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Agriculture Street Landfill
Superfund site
EPA Excavation of Agriculture Street Landfill site courtyard.jpeg
City New Orleans
State Louisiana
Agriculture Street Landfill is located in Louisiana
Agriculture Street Landfill
Contaminants Lead, arsenic, and PAHs
Proposed 08/23/1994
Listed 12/16/1994
Partially deleted 06/15/2000
Superfund sites

The Agriculture Street Landfill was a dump in New Orleans, Louisiana. The area was later developed for residential use, with unfortunate environmental consequences. It became a Superfund cleanup site.


A city dump[edit]

This area in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans was swampy low ground when it began to be used as a dump in 1909. The landfill became one of the area's main dumps for both residential and industrial waste. It often caught fire, with flames and smoke visible for a good distance away, and got the local nickname Dante's Inferno. The dump was first closed in 1952, but continued as a sanitary landfill site to the end of the decade. It reopened in the aftermath of Hurricane Betsy, and much debris from that storm was deposited on site. It was officially reclosed in 1966, although reports indicate that dumping continued for another year. The landfill site was then covered with ash from city incinerators and compacted by bulldozers.


Starting in 1978, the old dump site was covered with sand and soil then redeveloped as a residential neighborhood, with 67 single-family homes, 225 townhouses (majority public housing), a 128-unit apartment complex, Moton Elementary School, and a small shopping plaza. Three residential developments - Press Park (the townhouses), Gordon Plaza (the single-family homes), and Liberty Terrace (the apartment building) - were built over the old landfill area.

EPA excavation during cleanup of the landfill site.

The redevelopment project was championed by then mayor Dutch Morial as an opportunity for low-income African-Americans to qualify for home ownership. Along with the City of New Orleans led by Morial, additional sponsors of the redevelopment project included former U.S. Representative William J. Jefferson, New Orleans City Councilman Johnny Jackson, the Housing Authority of New Orleans, the New Orleans school board, and HUD.


Complaints of trash working its way up to the surface and health problems by area residents first prompted Environmental Protection Agency investigations in 1986. The area was initially judged not worthy of federal remedy and no further remedial action was planned by the EPA. In 1991, the US Centers for Disease Control revised the national levels for lead in blood from 25 ugm/DL to 10 ugm/DL, prompting new concern for environmental lead exposure. Residents continued finding old trash just below the surface when trying to plant gardens or erect fences, and anecdotal evidence of health problems including abnormally high rates of cancer became common (though the ATSDR found, in September 1997, that statistically higher breast cancer rates in the area were not related to the site). People in the area petitioned for retesting in 1993, and the site was placed on the National Priorities List as a cleanup site the following year. Investigations showed that the actual amount of soil placed over the landfill before redevelopment was much thinner than had been claimed.

Remedial work[edit]

An EPA map detailing lead contamination at the landfill site.

EPA supervised cleanup included closing Morton Elementary, and on residential land removing two feet of soil, putting down a geotextile barrier, then topping it with two feet of new clean soil. In April 2001 it was announced to be 99% complete. Many area homeowners and residents have petitioned for being moved elsewhere, with the backing of Congressman Bill Jefferson, but they have not succeeded in getting funds provided.

After Hurricane Katrina[edit]

Flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina disrupted this area (see: Effect of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans), with storm surge funneled by the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet Canal flooding into this neighborhood in 2005. There are concerns that the flooding has released additional toxins in the area. "Press Park", a 56 townhouse housing complex in the area, has been found contaminated with benzopyrene at levels some 50 times EPA health screening level, and remains fenced off as of April 2010.[1]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 29°59′20″N 90°2′31″W / 29.98889°N 90.04194°W / 29.98889; -90.04194

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agriculture_Street_Landfill — Please support Wikipedia.
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69 news items


Thu, 23 Apr 2015 06:52:30 -0700

It's been more than two decades since the Environmental Protection Agency declared the Agriculture Street Landfill a Superfund site, indicating a level of pollution requiring a long-term cleanup plan. Residents had hoped that the designation would ...


Tue, 26 May 2015 16:37:30 -0700

Arturo Blanco, Director of Office of Environmental Justice and Tribal Affairs for EPA Region 6, center, listens as Gordon Plaza resident Shannon Rainey, left, talks about her concerns as Blanco toured the Agriculture Street landfill site in New Orleans ...


Wed, 22 Apr 2015 08:22:30 -0700

But the residents weren't told their new homes were built on top of the shuttered Agriculture Street Landfill. After the federal government declared the area a toxic Superfund site in 1994, residents filed a class action lawsuit against the city, HANO ...


Mon, 11 May 2015 09:14:20 -0700

Valteau, with help from the Metairie accounting firm, reviewed thousands of claims forms from residents of the Agriculture Street Landfill, located on a 45-acre tract of land in the Upper 9th Ward. He determined who was eligible to be paid and how much ...
The Times-Picayune - NOLA.com
Wed, 28 May 2008 00:00:00 -0700

A consent decree filed in federal court calls for the city to maintain a synthetic liner and a soil cap over the Agriculture Street Landfill in eastern New Orleans. But the city didn't admit any liability in the case and isn't required to pay for any ...

De Smog Blog (blog)

De Smog Blog (blog)
Sun, 22 Jun 2014 11:13:32 -0700

Rainey's home in Gordon Plaza is part of a subdivision developed by the city in 1981 on top of the Agriculture Street landfill. No one disclosed to the buyers that their new homes were built on top of a dump that was closed in 1965. Rainey has a view ...

People Magazine

People Magazine
Wed, 26 Aug 2015 10:30:21 -0700

The 48-year-old grew up in Gordon Plaza, part of a subdivision developed by the city in 1981 on top of the Agriculture Street landfill. As a young girl, she had no idea that her house was built on top of a landfill that had closed in 1965. The soil ...

DeSmog (blog)

DeSmog (blog)
Wed, 30 Mar 2016 11:22:07 -0700

Aria Doe, executive director of the Action Center for Education and Community Development in New York's Rockaways, met Oscar-nominated documentarian Josh Fox, director of Gasland, a few weeks after Superstorm Sandy hit, when he came to film ...

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