Beebe: FEMA Embarrasses Itself with Toxic Trailer Problem

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Governor Beebe today took back some of his praise for the federal response to recent tornadoes in Arkansas.  Beebe says the government embarrased itself by purchasing mobile homes now found to have high levels of formaldehyde.

Beebe says he wants quick testing of the mobile homes bought by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for 2005 hurricane relief before they're distributed to victims of Arkansas' tornadoes.  The trailers are being stored at the Hope airport.

Beebe criticized FEMA after a tornado struck Dumas about a year ago.  After the February 5 tornadoes that killed 13 people in Arkansas, Beebe praised the agency's response.  But he stepped back from that praise today.

On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that tested trailers still housing victims from hurricanes Katrina and Rita had levels of formaldehyde nearly 40 times customary exposure levels.  However, FEMA administrator R. David Paulson said trailers at Hope would be tested and only safe ones would be distributed.

Paulison said federal contractors in Hope would open the mobile homes and let them air out, a process that could take up to two weeks.  Those with dangerous levels of formaldehyde, classified as a possible carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, would not be sent to tornado victims.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)