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Chinese Drywall Used in NOLA Homes Rebuilt By Charities After Katrina

Dec 29, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

Many of the homes rebuilt by nonprofits in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina contain Chinese drywall.  According to a report on HeraldTribune.com, Habitat for Humanity used and distributed Chinese drywall made by Taishan Gypsum Co., that went into 600 Katrina homes.  What's more, Habitat only stopped using drywall from the Taishan stockpile in November.

Homes built with Habitat's Chinese drywall  include about half of the 72 single-family homes and five duplexes in the “Musician’s Village,” one of the organizations most successful post-Katrina rebuilding projects.

According to a report on HeraldTribune.com, starting in early 2007, the Taishan drywall stockpile –  totalling around 120,000 sheets – became Habitat’s main source of wallboard for Katrina rebuiling.   It only stopped after it received a form letter from the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) in November stating that Chinese drywall not be moved or sold without prior notification to the federal government.

Officials with Habitat in New Orleans insist that the Taishan drywall it used has not caused any problems, and told HeraldTribune.com that tests it conducted in March proved the wallboard did not contain any of the sulfur compounds linked to corrosion and other problems. But according to the HeraldTribune.com report, Habitat only tested a few indoor air samples, not the actual drywall, to reach that conclusion. The CPSC and other government agencies investigating the drywall problems have already said that such tests likely won’t detect tainted wallboard.

An official with the organization also told HeraldTribune.com that if the Taishan drywall was causing problems in homes, “we think we would have heard something from our families by now.” Unfortunately, it is well known that corrosion, odors and other problems with Chinese drywall often don’t show up until 12 to 24, so its really too early to say that all homes built with Habitat’s Taishan drywall are safe.

Taishan has been accused of being a major culprit in the Chinese drywall disaster. In fact, lawsuits against Taishan will be among the first to go to trial next month in the Chinese drywall multidistrict litigation currently underway in federal court in New Orleans. Earlier this year, the judge overseeing that litigation issued a default judgment against Taishan for failing to respond to lawsuits.


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