More than 240 neighbors join lawsuit against the City of New Orleans over radioactive material

More than 240 neighbors join lawsuit against the City of New Orleans over radioactive material

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - More than 240 local residents join a lawsuit against the City claiming it knew about radioactive material in a Gert Town community since 2013 but took no action to warn or protect them.

The attorney representing the hundreds of neighbors say his clients have a right to know what they may have been exposed to in their community.

“Here’s what they want to know, what’s going on and they don’t know. As I appreciate it from the City, the City doesn’t want to comment because there’s a lawsuit. There’s a bigger issue here, the issue here is public safety,” said plaintiff’s attorney, Madro Banderies.

The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit saying the City was notified six years ago about the presence of radioactive material in the soil near Lowerline Street while scanning for security threats in preparation of hosting the 2013 Super Bowl. But, according to the lawsuit, the city took no action to warn or protect them from the risk of exposure to radium-226 and radiation. Crews began excavating the material last month. People living and working in the area have serious health concerns.

“I was diagnosed with Leukemia back in 1977 and prior to that I must’ve been 12 or 13; I was diagnosed as being Anemic and we couldn’t figure out, none of the doctors for years could figure out what caused it,” said business owner Eric Lassair.

The City has said it doesn’t know where the radiation producing material is coming from under the road’s surface near the intersection of Lowerline Street and Coolidge Court. But says it was properly contained and removed out of an abundance of caution. However, the plaintiff’s attorney says they believe the material is still sitting in the neighborhood.

“There are five bins out there that are fenced in, that have warning signs on them, they had a guard until three nights ago, that are still out there and we have every reason to believe that the material is still there and we want them to remove it,” said Banderies.

A judge recently ruled that the City as well as the remediation company must appear before the court next week to respond to the plaintiff’s motion demanding documents regarding the radioactive material.

“Now, we’ve received information that they haven’t gotten all the radiation that they claim they’re seeking and they’re going to have to go back out there so, the people who live in Gert Town want to know, they’re entitled to know,” said Banderies. “All we know from the City is there, there’s radiation in your area and we’re going to come get it okay, and trust us okay, and that’s not enough these people’s lives, their health and their future are at stake.”

We reached out to the City again Friday but they have not yet returned our request for comment. Earlier this week, a city spokesman said they will have no further comment at this time as the matter is now under litigation.

Copyright 2019 WVUE. All rights reserved.