRUTH about the HEALTH EFFECTS of TOXIC MOLD

Political Action Committee – National Apartment Association (NAA) files Amicus Brief in mold case (two infant deaths in mold filled apt – Wasatch Prop Mgmt) citing US Chamber/ACOEM ‘litigation defense report’ to disclaim health effects of indoor mold & limit financial risk for industry

“Changes in construction methods have caused US buildings to become perfect petri dishes for mold and bacteria to flourish when water is added. Instead of warning the public and teaching physicians that the buildings were causing illness; in 2003 the US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, a think-tank, and a workers comp physician trade organization mass marketed an unscientific nonsequitor to the courts to disclaim the adverse health effects to stave off liability for financial stakeholders of moldy buildings. Although publicly exposed many times over the years, the deceit lingers in US courts to this very day.” Sharon Noonan Kramer

Information on Riverstone Residential, the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency, and the owners of Toxic Mold Infested Jefferson Lakes Apartments in Baton Rouge, Louisiana continuing to allow tenants to be exposed to extreme amounts of mold toxins

Irrefutable evidence indicates that Riverstone Residential, Guarantee Service Team of Professionals, & plaintiffs’ attorney, J Arthur Smith III, must have agreed to exclude evidence that would have shown the owners of Jefferson Lakes Apartments & Riverstone Residential had knowledge of the severe MOLD INFESTATION at the complex before we moved in

Toxic Mold Infested Jefferson Lakes Apartments managed by Riverstone Residential

Riverstone Residential Litigation

Mold Inspection Reports

Photos of Mold in Apartment

Attorney Malpractice

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