Toxic Chemicals Deposited at Agriculture Street Landfill

Stop 2 of 7 on the Gordon Plaza tour.

In the face of increasing public health concerns, Louisiana passed a law in 1948 to prohibit the operation of open-air landfills in highly populated areas. [8] However, New Orleans’ city officials sidestepped this law and continued operations at Agriculture Street Landfill (ASL) by “transforming” the dump into a “sanitary” landfill by regularly applying DDT to the landfill surface. [9] DDT, a powerful insecticide, is now infamous for its detrimental environmental impact and carcinogenic capacity.

Prior to 1956, the chemical Malathion was regularly sprayed at ASL to kill flies. The Environmental Protection Agency designated Malathion a probable carcinogen in 2009. [10] After a particularly intense fly infestation in 1956, the city oversaw “experimental spraying” with Diazinon. [11] Diazinon is toxic to humans and shown to negatively impact cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous systems. Residential use of Diazinon was outlawed in the United States in 2004.

In the video below, longtime Gordon Plaza resident Shannon Rainey describes her family's discovery of toxic chemicals in their backyard.


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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