Louisiana to Block Ashes of Ebola Victim’s Belongings From Entering State

Thomas Duncan's belongings
A worker in a hazardous material suit removes the contents of the Dallas apartment where a man diagnosed with the Ebola virus was staying, on October 6, 2014. Jim Young/Reuters

Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell announced late Sunday that he would seek a temporary restraining order to prevent the ashes of Dallas Ebola victim Thomas Duncan’s belongings from entering his state.

Six truckloads of items from Duncan’s apartment, including linens, carpets and bedding, were incinerated at a Texas facility on Friday. The plan was then to ship the ashes to a hazardous-waste landfill in Louisiana for burial.

Caldwell’s office is expected to file the restraining order sometime this morning, as well as send a “demand letter” requesting additional information from private contractors and state and federal officials about the handling of Ebola-contaminated ashes.

“The health and safety of our Louisiana citizens is our top priority,” Caldwell said in a statement. “There are too many unknowns at this point, and it is absurd to transport potentially hazardous Ebola waste across state lines.” 

Though the situation is unprecedented, there is no evidence that blocking the ashes from entering a state will have any impact on the possible spread of the disease there. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that incineration is the proper way to handle this kind of waste and that Ebola-related waste should no longer be infectious if incinerated correctly.