Feds Hid Toxic Trailer Danger

Refused to conduct tests even after a death
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 20, 2007 10:32 AM CDT
FEMA Director R. David Paulison speaks during the Florida Governor's Hurricane Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Wednesday, May 16, 2007. FEMA's neglect regarding the release of cancer-causing formaldehyde...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Some 120,000 Hurricane Katrina victims lived in emergency trailers for months, even though FEMA knew they were toxic, with formaldehyde levels 75 times the safety threshold, the Washington Post reports. Officials suppressed the the information and failed to order tests, emails show, because they didn't want to do anything that would make FEMA liable.

Even after hundreds occupants complained of illness and one resident died, FEMA didn't warn tenants, lawmakers investigating the matter charged yesterday.  "Senior officials in Washington didn't want the legal and moral responsibility to do what they knew had to be done," said California Rep. Henry Waxman, the Democratic chairman of the committee investigating the inaction..