updated 10/31/2005 10:03:53 PM ET 2005-11-01T03:03:53

Environmentalists filed a lawsuit Monday over the state’s decision to reopen an old landfill to handle debris from Hurricane Katrina.

The city-owned garbage dump was closed by federal regulators in the 1980s, but a month after the storm, the state Department of Environmental Quality allowed the Old Gentilly Landfill to be reopened.

Since then, it has become a main drop-off for debris and trucks carrying furniture, mattresses and building materials.

In its lawsuit, the Louisiana Environmental Action Network charges that the landfill is poorly suited to receive the soggy remains of gutted homes because it’s not lined to stop contaminants from leaching into the ground and its isn’t ringed with containment berms.

“We don’t want to respond to one disaster by creating another one,” said Robert Wiygul, a lawyer for LEAN.

Chuck Brown, an assistant secretary at Department of Environmental Quality, said the landfill meets all standards and was reopened because it’s closer than newer landfills outside the city. “The ultimate goal is speed,” he said. The high mound sits east of the city, five miles from the nearest homes.

The fears about the landfill are not without precedent.

When Hurricane Betsy flooded the city in 1965, much of the debris from that hurricane was dumped in the Agriculture Street Landfill. Homes and a school were built atop the landfill before it was found to be contaminated and declared a Superfund site.

Also Monday, Louisiana’s death toll from Hurricane Katrina was revised to 1,055, five more than at the end of last week, according to information compiled by state health officials. In all, 1,301 deaths have been blamed on Katrina in five Gulf Coast states.

Katrina also killed 228 people in Mississippi, 14 in Florida, two in Georgia and two in Alabama.

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