FEMA Units Housing Gulf Oil Spill Workers

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July 6, 2010 by   2 Comments

The white trailers used to house hundreds of thousands of people following hurricane Katrina are reportedly making a second appearance.

The government banned the sale of the trailers for health reasons, and some fear contractors along the Gulf Coast may be overlooking a potentially dangerous situation, according to WAFB-TV, Baton Rouge, La.

U.S. Reps. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Charlie Melancon, D-La., are trying to put the brakes on contractors who have apparently started selling the campers to oil spill relief workers to use as living quarters.

“It’s stunning on one hand, but not surprising this has been characteristic of everything that has occurred since day one,” said Markey. Melancon says that workers are spending all day in toxic fumes and oil could be returning to trailers that cause a number of health problems.

The trailers have serial numbers and are supposed to bear stickers indicating they were Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) formaldehyde trailers, and buyers are supposed to sign a waiver stating they are aware of the health risks involved.

Melancon and Markey aren’t convinced that has happened. They are worried those identifiers may have been removed from the trailers before they were sold. “It’s not like a mattress where they’ve taken off the warning label,” said Markey. “This is more like a pack of cigarettes that is harmful to people’s health that is now being used to house people’s health.”

When asked about the potential dangers to oil spill cleanup workers living in the trailers, Assistant State Health Officer Dr. Erin Brewer said it is too early to tell. “This is the beginning of the story and it’s not clear to me how long the oil response workers will be in the trailers and what the other risk factors are for health problems,” said Brewer.

The U.S. General Services Administration released a statement Friday evening stating the agency’s Office of Real Property will send an email to travel trailer buyers. It reminds them that they must notify anyone who buys the trailer in the future that it was once a FEMA trailer and that it is against the law to use it as housing.

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2 Responses to “FEMA Units Housing Gulf Oil Spill Workers”

  1. matt on July 6th, 2010 3:46 pm

    i’m confused about the facts of this article. trailers sold through the GSA that were used by FEMA bear a sticker that says “not to be used for housing” they do not say ” FEMA formaldehyde trailers”… the mandatory disclosures say that the trailer is not to be used as housing, and that formaldehyde is used in the construction of the trailer and describe the potential effects of formaldehyde exposure…. Isn’t formaldehyde used in the construction of every trailer built? Didn’t the government do tests on a large percentage of trailers prior to the sale of them through the GSA and found that their were NOT unsafe levels of formaldehyde? Hasn’t there been several law suits brought against the manufacturers of these trailers that were dismissed due to the lack of evidence to support the case of unsafe trailers? Sounds like lobbyists for the manufacturers trying to stop business from occuring so buyers would be forced to use the manufacturers for their supply. Does anybody know how much the manufacturers have made from FEMA? DOes anybody know why the manufacturers did not have a repurchase agreement in place to protect their dealer body once FEMA was done with them? all these articles about these trailers are extremely one sided, and somebody needs to report about the real issues.

  2. Ann Ross on July 8th, 2010 1:54 pm

    The writer says, “. . . buyers are supposed to sign a waiver stating they are aware of the health risks involved.” Yes, they are. Every buyer of every RV from every dealer is supposed to do the same. We’re accustomed to the government dishing out one-sided stories, but come-on y’all in the industry. We all know that these trailers were built by the same manufacturers, using the same materials, under the same acceptable guidelines as ALL recreational vehicles are still built today, and the handbook for EVERY RV includes the formaldahyde warning. If they don’t want them in the market, at least tell the truth and stop the s&*^.