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Ebola fears: La. waste facility won't take Dallas man's incinerated belongings

NEW ORLEANS - A Louisiana waste disposal facility said Monday it would not accept the ash from the incineration of a Texas Ebola victim's belongings, at least not until state officials agree that doing so would pose no threat to the public.

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A man dressed in protective hazmat clothing leaves after treating the front porch and sidewalk of an apartment where a nurse diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on October 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. The nurse works at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, where Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan was treated.
Mike Stone, Getty Images

"We are in contact and working with all the appropriate Louisiana state officials and certainly want these officials to agree that any acceptance of this ash at our Lake Charles facility is safe prior to its acceptance," Chemical Waste Management Inc.-Lake Charles said in news release about the Calcasieu Parish facility.

The company said it is permitted by the state and federal government to accept such material and that the decontaminated and incinerated material poses no threat to the environment or human health.

But, the company said, "we do not want to make an already complicated situation, more complicated."

CWM said it had notified the company that incinerated the material, Veolia Environmental, of the decision.

Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell also planned to go to court to block the transport of the waste. Caldwell spokeswoman Laura Gerdes said the attorney general planned to seek a temporary restraining order Monday from a state court in Baton Rouge. Earlier Monday, seven southwestern Louisiana lawmakers said they supported Caldwell's plan.

The linen, bedding and carpet taken from the Dallas apartment where Thomas Eric Duncan first got sick were destroyed Friday at the Veolia Environmental Services incinerator in Port Arthur.

Veolia officials did not return calls for comment Monday. CWM said it was informed by Veolia that the materials had been decontaminated before Veolia accepted them and burned them at 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit.

U.S. medical officials have said that Ebola is only transferable from contact with body liquids from a person suffering symptoms of the disease. But the Ebola cases of a Spanish nurse and a Dallas nurse observing hospital protocols have raised new fears about contagion.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was asked about Caldwell's concerns during a news conference Monday.

"We certainly know how to inactivate and destroy the Ebola virus," including incineration, Frieden said. "It's not a particularly hardy virus environmentally."