Wednesday, July 09, 2008



It's long been suspected that Gulf Stream knew very well they were selling the government trailers for Katrina victims that would seriously harm their health. This is the classic case of criminal profiteering and Henry Waxman's House Oversight Committee is finally exposing it to the public. Right now we're in the midst of another widespread salmonella outbreak-- tomatoes, cilantro and jalapeƱo peppers-- which is exactly what happens when anti-government Republicans sets out to systematically destroy the country's regulatory system. Their backward, reactionary ideology is all about the law of the jungle. The law of the jungle is getting an awful lot of people ill-- and not just from eating Mexican food.

As though the people made homeless from Katrina hadn't suffered enough, they were provided with housing that was making them ill. USAToday has a frightening story about Gulf Stream's criminal complicity regarding dangerously high levels of formaldehyde. The company covered this up and "did not tell anyone because it regarded the situation as a public relations and legal matter, not a public health issue."
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who convened hearings on the trailer issue, said internal documents from Gulf Stream, which provided the trailers to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, showed the company had found "pervasive formaldehyde in its trailers, and didn't tell anyone."

Gulf Stream received over $500 million from FEMA for 50,000 trailers for Gulf Coast residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Katrina victims now occupy 15,000 travel trailers in the region, a sharp drop from the more than 143,000 trailers that once housed displaced residents.

Prolonged exposure to formaldehyde can lead to breathing problems and is also believed to cause cancer. Complaints by trailer residents began popping up shortly after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, with residents of FEMA-issued trailers reporting frequent headaches, nosebleeds and other ailments.

Waxman said the documents showed that Gulf Stream's tests of 11 trailers showed levels of formaldehyde higher than that which can cause adverse health effects.

Tests also showed that over half of unoccupied trailers, which were sitting on lots awaiting transfer to displaced families, showed concentrations of formaldehyde at or above a level that Environmental Protection Agency says people should not be exposed to for more than eight hours in their entire lifetime.

"Gulf Stream never told any families living in its trailer about these test results," Waxman charged.
He also said the government was at fault.

"No one was looking out for the interests of displaced families living in FEMA trailers," Waxman said. "FEMA failed to do its job and trailer manufacturers took advantage of the situation."

And that's exactly the way George W. Bush, John W. McCain and their Republican and Blue Dog rubber stamps planned it-- only they hoped to not get caught. Watch with your own eyes:

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At 9:32 PM, Blogger Dr. Know said...

It would be interesting to know who the supplier of the sheathing materials was, and if they exceeded any applicable legal standards for VOC emissions with their product -- and when Gulfstream knew about it.

Regardless, another black eye to American business stemming from a lack of enforcable standards and ethical accountability. Ain't pure, unbridled capitalism great?


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