/  04.07.2022

Dozens of Black New Orleans residents were pushed to purchase homes in a promising neighborhood — unbeknownst to them, the land sat atop a highly contaminated landfill. Although this atrocity happened decades ago, officials have yet to assist with compensation or relocation — bringing more attention to the situation.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Black New Orleans residents were told that a new 67-home neighborhood would be a great place for low-income families to have a shot at the “American dream” with homeownership.

As families flocked to move in, horrible details were excluded from the deal.

According to a study by the Environmental Protection Agency in the 1990s, the land contained 149 toxic contaminants — with 49 of them linked to cancer.

The land that the homes had been built on, once served as 95 acres of wasteland. The Agriculture Street Landfill as it was called, harbored a toxic dump for almost 50 years before it was sold as the foundation for homes for Black residents. The area is now known as Gordon Plaza.

Reports state that at the time of construction, high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, arsenic, lead, and dioxins were present in the soil. This is the same land where families planted fruit trees and allowed their kids to play. The chemicals were linked to serious health-related issues such as cancer, reduced lung function and heart issues.

It took almost 30 years before residents were notified of the situation.

According to an April 1 Washington Post story, residents “were originally awarded a $90 million state court judgment against the city,” but “officials have refused to pay.”

There is now a class-action suit led by attorney Suzette Bagneris, as many residents have not only suffered from health complications but are unable to sell the toxic properties and relocate.

The Washington Post goes on to state that while the City Council recently voted to give $35 million to correct this injustice, no money is guaranteed.

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