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Louisiana AG Asks Court to Block Transfer of Ebola Ash

NEW ORLEANS (CN) - La. Attorney General Buddy Caldwell asked a state judge to prevent the tansfer of incinerated waste from an Ebola victim's apartment to a Louisiana landfill.

A reported six truckloads of material collected from the apartment where Dallas Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan became ill were brought to Port Arthur, Texas Friday and incinerated by Veolia Environmental Services.

Following incineration, the material was set to be transported to a Lake Charles, Louisiana hazardous waste landfill for final disposal. Caldwell announced late Sunday he would move to block the material from crossing the state line.

Duncan died Wednesday. Sunday, Texas health officials announced that a health care worker who cared for Duncan had tested positive for Ebola.

On Monday, the Lake Charles landfill where the incinerated waste was slated to arrive, Chemical Waste Management, announced it would not accept the potentially Ebola-contaminated material.

"This announcement is not a legally binding statement by the company; therefore, out of an abundance of caution, the State seeks a temporary restraining order against Chemical Waste Management," the State's petition for restraining order says.

The Center for Disease Control recently issued guidelines for the handling of material that is potentially contaminated with Ebola, but there are still no guidelines for handling of incinerated ash or the handling of that ash, the lawsuit says.

The Environmental Protection Agency advises that the handling of medical waste should follow state guidelines.

Louisiana first learned that Texas planned to send its Ebola waste across the border for disposal through media reports on Sunday. "Prior to these reports, the Louisiana regulatory departments were not contacted regarding the disposal of treated Ebola contaminated waste originating in the State of Texas and incinerated in the state of Texas," the lawsuit says. No test results or reports were provided to Louisiana officials for evaluation and verification of the incineration process, and no permits for transport of this potentially infectious material, the lawsuit said.

Caldwell says he asked the Center for Disease Control for any test results following the incineration, based on news reports the ash was to be analyzed for two days for any remaining contamination before transport.

A spokesperson for the Center for Disease Prevention replied that "there is no indication that CDC did any post-testing of incinerated Ebola waste," and said also that testing is handled at a state and local level but that "Ebola-associated waste that has been appropriately inactivated or incinerated is no longer infectious."

"Simply put, there are many unknowns surrounding the Ebola virus, and all parties involved must proceed cautiously. The health and safety of Louisiana citizens must be a top priority, and the State has received no information regarding the transport of potentially hazardous Ebola waste across state lines," Caldwell's petition says.

Veolia Environmental Services was unavailable for questions Tuesday morning.

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