Federal Health Agency Looks Into Illnesses Near DuPont

Gerald Ladner is a former DuPont worker, who lives about four miles northeast of the Delisle plant.

"There is a lot of people around my community out there that is either dying or getting sick," Ladner said, as he took a break from a federal health agency's public availability session. "I don't know where it's from. But I'd sure like to know."

Ladner brought his family to Pass Christian City Hall to meet with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry -- better known as the ATSDR. The independent public health agency was asked by an unknown group to look into allegations that DuPont was making people sick.

James Durant is an ATSDR scientist. He said, "We're just here simply to gather community health concerns, to try to answer the petitioners concerns that they raised to us, and follow the science and protect the public health."

That's what DuPont manager Aldo Morrell says his plant does everyday. According to Morrell, "We welcome an honest, objective review of the facts, because we're confident that we haven't caused any of the illnesses that we're being accused of."

On Monday, Morrell gave the federal health group a tour of the Delisle plant. He showed them the black powder ore used at the plant. And the sandstone rock that stores the plant's toxic waste. He held a piece of the sandstone and said, "This is actually what is two miles under ground. This is where the waste is being deposited."

ATSDR scientists will analyze DuPont's groundwater and air monitoring data. It will also analyze the health complaints from DuPont neighbors.

The scientists didn't say when a report about the DuPont investigation would be released.

Two attorneys who plan on filing a lawsuit against DuPont were at Pass Christian City Hall. They advised their clients not to talk with the federal health agency. "Getting information from our clients that may be discoverable in the lawsuit isn't going to help the case at all," said attorney Kathleen Smiley.