Toxin levels force realty business out of building

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Laura Stanley, owner of La. StateRealty LLC, has leased the Imperial Cleaners’ building at 211 Pennsylvania Ave. for many years. And for much of that time, she’s known about the contaminants in the soil and air.

“That’s why I’ve never bought the building,” Stanley said. “They (Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality) were supposed to clean all that up over the last 12 years, but they never did.”

Stanley refers to the toxin levels that are alleged to be in the soil under the building.

“All we were ever told is ‘don’t drink the ground water,’” she said. “It really makes no sense at all. Most places get better after 12 years, I don’t know if it’s gotten worse, or if the levels that were acceptable 12 years ago were less.”

Stanley said she couldn’t purchase the building until the toxins were remediated.

“The state had money 12 years ago and were supposed to clean it up,” she said. “Now they don’t have money. So every so often, they came and tested it. After this last time, they called us and told us we didn’t need to be in there … that the levels were too high.”

Stanley said she moved out in the fall of 2021, after meeting with LDEQ several times, “hoping they would get it straight, but they never did.”

Stanley said she contracts with her realty agents, therefore, she and her receptionists spent the most time in the building.

“We haven’t had any issues,” she said. “We’re fine. No one’s been sick or felt bad.”

“It makes no sense at all … why is it a big deal now, but it wasn’t 12 years ago?” she continued. “But you don’t have to tell me twice (to move out). I certainly don’t want me or my family in something that isn’t safe.” 

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