Deadly gas cylinders hauled away

June 30, 2007
By Theresa Schmidt

It was in a remote area off Highway 14 near Bell City that someone dumped an estimated 26 cylinders that once contained methyl bromide-- a very effective pesticide for getting rid of rodents and one Peter Ricca with the State Department of Environmental Quality says can kill someone who breathes it.  "There have been some deaths attributed to methyl bromide poisoning, most recently a few years ago in Baton Rouge, a cylinder similar to this was hooked up by a family. They thought it could be used as a gas source for their stove. A mother died and a young child was seriously impaired."

The cylinders were picked up around noon and are being taken to a facility in North Carolina where it will be determined if they can be put back into use or whether they are too deteriorated. Officials say there is no danger to nearby residents. DEQ's criminal investigation unit has evaluated and tested the cylinders and are gathering the information they need to trace them back to the illegal dumper and to eventually help the district attorney prosecute.

Explains Ricca, "There are certain markings on these containers and we're working with the manufacturers. Who've been a tremendous help to us, to try to locate where these materials originated, where they might have ended up here in Louisiana so we can put our hands on the person who might have dumped it. What happens is often you have a pesticide applicator because that's a person who would have the license to do this and they would have a license to either treat bulk storage or ships or to do some type of agricultural application."

Whoever dumped the cylinders could be charged with illegal disposal of hazardous waste and be fined up to $250, 000 or fifteen years in prison or both. If you have any information about who may have been involved in the illegal dumping of methyl bromide canisters call DEQ in Lake Charles at 491-2667 or toll free at 888-763-5424.