Congress member requests investigation into FEMA trailer use

July 15, 2010

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) on July 1 requested (.pdf file) an investigation into FEMA trailers with high levels of formaldehyde that may be housing oil spill cleanup workers on the Gulf Coast.

A June 30 New York Times report said the trailers were being resold to oil spill cleanup workers temporarily living in Louisiana who may not know the trailers' history.

FEMA originally provided the trailers as temporary housing following the 2005 hurricane season, which included Hurricane Katrina. After numerous reports and complaints of strong formaldehyde odors, in 2008 FEMA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the presence of unsafe levels of the colorless gas pollutant in the trailers.

The trailers were phased out and later sold by the General Services Administration, with buyers certifying they understood the trailers had high formaldehyde emissions and were not intended to be used as housing. Buyers must inform subsequent owners of this information.