Toxic Chemicals Deposited at Agriculture Street Landfill

Stop 2 of 7 on the Gordon Plaza tour.

In 1948, facing increased public health concerns, the Louisiana State Legislature passed a law prohibiting open-air landfills in highly populated areas. [1] However, New Orleans city officials sidestepped this law to continue operating Agriculture Street Landfill (ASL) by transforming the dump into a so-called "sanitary landfill." At ASL, the implementation of sanitary landfill procedures included spraying the dump with Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT). [2] DDT, a powerful insecticide, is now infamous for its detrimental environmental impact and carcinogenic capacity.

Before 1956, ASL operators regularly sprayed the chemical Malathion to kill flies. After a particularly intense fly infestation in 1956, the city oversaw “experimental spraying” with Diazinon. [3] In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated Malathion a probable carcinogen. [4] Diazinon is toxic to humans, negatively impacting cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous systems. In 2004, the EPA outlawed the residential use of Diazinon.

In the 2018 interview featured below, longtime Gordon Plaza resident Shannon Rainey describes discovering toxic chemicals in her backyard.

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Shannon Rainey, longtime Gordon Plaza resident, shares her discovery of toxic trash buried in her backyard.
Source: Video courtesy of the Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies at the University of New Orleans. ~ Creator: Oral history interview with Shannon Rainey conducted by Lones Gagnard, Vickie Lacoste, Ella McIntire, and Daniel Lamplugh. ~ Date:...
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Gordon Plaza, New Orlean, LA