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Westbank Asbestos Removal Coming to an End

Release Date: 6/25/1998
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

     Within the next few weeks, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to complete the asbestos-containing materials (ACM) removal it has been conducting in the Westbank area near New Orleans since October 1996.

     During these final weeks, residents who think their property may contain this material should call the project command post at (504)363-4917. After that time, concerned residents may contact EPA at the Dallas regional headquarters at (214)665-2270.

     "Asbestos contamination threatened the health of residents in neighborhoods throughout the  Westbank area. To remove this threat, EPA has investigated more than 2,000 locations suspected of containing asbestos. The project will cost about $17.5 million," EPA Regional Administrator Gregg Cooke said.

     EPA’s community outreach and education about the contamination generated outstanding public response. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality assisted with informing the public and gaining access to several properties.

     As of last week, ACM had been found at 1,378 sites in Bridge City, Westwego, Marrero, Harvey, Gretna and Algiers. Cleanup and restoration has been completed at 1,267 sites. The remaining sites have no visible ACM or are still being investigated.

     During the 1950s and ‘60s, a former Johns-Manville plant in Marrero, La., disposed of some production waste by providing ACM to area residents, who used the material to construct driveways and sidewalks at their homes, as well as for fill material.

     Over the years, ordinary activities such as walking, driving, lawn maintenance and natural weathering caused the material to deteriorate. Deterioration can cause ACM to turn into powder, allowing asbestos fibers to become airborne. Inhaling asbestos can cause permanent lung damage.