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Doctor: Uncollected debris in Port Arthur could cause respiratory problems

Jefferson County's worst display of uncollected garbage is in Port Arthur and could lead to a host of health issues from diarrhea to respiratory infections, a doctor with county's Public Health Department wrote in a letter Monday to county officials.

Jefferson County's worst display of uncollected garbage is in Port Arthur and could lead to a host of health issues from diarrhea to respiratory infections, a doctor with county's Public Health Department wrote in a letter Monday to county officials.

Dr. A Cecil Walkes notes "the collection of materials debris, household chemicals, food waste, rotting food, varied dust materials, volatile liquids, building materials, household appliances, electronic devices" among the garbage filling the air in Port Arthur.

Walkes warns in the letter that "this is a deadly conglomerate, an incubator for bacterial growth, parasite multiplication, fungi generation, protozoan and rickettesial replication, rodent and other small animal infestation and flies breeding."

Parasites can infect children playing in the environment, Walkes notes. And protozoans can get into the water supply, which causes chronic diarrhea, according to Walkes.

In order to avoid the medical risks, Walkes says the garbage, especially in Port Arthur needs to be removed within the week.

Port Arthur spokeswoman Risa Carpenter tells KFDM/Fox 4 that 159,000 cubic yards of debris has been picked up in the city. There are 34 vehicles hauling storm trash.

Waco Avenue in the city's Highland addition is a small street that's been made smaller because of the large piles of debris that line the roadway - trash that's been there now for more than a month.

"We just like something to start progressing, moving forward," says resident June Anthony. "We need help."

Anthony, like many Port Arthur residents, is frustrated. She says not only is her home blocked by debris, she can't spend a lot of time here.

As we found ourselves, the stench is awful and she says it's making her sick.

"Everything is just rotten," she says. "The flies are everywhere."

That's what concerns Dr. Walkes, the county's top health official. He says not only is the debris an eyesore, but also a health threat.

"You've got a lot of bacteria, all types of rodents and small animals, that pass diseases onto humans," Walkes says.

Walkes says if the pace of debris removal doesn't speed up, he has not ruled out calling the state health department.

Anthony worries the debris is affecting the community both physically and mentally.

"It's just a bad aura," she says. "You're sad. You're depressed."

You can read Dr. Walkes' letter in its entirety here:


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