Gert Town radioactive bins may be moved while lawsuit heads to federal court

Gert Town radioactive bins may be moved while lawsuit heads to federal court

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - A group of concerned Gert Town residents are preparing to see the city of New Orleans in federal court, as more than 200 neighbors are suing the city for failing to notify them and adress radioactive waste near their homes.

For weeks, bins have sat outside homes on Lowerline and Coolidge Court, supposedly sealed, but containing radioactive material that crews dug up from the ground. And residents living there say they want answers.

“The community’s still concerned, why is it taking so long not getting any answers from EPA or no one,” Eric Lassair, a Gert Town resident, said.

But now, the bins may be moving out of state to Texas. Attorney Madro Bandaries said that’s what both the city of New Orleans and the company that did the work, ARS Aleut Remediation, promised.

“They’re going to remove, I’ve been assured, the five containers starting tomorrow,” Bandaries said.

Both the city and the remediation company are named in the class-action lawsuit, putting the bins’ radioactive material, radium 226, at the center of the argument. Lassair and hundreds of other plaintiffs maintain that the city knew of the radioactive material back in 2013, but didn’t tell people living there.

It wasn’t until early June where some residents received a “road work notice" that clued them into the potential dangers outside their homes.

“They’re worried and in fear of what’s happening with them,” Lassair said.

Bandaries said while moving the bins is a win for the residents, it’s still unknown exactly what’s in them. They hoped to learn more in an upcoming court date that demanded documents of the radioactive material, but that date has now been pushed back. A judge signed an order moving the whole case to federal court.

“All those 100s of people who have signed up to the class action do not show up to court tomorrow,” Bandaires said.

Bandaries said the order doesn’t surprise him. The lawsuit may involve not only the city of New Orleans, but also multiple other state and federal agencies.

“If you knew in 2013 that you or anybody was susceptible to a potential medial problem, and then wait until 2019 to tell you about it, come on, that’s not leadership, it’s not transparency, that would make you think you have people down there dumb as dirt,” Bandaries said.

For Lassair who goes home to these bins and the potential other radioactive material lingering around, he said it’s hard to be patient.

“Bottom line is, I smell a rat somewhere, or a few rats, and having experienced this situation, I think the whole situation was handled improperly,” Lassair said.

As of Wednesday (June 26), no new federal court date had been set.

Bandaries said it’s estimated the bins will be out of the neighborhood by July 2.

FOX 8 reached out to the city for a response, but was told told they cannot comment on this case because of pending litigation.

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