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EPA to Re-evaluate Safety of Gordon Plaza

EPA expedites a review of the site which was previously slated for review in 2023

By Environmental Protection Agency

January 27, 2022

US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan traveled to Louisiana, meeting residents in New Orleans, St. John the Baptist Parish, St. James Parish, and Mossville, where he saw the impacts of pollution, climate change and crumbling water infrastructure.

The new Pollution Accountability Team will start as the pilot air monitoring project in Mossville, St. James Parish and St. John the Baptist Parish. EPA will work with residents and community leaders to determine the routes to be traveled by the mobile monitoring vehicle and the contaminants to be monitored. As part of the Administration’s commitment to transparency, EPA Region 6 will make this data available to the public.

EPA will also invest more than $600,000 to procure mobile air pollution monitoring equipment and will be deploying the monitors specifically in Mossville, St. John the Baptist Parish and St. James Parish, among other communities located in the south. This equipment will measure volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including air toxics, and will dramatically improve EPA’s ability to measure pollution quickly and assess situations in real-time. EPA will work with local organizations to host trainings for community members to familiarize them with the technology and the process the Agency uses for its air monitoring.

In New Orleans’ Gordon Plaza neighborhood, Administrator Regan heard from residents about the impacts of living in the affordable housing development built on the former site of the Agriculture Street Landfill. As part of addressing those concerns, EPA will now expedite a review of the site which was previously slated for review in 2023; the accelerated review will begin in March 2022 and will include 9 homes that were not included in the previous review process. The Agency is taking this step to re-evaluate its previous decision that the land is safe and to communicate the results to the community. In addition, on January 6, 2022, Administrator Regan met with Mayor Cantrell and Dr. Beverly Wright of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ) to discuss a shared commitment between EPA and the City of New Orleans to work together on community-based solutions for the residents of Gordon Plaza. The solutions discussed would support relocation of community members off the land, provide economic opportunity for the City, advance clean energy, and lower greenhouse gas emissions in the area. Most importantly, they would ensure the health and safety of Gordon Plaza residents is protected. Administrator Regan and Dr. Wright committed to continue working closely with Mayor Cantrell and her team to advance these shared goals.

“I would like to thank the Administrator for assisting the City of New Orleans with their infrastructure issues, as well as initiating first steps toward accountability, especially regarding air quality enforcement, monitoring, and data collection, which I called for back in August,” said Congressman Troy A. Carter, Sr. “The environmental justice actions announced today will allow collection of independent, reliable data that will inform the path forward to better the public health of our community.”

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