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On FEMA Trailers Matter: Committee Leadership Calls on Gerberding to Protect De Rosa, Restore Him to His Post

Apr 2, 2008
Press Release

(Washington, DC) Yesterday, in conjunction with the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology hearing on an investigation into the toxic FEMA trailers put in place after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, senior Committee Members sent a letter to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr. Julie Gerberding, asking that she suspend all personnel actions against Dr. Chris De Rosa and return him to his post as Director of the Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicine within the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 

The letter was signed by Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), and Subcommittee Chairmen Brad Miller (D-NC) (Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight) and Nick Lampson (D-TX) (Subcommittee on Energy and Environment).

Dr. Chris De Rosa is described in the letter as being “instrumental in revealing the massive failings in ATSDR’s erroneous and completely unsubstantiated conclusion last February that the formaldehyde levels in trailers used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to house victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita” did not pose a health risk for occupants.  De Rosa, who was removed from his post in the wake of repeated clashes with ATSDR managers over toxic trailers and other matters, also testified at an Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee hearing yesterday on this matter. 

The letter reads, in part, “This appears to be a classic ‘shoot-the-messenger’ response from an agency which our investigation has shown to have engaged in a scientific and management fiasco at the highest levels.  Even when top management became aware of the problems with the original health consultation [on formaldehyde in trailers], it compounded this public health disaster by further inaction, foot-dragging and passing the buck in every direction except where it belongs—in the offices of the top leadership of ATSDR and CDC.” 

“By this letter, we are asking that you immediately suspend the implementation of Dr. De Rosa’s Personal Improvement Plan and return Dr. De Rosa to his previous position, which he held successfully for many years.  We also ask that you arrange a personal meeting to explain the conduct of your agency regarding Dr. De Rosa and how you intend to improve that record.”

This is the second letter sent by the Committee which asked Gerberding to intervene to protect De Rosa.  The first letter was sent on February 6, 2008

Click here for the full text of the most recent letter.

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110.233

110th Congress