AsthmaMoms World Trade Center: Environmental Health Articles

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9/11 WTC Environmental Health News
2006 Archive

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2006: January – June

JUNE
  • New Model to Assess World Trade Center Fallout … The environmental and health consequences of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center have been the subject of controversy almost from the beginning. Scientists at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, have created a computerized model that will help public health officials understand the degree of harmful exposure in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. … “The integration of model results and observations allows us to roughly estimate the amount of aerosol produced and conclude, for example, that the maximum concentration of contaminants in Brooklyn and Queens during a few days following the attack was about an order of magnitude less than in Manhattan,” Stenchikov said. … (Rutgers, June 29, 2006)
  • Downtown ‘granny’bids farewell … “Meike came with her friend Norbert, stayed on and off for 10 years,” says Dreyfus. “She was on the roof with me on 9/11. She was three months pregnant and stayed on the roof taking pictures as the cloud of dust wafted over. I told her to get off, that the air was not good to breathe. But she was adamant that this needed to be documented.” Meike gave birth to a stillborn baby three months later. “It was like smoking 40 packs of cigarettes in one day,” Dreyfus says the doctors said. “No one is talking about the increase in autism in Chinatown or the 9/11 cough which is being listed as new onset asthma,” she said. “I have to be outspoken for the children.” … (Downtown Express, June 23-29, 2006)
  • 9/11 responders speak of pain … David Miller coughed into a napkin, leaving behind a quarter-sized smear of blood. The hacking is a constant reminder of the 10 days the National Guardsman spent clearing debris at Ground Zero. Forty-eight hours after he arrived in the smoking aftermath of the Sept. 11 attack, Miller said yesterday, the health effects from airborne debris were obvious and severe. “I was practically blind, I was coughing, I had blisters all up and down my arms,” he said. “If I’d been smart I wouldn’t have gone back.” Today, Miller’s health is crumbling. The 39-year-old Bronx construction worker said he suffers chronic lung infections, skin rashes and a 60 percent drop in lung capacity. … (NYNewsday, by Andrew Strickler, by June 26, 2006)
  • Emergency Workers Gauge 9/11 Health Toll….. Two days after arriving at ground zero to clear debris from the smoking ruins of the World Trade Center, David Miller could feel the physical effects. “I was practically blind, I was coughing, I had blisters all up and down my arms,” the National Guardsman said Sunday at a discussion about lingering health problems among first responders. “If I’d been smart, I wouldn’t have gone back.” Nearly five years later, the 39-year-old suffers from hacking, bloody coughs, chronic lung infections, skin rashes and a 60 percent loss of lung capacity, he said. Miller was among several first responders to speak Sunday at the event organized by the nonprofit group New York 9/11 Truth, which claims that the government covered up intelligence failures leading to the attacks and accuses officials of exposing rescue workers to toxic conditions at ground zero. … Last week, a U.S. federal court judge heard arguments over whether the city and its contractors should be granted immunity against lawsuits filed on behalf of thousands of emergency workers who got sick after working in the dust of the World Trade Center. The city has argued it has legal immunity against the claims. Les Jamieson, who organized Sunday’s event at The Community Church of New York in Manhattan, said that, for some who felt they should have been financially compensated, the panel offered an opportunity to speak out. … (AP/abc, June 26, 2006)
  • PBA Blasts Hosp’s 9/11 Health Monitoring … “We need to find out what cancers and serious disorders are out there so we know what to look for,” said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. “Millions of dollars are being spent, and we’re getting no information.” … (NYPost, by Susan Edelman and Carl Campanile, June 25, 2006)
  • WTC First Responders Lawsuit To Continue Next Week … More than 8,000 workers are represented in the suit, which alleges they worked in the rubble without proper gear, ultimately leading to various health ailments. The plaintiffs include police officers, firefighters and EMTs. “Yesterday I got another email from a woman in Montana whose sister died of leukemia,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney David Worby. “Yesterday I got a phone call from an electrician whose husband died of stomach cancer and three days earlier we got another call from a relative of someone who died from throat and tongue cancer. Those people were given zero protection.” … Meanwhile, state lawmakers plan to take up a bill to protect city workers who were exposed to toxic substances after September 11th. The legislation would make accidental death benefits available to members of the police, fire, sanitation, and correction departments, as well as EMT’s sheriff deputies and state troopers, who worked at the Trade Center site, the Fresh Kills landfill, the city morgue, or on barges between Manhattan and Fresh Kills. … (NY1, June 23, 2006)
  • 9/11 Suit Tests New York Stand on Immunity … A federal judge heard oral arguments yesterday on the city’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought on behalf of more than 8,000 firefighters, police officers and construction workers who say they were harmed by exposure to toxic substances while working at ground zero. The city’s lawyers have argued that the city cannot be sued because it has legal immunity under a state civil defense law.During the hearing, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of United States District Court in Manhattan focused on how long after Sept. 11 the legal immunity claimed by the city lasted and whether the $1 billion federal insurance fund that has been set aside to cover such claims against the city could be considered evidence that it could, in fact, be sued. The questions are crucial to determining whether the responders and other workers can seek damages from the city and 150 private contractors for ailments they say they suffered as a result of the work they did downtown in the nine months after the twin towers collapsed. … (NYTimes, by Anthony DePalma, June 23, 2006)
  • A clinic for their 9/11 ills: LMDC pressed for $5M fund … They’re asking for $5 million in “seed money” to launch a pulmonary and environmental health clinic in lower Manhattan, local officials and residents said yesterday at a City Hall press conference. The clinic would diagnose and treat community residents and workers suffering from health problems that some medical experts blame on 9/11 and its environmental aftermath. “These are people who lived and breathed under the 9/11 plume,” said City Councilman Alan Gerson (D-Lower Manhattan). He urged that clinic startup funds come from the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. (LMDC), the city-state agency overseeing planning of the World Trade Center site and memorial there. LMDC spokesman John Gallagher said, “I’m not familiar with the proposal, therefore I can’t comment.” … (NYDaily News, by Frank Lombardi, June 21, 2006)
  • Hughes wins vice chair slot on C.B. 1 elections … Catherine McVay Hughes, chairperson of the World Trade Center Committee, won the vice chairperson seat handily beating Anthony Notaro. Hughes, a Financial District resident, is trained as a civil engineer and worked for the New York Public Interest Research Group, doing advocacy work about lead poisoning in children. … Menin has no intentions of removing her from her post on the World Trade Center Committee. “Catherine is so uniquely qualified, she is a true expert in environmental affairs,” said Menin. “I can’t think of any other board member who has her background.” … (Downtown Express, by Ronda Kaysen, June 2006)
  • Residents’ 9/11 health funds running out, but survey continues … Ann DeFalco’s 9-year-old son has asthma, which periodically keeps him home from school. Dolores Rode still takes medication for insomnia and, until recently, suffered from acid reflux. Lori Mogol’s husband has persistent upper respiratory problems and chronic allergies. Rode, DeFalco and Mogol all have two things in common: they live within blocks of the World Trade Center and none of these ailments afffected their lives prior to Sept. 11. “He’s got what most of the local residents have,” Mogol said of her husband, Richard Zimbler. The couple lives on Greenwich and Duane St., eight blocks north of the Trade Center site. “People here have much worse allergies. People have asthma who never had asthma before. Even people’s dogs are sick.” With newfound attention being paid to the health of 9/11 rescue workers since a New Jersey coroner attributed first responder James Zadroga’s death to Trade Center toxins, local residents wonder what health risks they face and if their persistent ailments were caused by exposure to the toxins that covered their neighborhood. “The needs of the residents have been ignored, particularly the youth,” said DeFalco, a Seaport resident. “It’s not just a disaster of 9/11, it’s the year that continued with the pocket fires, it’s the cleaning up and removal of debris, it’s the rebuilding construction. We wouldn’t have the rebuilding without 9/11. It continues.” “Residents had a double blow in many ways,” said Gerry Bogacz, co-chairperson of the World Trade Center Survivors’ Network, an organization of more than 700 Trade Center disaster survivors. “Not only did they have the trauma of being at home or in danger, but the trauma of being out of their houses and having to throw everything out and start over again. You can see the psychological and physical impact on residents” In the next couple of years, we don’t know what [health condition] is going to present itself.” … “A lot of people have a hard time talking about it [health problems] right now,” said Catherine McVay Hughes, a registrant and chairperson of Community Board 1’s World Trade Center Committee. “That would be the worst thing that a mother could do — put their kid at risk — so some people might be in denial about it.” … “Insurance companies are not paying for all the costs that are necessary. Sometimes we have to make other choices—choose another medication that is not as expensive, but not as effective,” said DeFalco. “The registry is not enough. We need a free clinic and it should include a pediatric unit.” Any available resources are rapidly disappearing, with many programs ending in the fiscal year 2007, say advocates. “We’re very concerned about after 2007, what is going to be out there?” said Bogacz. “If people don’t get what they need, they could get into more serious situations.” … (Downtown Express, by Ronda Kaysen, June 16-22, 2006)
  • Protesters Urge Better Care for Those Exposed to 9/11 Dust … More than 200 people — first responders, union members and politicians — rallied at ground zero yesterday to protest the government’s response to the health effects of 9/11 and to demand comprehensive care for those possibly sickened by the World Trade Center wreckage. The two-hour rally was the latest effort by what has become an organized coalition dedicated to addressing the long-term impact of the disaster. It came as a growing body of evidence suggested that the noxious cocktail of dust and fumes at the World Trade Center site has caused lung problems, other illnesses and, in at least one case, death…..More than $100 million has been set aside for the screening and treatment of ground zero workers, but Representative Maloney and others said that money was not nearly enough to screen tens of thousands of workers for decades and to guarantee benefits and treatment. … (NYTimes, by Damien Cave, June 18, 2006)
  • Ground Zero Workers Rally for Federal Aid … Hundreds of ground zero workers and several lawmakers asked President Bush on Saturday to send more help to ailing rescue workers. …. (Boston, June 17, 2006)
  • Rescue Workers: Government Should Pay 9-11 Health Bill; Rescuers Want ‘Solid Commitment’ To Funding Health Care of 9-11 Workers … The primary organizers of the event were the 2 million-member New York State AFL-CIO and Unsung Heroes Helping Heroes, an organization of rescueand recovery workers working on behalf of the rights of disaster-response workers. … (WCBC, June 17, 2006)
  • CB 1 Questions WTC Health Follow Up … The World Trade Center Health Registry, which has conducted interviews of tens of thousands of Lower Manhattan residents, workers and rescue personnel to monitor the lasting health effects of the Sept. 11 attacks, is set to begin follow-up surveys this month, the first of many follow-ups over the next 20 years. Members of Community Board 1’s World Trade Center Committee, who were recently presented with an update on some of the survey’s findings, wonder to what end. “It’s not serving any active function,” said committee member Marc Donnenfeld, who joined others on the committee in questioning the surveys’ usefulness to the survivors of the attack and the neighborhood residents potentially effected by the fallout. Committee chairwoman, Catherine McVay Hughes, said the community board’s primary concern is that “money is allocated for screening and treatment, and this survey does not do that.” … Follow up questions to participants will be aimed to gauge the condition of residents’ homes and their cleaning after the attacks; mask use and their type and fit for rescue and recovery workers; and to glean information about evacuation timing from building survivors. Participants can expect questionnaires to be e-mailed, or mailed, to them this month. The registry’s purpose is to provide material and reports for medical experts and researchers to examine, but interviewers do not provide medical screening, assistance or referrals. “We’re not an examination program,” said Farfel. “The registry is a tool for policy implementation and change.” … (Tribeca Trib, by Barry Owens, June 15, 2006)
  • Use of Air Masks at Issue In Claims of 9/11 Illnesses … With mounting evidence that exposure to the toxic smoke and ash at ground zero during the nine-month cleanup has made many people sick, attention is now focusing on the role of air-filtering masks, or respirators, that cost less than $50 and could have shielded workers from some of the toxins. More than 150,000 such masks were distributed and only 40,000 people worked on the pile, but most workers either did not have the masks or did not use them. These respirators are now at the center of a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 8,000 firefighters, police officers and private workers who say they were exposed to toxic substances at or near ground zero that have made them sick or may eventually do so. While residents and office workers in the area also suffered ill effects, the work crews at the site who had the greatest exposure are thought to have sustained the greatest harm. From legal documents presented in the case, a tale emerges of heroic but ineffective efforts to protect workers, with botched opportunities, confused policies and contradictions that failed to ensure their safety. Lawyers representing the workers say that there was no central distribution point for the respirators, no single organization responsible for giving them out, and no one with the power to make sure the respirators that were distributed got used, and used properly. By contrast, at the Pentagon, workers not wearing proper protective gear were escorted off the site. ”Employers are responsible for providing a safe workplace,” said David Worby, the lawyer whose firm represents the workers. ”But the majority of workers at ground zero were given nothing, or had masks that didn’t work.” The allegations are based on the lawyers’ review of more than 400,000 pages of official documents and the testimony of 30 government witnesses. The city, which is the principal government defendant, has moved to have the lawsuit dismissed. It argues that it and the private contractors it hired to help in the cleanup did their best to provide adequate equipment and to get workers to use it, but many workers ignored the warnings. Many workers cited reasons for not keeping the masks on, like the stifling heat and the difficulty of communicating while wearing them. Even if the response to an unprecedented emergency was flawed, the city’s lawyers argue, a firmly established legal immunity under the State Defense Emergency Act and other laws protects New York from legal liability. … .Oral argument on the city’s motion to dismiss the case is scheduled for June 22 before Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of United States District Court in Manhattan. … Each firefighter is issued a full-face mask that is part of a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus, also known as a Scott pack, which functions like scuba gear, supplying air while sealing out hazards. But the tanks contain no more than 18 minutes of oxygen. The system works well if a firefighter is dashing into a burning building to rescue a baby. For a nine-month recovery operation, it was useless. Once their Scott packs were exhausted, the first firefighters on the scene had no backup gear. … Records produced in the lawsuit indicate that the Fire Department put in an order with the city for 5,000 P100 Organic Vapor/Acid Gas half-face masks, which cost less than $50 each, and 10,000 replacement filter cartridges on Sept. 28. But the order was not processed for almost two months. … Both sides in the suit cast an uneasy eye on the future. The city clearly worries that if there is another attack it will not be able to hire contractors and respond to the emergency without fear of becoming entangled in legal liabilities, which could hamper its ability to restore order and protect the city. … (NYTimes, by Anthony DePalma, June 5, 2006)
  • City Out to cripple 9/11 claims say docs … City lawyers are “fishing for information” at medical gatherings that could be used to undermine claims for 9/11-related health problems, doctors and union officials charged yesterday. Two attorneys from the Law Department attended a meeting last week that organizers said was intended for doctors and advocates to have a frank discussion about how to treat patients suffering from illnesses believed linked to Ground Zero toxins. “This was an outrage,” said Micki Siegel De Hernandez, health and safety director of the Communications Workers of America. “We never would have participated in the meeting if we knew that the city Law Department was there fishing for information they could use against future claims.” But Law Department officials said there was no conflict of interest. “It would be almost remiss of us not to stay on top of issues that affect our office,” said agency spokeswoman Kate O’Brien Ahlers. … In some, he said, there appears to be “a period of latency” before symptoms develop. In others, symptoms have worsened over time, becoming bad enough to drive the person to seek help for the first time. “There’s a chronic, progressive element to this,” he said. Herbert said she is also concerned about a small number of cases of lung scarring similar to that which killed Det. James Zadroga, 34, of Little Egg Harbor, N.J., in January. The coroner there found swirls in Zadroga’s lungs caused by foreign material, which he linked to Ground Zero dust — the first death to be officially tied to World Trade Center exposure. “We’re concerned because now we have a very small number of World Trade Center responders with much more serious lung scarring diseases,” Herbert said. … Prezant coauthored a study published last month that showed the average lung function decline among fire fighters who were at Ground Zero one year after Sept. 11 was the equivalent of 12 years of aging. World Trade Center workers are exchanging stories of cancers in colleagues — especially of the blood, kidneys and pancreas — they believe are the result of ingesting pulverized cement, glass fibers and other toxic substances at Ground Zero. … “We have a rough estimate of 200 to 300 people who are between the ages of 30 and 50 [with cancer],” said Jon Sferazo, 51, of Huntington Station, presiding officer of Unsung Heroes Helping Heroes, an advocacy group for Sept. 11 responders. “These cancers seem to be occurring in people far too young,” he said. Doctors are unwilling to link the cancer cases and exposure to Ground Zero toxins because it generally takes years for cancers to develop — but they are tracking them closely. “We don’t know if these are just normal, sporadic cases or if a pattern is developing. The methodology [in monitoring patients] has to be vigilant,” Luft said. … (Daily News, by Paul H.B. Shin, June 2, 2006)
  • WTC Responders’ Illness Worse than Expected: Almost Five Years after Terror Attacks, New Critical Health Cases Are Surfacing … Doctors who treat World Trade Center responders say they are surprised almost five years later by the growing number seeking help for the first time — 100 people a month in the biggest monitoring program — and by the severity of illnesses among Sept. 11 workers already in treatment. “There’s no question there’s continuing demand and many in the treatment program are quite ill,” said Dr. Robin Herbert, codirector of the World Trade Center Worker and Volunteer Medical Screening Program at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan. Herbert, whose program has examined about 15,000 responders since 2002, said doctors are finding “remarkable persistence” in breathing disorders such as chronic sinusitis and asthma, stomach ailments such as gastrointestinal reflux disease and psychological problems such as post traumatic stress disorder — a suite of maladies one survivor called “my 9/11 plague.” Some patients also have come in with severe lung scarring, which can be fatal. And there have been cases of cancer, which worries experts, though they are unwilling to directly attribute them to exposure to Ground Zero toxins. Doctors are also surprised by the numbers of new patients. Mount Sinai’s screening program sees 100 new people a month, Herbert said. Despite adding more health care providers, Herbert said that for the last six months, the waiting list for treatment has grown to more than three months. “We honestly did not expect such ongoing demand,” she said. … (Newsday, by Ridgely, June 1, 2006)
  • Sick and Tired of Fighting for Workers’ Comp … He now has multiple respiratory problems, gastrointestinal reflux disease and posttraumatic stress disorder so bad he has twice attempted suicide. …(Newdsday, by Ridgely Ochs, June 1, 2006)
  • 9/11 Health Registry Watns to Re-Interview Participants … Holding true to its promise to keep tabs on those exposed to affects of the World Trade Center attacks for 20 years, the Department of Health is asking anyone enrolled in its WTC Health Registry to be surveyed a second time. “We wish we had all of the answers. We wish we knew what the long-term effects of 9/11 are on the health and mental health of those exposed. But we don’t,” said DOH Commissioner Thomas Frieden. The DOH announced plans Thursday to re-survey the 71,000 people who signed up for their unprecedented registry, because they either lived, worked, or helped out at the World Trade Center site on 9/11 or in the days or months after. Surveys will be mailed or emailed to participants, two-thirds of whom are from the city. “We know that those exposed to dust and fumes of 9/11 report a high rate of respiratory and mental health symptoms. What we don’t know is how long those symptoms are going to persist,” said Frieden. … The DOH says it’s not re-interviewing its registrants to ignite fear, but rather to get a better hold on what it’s dealing with. “It is a platform for further policy making, including all sorts of programs, including monitoring and treatment,” says 9/11 Health Coordinator Dr. John Howard. The DOH expects it will take several months to reach each of the more than 70,000 registrants, and then several months after that to fully examine the results of their surveys. That means it’s likely to be years before the full effects of 9/11 will be known. (NY1, by Amanda Farinacci, June 1, 2006)

MAY

  • Lawmakers Push For Bill To Provide 9/11 Workers With Compensation … State lawmakers are being urged to pass legislation to provide workers compensation benefits for those who helped in World Trade Center site cleanup efforts. Assemblyman Jonathan Bing, who is spearheading the bill, was joined by several other elected officials at a City Hall news conference Wednesday. Bing says although workers and volunteers were exposed to chemical hazards at site, more than one in four workers’ compensations claims are denied. “Because of the need of these 9/11 workers having their claims denied at twice the rate of non-9/11 workers, we really sought of need to have a level playing field created to allow these individuals to have their claims met and satisfied by the workers’ compensation forms,” said the assemblyman. “Our goal is simple: Everyone who was exposed to the toxins at Ground Zero should be monitored, and everyone who is sick should be treated,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney. … (NY1, May 31, 2006)
  • Preparing for a Higher 9-11 Toll … The 9-11 Victims Compensation Fund made awards to 1,400 FDNY employees. But almost twice that number have filed affidavits of their 9-11 service in case they develop or die from an illness stemming from their time at the site … (Village Voice, by Jarrett Murphy, May 30, 2006)
  • A Sign of renewal and a Reminder at Ground Zero … Fiterman Hall didn’t exactly overshadow the official opening of 7 World Trade Center today (the sun was in the wrong position for that) but the ragged remnant of 9/11 offered a silent reminder of how much more work there is to do. … The ragged remnant of Fiterman Hall, pictured in the background, played silent counterpoint to an exuberant Jeff Koons sculpture that was unveiled today. … With its shattered walls and missing windows, its emptied floors behind shroudlike nets, the 15-story Fiterman Hall played silent counterpoint — like the unwanted party guest that everyone notices but no one acknowledges — to the candied-apple exuberance of a plump Jeff Koons sculpture that was unveiled by Larry A. Silverstein, the developer of 7 World Trade Center, outside the building’s front door on Greenwich Street. … Fiterman Hall, across Barclay Street, can wipe that smile off quickly. This 1950’s office building had been transformed into a classroom hall for the Borough of Manhattan Community College. Nearing the end of a six-year renovation, it was badly damaged on Sept. 11, 2001, by the collapse of the original 7 World Trade Center. It is to be decontaminated, demolished and replaced by a new Fiterman Hall.But the federal Environmental Protection Agency has posed dozens of questions about a draft deconstruction plan that was submitted in January. The state Dormitory Authority, which is overseeing the project with the City University of New York, expects to submit an amended and expanded plan to the regulators in July. On the fastest conceivable track, decontamination might begin in October and run through next February, with a four-. to six-month demolition to follow, suggesting that Mr. Koons’s mirror-polished sculpture will be reflecting Fiterman’s ghostly presence for quite some time to come. …. (NYTimes, by David W. Dunlap, May 23, 2006)
  • Over Budget, Fulton Street Transit Hub Faces a Redesign … Mr. Nagaraja blamed rising real estate values that have forced the authority to pay more for private property at the site. Construction costs have also increased because of more stringent standards for asbestos removal adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency, transit officials said. … He said a priority would be put on fulfilling commitments that were part of an environmental impact statement on the project, which took two years to complete. … (NYTimes, by Thomas J. Lueck, May 23, 2006)
  • 9/11 Compensation claims Continue to Trickle in Late … About 290 New York City employees have filed workers’ compensation claims stemming from the World Trade Center attack since the two-year deadline for filing such claims passed, city officials said yesterday. City employees filed about 900 claims within the two years after the 9/11 attack, and nearly all, 96.5 percent, were found to be valid and eligible for compensation, the officials said. In two-thirds of those cases, however, no compensation was ever paid, because the workers did not ultimately lose wages or incur major medical costs, they said. … (NYTimes, by Sewell Chan, May 23, 2006)
  • City Workers’ 9/11 Claims Meet Obstacles … Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s decision to intervene in the case of a former deputy mayor who believes that he became severely ill from working around ground zero after the Sept. 11 attack has cast unwanted attention on the city’s handling of 9/11 workers’ compensation cases. Scores of such cases — the city could not say precisely how many — continue to drag on nearly five years after the attack. … Although the system was set up to eliminate the need for litigation, compensation cases can be as protracted and adversarial as lawsuits. Of the 313,102 claims resolved in New York State in 2004, 55 percent involved a hearing at which evidence was provided, and the rest were resolved informally. Most private employers rely on insurance companies to identify and challenge claims that might be fraudulent, but some of the largest employers, like the City of New York, are self-insured and decide on their own when to challenge claims. Industry experts have estimated that 10 to 20 percent of workers’ compensation claims may be baseless. … “I don’t think the system is well designed for diseases that have long latency periods,” he said. As of last week, compensation claims had been filed by or on behalf of 1,436 employees of the City of New York and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority citing deaths, injuries or illnesses caused by 9/11, according to the State Workers’ Compensation Board. That figure does not include claims by police officers, firefighters and sanitation workers, who are covered under separate workplace-injury programs. (NYTimes, by Sewell Chan, May 22, 2006)
  • NY City Council and 3 Community Boards Reject EPA’s Lower Manhattan Testing Plan … (NYCOSH, May 22, 2006)
  • Residents and Workers Picket Lower Manhattan Development Corporation May 8 to Protest Unsafe 130 Liberty Demolition Plans and Co … (NYCOSH, May 22, 2006)
  • ‘Ms. Whitman, was New York Betrayed by the EPA after 9/11?’ ‘No Comment, Next Question.’ … (NYCOSH, May 22, 2006)
  • Silverstein Says Insureres Might Not Pay $4.6 Billion … And Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal criticized the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s handling of the Deutsche Bank building. The recurring theme from the assembly members was their frustration over the lack of public accountability and the absence of visible progress, in spite of one ceremony after another. … (NYTimes, by Charles V. Bagli, May 19, 2006)
  • Worker Lobbying Pays Off: Protective Windows Due for 90 Church … Calling themselves the “little coalition that could,” a group of labor activists representing city, state and Federal employees May 9 celebrated their success in wresting a promise from the Housing Authority to install double-paned windows on all floors of the building at 90 Church St. in lower Manhattan. ‘KNEW WE HAD TO DO SOMETHING’: Lainie Kitt (second from left), a veteran Housing Authority employee, said she became active in the successful push to get double-paned windows installed at 90 Church St. because, in addition to current concern about air quality next to the old World Trade Center site, ‘for the next 10 years or so [the site is] going to be one of the biggest construction projects in the world.’ …The coalition members noted that they and hundreds of municipal workers were urged to return to the area after 9/11 by city and state officials desperate to revitalize Lower Manhattan’s moribund economy. In keeping with their tradition of public service, they said, the workers had wanted to do what they could to help, but sometimes paid with their health. Paul Stein, Health & Safety Committee chairperson of PEF Division 199, noted that the building’s owners had also previously agreed to increase air quality checks at 90 Church St. from semi-annually to quarterly and installed a top-notch air filtering system. “But we really needed to have all three – those other things, and the doublepaned windows. 90 Church St. isn’t just dealing with Ground Zero and all its construction,” he said. “The building is also adjacent to several others that were contaminated on 9/11 and are going to be pulled down; we have Postal trucks driving up to the bays on one side and dropping off and picking up mail; and we’ve got all the diesel fumes from the trucks, not to mention the commuter and tourist buses that sit idling on the corner. It’s surrounded on every side.” … (The Chief Leader, by Ginger Adams Otis, May 19, 2006)
  • Public Lives: The Lung Specialist Who Answered the 9/11 Call … His task is minimizing the damage to some 14,000 sets of lungs, including his. Breathing easy is not nearly so easy for his firefighter patients, or for him, as it used to be and has cost some their careers. “This is not a research study; this is about people’s lives and about telling them that with early diagnosis and aggressive treatment, there’s hope,” says Dr. Prezant, 50 … Dr. Prezant, a chief medical officer for the Fire Department (data-driven public health initiatives combating asthma diabetes and other chronic emergency complaints are his next responsibility) and co-director of the department’s World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program, has been tracing and treating the impact of the rescue and recovery work on firefighters’ lungs since October 2001. … (NYTimes, by Robin Finn, May 19, 2006)
  • Ex- Guiliani Aides Criticize City Handling of 9/11 Claim … Several associates of former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani took the rare step of publicly criticizing the Bloomberg administration yesterday as they reacted with anger and confusion to the city’s handling of a workers’ compensation claim filed by a former deputy mayor who served Mr. Giuliani for eight years. New details emerged yesterday about the claim filed by the former deputy mayor, Rudy Washington, 51, who has asserted that he has severe respiratory ailments, requiring prescription drugs and emergency hospitalizations, as a result of his work near ground zero on Sept. 11, 2001, and afterward. On March 14, a state administrative law judge ruled that Mr. Washington was entitled to health-care benefits because he had been injured on the job. On April 10, lawyers for the city appealed, arguing that Mr. Washington was not entitled to the benefits because he did not file his claim within two years of the injury. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday that he believed the appeal was based on “a technicality” and that the lawyers had erred. “A lawyer was probably reading the law too closely and shouldn’t have done that,” he said. …. (NYTimes, by Sewell Chan, May 19, 2006)
  • Deutsche demo demonstration: Protestors gathered at 1 Liberty Place on Monday to demonstrate [against] the Deutsche Bank demolition. The 40-story tower at 130 Liberty St. was badly damaged and contaminated with World Trade Center debris on 9/11. It is being cleaned and demolished by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. to make way for the new World Trade Center. The deconstruction has come under heavy scrutiny in recent weeks. Workers recently stopped a painstaking search for human remains on the building’s roof after asbestos was found in areas previously deemed clean. The Environmental Protection Agency, which approved the cleanup and demolition plan, has not signed off on the floor-by-floor demolition phase of the building, which is expected to begin next month, because of changes to the plan. … (Downtown Express, May 12 – 18, 2006)
  • Nadler: Rudy Washington Deserves Compensation – and so do Thousands of Other Ground Zero Workers and Residents (News Release, May 18, 2006)
  • Rudy’s Deputy: I Have 9/11 Illness … A deputy mayor in the Giuliani administration who directed officials to test the air after the 9/11 attacks has filed a medical claim for respiratory illnesses suspected to have been caused by the pollution at Ground Zero, The Post has learned. Rudy Washington, who was caught in the plume of dust and debris after the first of the Twin Towers fell and who worked tirelessly downtown for weeks, is the highest-ranking official known to have fallen ill from a suspected WTC-related ailment. Washington’s claim for his rising medical expenses, filed about a year ago, was approved recently after a state Worker’s Compensation Board hearing, the sources said. The Bloomberg administration has told Washington it plans to appeal the approval. Several sources said Mayor Bloomberg, whom Washington – the highest-ranking black in Giuliani’s administration – backed early in his 2001 campaign for City Hall and again last year, is personally aware of the case. … The sources said Washington got sick almost immediately after the attack, and was hospitalized with a mysterious illness. He was later diagnosed with asthma, a condition that he never suffered prior to 9/11, the sources said. He is now on several medications, and has been in and out of doctors’ offices and emergency rooms in the past five years. The former deputy mayor joined a screening program at Mount Sinai Hospital that treats rescue workers and others exposed to the fetid air. … (NYPost, by Maggie Haberman, May 17, 2006)
  • Bank cleanup back on … Work is set to resume at the Deutsche Bank tower at Ground Zero today with regulators increasing their oversight of the toxic cleanup. The 40-story tower was ruined during the Sept. 11 attack and is set for demolition next month. Workers already had begun cleaning out toxic dust generated by the collapsing towers. That work was suspended Friday after the Environmental Protection Agency complained that contaminated debris was repeatedly being carted off site. After meeting with the EPA and other agencies yesterday, the state Lower Manhattan Development Corp. agreed that no more material will be brought off site until a full inspection is complete. The state agency also asked regulators “to increase their oversight of abatement work in order to ensure that our contractors are fully in compliance with the approved deconstruction plan,” said the LMDC’s John Gallagher. EPA spokeswoman Mary Mears said no date has been set for the inspection. Meanwhile, the search for human remains inside the tower remains on hold after the discovery of asbestos on the roof. (NYDaily News, by Greg B. Smith, NYDaily News)
  • Letter: The Dust of 9/11 … If the effects of inhaling World Trade Center dust are debilitating but treatable for firefighters, as a recent health study suggests (“Firefighters’ Lung Capacity Suffered After 9/11 Work,” news article, May 16), New York’s public health authorities ought to do two things. First, they should offer screening and treatment to neighborhood residents who suffered significant exposure. Second, they should prevent the next wave of exposures as buildings like Deutsche Bank, containing large quantities of dust, are taken down. That process is now entrusted to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, an agency with no relevant expertise. Better supervision could avert another wave of 9/11 casualties. (NYTimes, by March Scherzer, May 16, 2006)
  • Firefighters’ Lung Capacity Suffered After 9/11 Work … A new health study shows that the city’s firefighters suffered a significant decline in their lung capacity after working at ground zero, but doctors say that in many cases, with proper treatment, the loss may be temporary. The study compared breathing tests done before and after the towers fell and found that firefighters had a loss in lung capacity in the first year after Sept. 11 equal to what they might have lost over a dozen years of normal duty. It was published late last month in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. The average loss of 372 milliliters represents about 6 percent of a firefighter’s six-liter lung capacity. But it is more than 10 times the normal age-related annual loss. For many firefighters, this diminished breathing ability is not considered a disease but an impairment, like a broken arm, that hampers activity but can eventually return to normal. Unlike ailments and diseases that seem to be related to ground zero exposure but are difficult to prove, the reduction in lung capacity, shown by the before-and-after tests, can be firmly traced to the recovery work. Dr. David J. Prezant, co-director of the Fire Department’s World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program, and an author of the study, said that with proper treatment and monitoring, many firefighters are likely to recover their normal breathing ability as their lungs cleanse themselves naturally. But Stephen J. Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, said that most firefighters knew almost immediately that working at ground zero had hurt their health and that many are not optimistic that things will return to normal. …. To suppress the inflammation caused by the inhaled dust, firefighters in the department’s treatment program have been given nasal and pulmonary steroids and decongestants. Dr. Prezant said that in time, the dust particles may be exhaled or dissolved. “Anecdotally, I can say that people in the treatment program, especially those who have had early diagnosis and treatment, feel that their lung function is plateauing or improving,” he said. “We have not seen further decreases.” But he conceded that some might deteriorate further and eventually reach the point where they can no longer work. Apart from the lung function study, doctors are beginning to see an increased incidence of chronic lung scarring and long-term respiratory ailments among responders. Several studies are now under way to determine whether the increased rates of disease are related to the trade center dust. The results of the study of 12,079 firefighters, which were reported in The New York Post yesterday, also suggest that construction workers and volunteers who helped in the rescue and recovery operation may have suffered similar respiratory losses if they were at ground zero in the first week after the towers fell. … Although firefighters were able to cough out some of the dust, much remained lodged in their lungs, where it can be surrounded by mucous or enzymes that try to break it down. In that process, airways can become increasingly constricted, reducing the capacity of the lungs to hold air. (NYTimes, by Anthony DePalma, May 16, 2006)
  • Don’t bank on anything … The closer the state gets to actually knocking down the ruins of the former Deutsche Bank building at Ground Zero, the more the tricky job seems hexed. New questions have arisen about unsafe work conditions and an inadequate cleanup of toxic dust, while the search for human remains has been suspended after asbestos was found on the roof. The problems with the Deutsche tower at 130 Liberty St. continue to fester and grow as fund-raising for the WTC memorial has been put on hold and John Whitehead, chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., the state agency that oversees the World Trade Center site, resigned last week. On Friday, federal and state regulators asked the LMDC to stop work completely at 130 Liberty St. after observing contaminated debris being brought off site. The LMDC has asked the regulators to “clarify” their definition of contamination and will meet tomorrow to discuss the matter. The LMDC insists the cleanup and demolition work is on schedule, with the 40-story building that was ripped open during the 9/11 terrorist attacks set to begin coming down in June. … Haberman said a giant coin vault in the building’s sub-basement was “ready for demolition.” The vault must be removed so a concrete pad can be poured to support a large crane necessary for deconstruction. What Haberman forgot to mention was that the city Department of Buildings two weeks earlier had disapproved of the LMDC’s plan to demolish the vault. The city also disapproved of a plan to back-fill the area. As of Friday neither plan had been approved. Also, last week federal environmental officials voiced concern about the coin vault project, specifically worried that clouds of dust might escape into the neighborhood during the work. Haberman also failed to mention that two subcontractors at 130 Liberty were recently hit with thousands of dollars of fines by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In March, a worker for John Galt Co., who was wearing a safety harness he hadn’t hooked up, fell 39 feet off a sidewalk shed into the sub-basement. He was hospitalized with broken bones. Last week, OSHA fined John Galt $9,000 for safety violations, including inadequate fall protection, according to Richard Mendelson of OSHA. After that incident, the city Buildings Department hit the LMDC with a violation for failing to promptly notify that agency of the fall. In addition, last December another worker fell off scaffolding that didn’t have inner guardrails. OSHA fined Safeway Environmental $1,250; the company appealed the fine. In recent weeks, OSHA joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in questioning the safety of the LMDC’s plan to drop crushed concrete 40 stories down a 500-foot chute to street level. “We have raised [safety] concerns,” Mendelson said. “Workers have to remove that debris from under that chute so it doesn’t get clogged up.” … (NYDaily News, by Greg B. Smith, May 14, 2006)
  • Tracing Lung Ailments That Rose With 9/11 Dust … As they push their investigation into the health risks to workers in the recovery and cleanup operations at ground zero, medical detectives are focusing on a group of lung diseases that can lead to long-term disabilities and, in some cases, death. After nearly five years, it is still too early for these doctors, scientists and forensic pathologists to say with certainty whether any long-term cancer threat came with exposure to the toxic cloud unleashed by the trade center collapse. But there are already clear signs that the dust, smoke and ash that responders breathed in have led to an increase in diseases that scar the lungs and reduce their capacity to take in and let out air. … (New York Times, by Anthony DePalma, May 13, 2006)
  • Towering Controversy: Continuing Debate Points out Difficulty of Removing a Skyscraper Surrounded by Human Habitation … At its most recent monthly meeting, Community Board 1 passed an emergency resolution adding yet another voice to those opposing the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s demolition plans for 130 Liberty Street, the former Deutsche Bank building irreparably damaged and contaminated on Sept. 11, 2001. At issue are the qualifications of the John Galt Corporation and the safety record of Safeway Environmental Corporation, two companies hired to raze the blighted building, as well as certain changes in plans not authorized by the Environmental Protection Agency. Additionally, residents and environmental activists attending the meeting expressed alarm over what they said is insufficient emergency planning. Concerns over the hiring of the Galt Corp. center around the company’s alleged lack of experience with asbestos-tainted sites. According to several who came to CB1’s public session to air complaints, the Galt Corp. has only recently obtained the asbestos removal license required by the state Department of Labor and the city’s Department of Environmental Protection. … (Battery Park City Broadsheet, By Serena Hedison, April 28 – May 13, 2006)
  • Razing of Downtown Tower Should Pause, Regulators Say … Federal and state regulators asked the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation yesterday to stop work on the former Deutsche Bank building opposite ground zero. An inspector from the Environmental Protection Agency witnessed the removal yesterday of debris from the building that had not been properly cleaned, said Mary Mears, a spokeswoman for the agency. “This was certainly not the first time,” she said. “Now that it appears to be a pattern, we feel compelled to ask them to stop work until we can fix the problem in general.” Deconstruction of the 41-story former bank tower at 130 Liberty Street is not set to begin until next month. The current work involves abatement of asbestos and other hazardous substances. Besides the federal agency, the state’s Department of Labor and the city’s Department of Environmental Protection are monitoring the project. … Yesterday’s debris largely involved floor tiles from around the 35th floor. Work had already stopped for the day by the time the regulators made their recommendation. Cleaning work is performed within sealed areas before the debris is taken downstairs. Ms. Mears said there were at least three prior occasions when inspectors required that debris bins be returned for further cleaning. Last month, the rooftop cleanup was halted after a fragment of asbestos-containing material was found in the ballast. Hundreds of small fragments of human remains have also been found on the rooftop. (NYTimes, by David Dunlap, May 13, 2006)
  • EPA Wants To Halt Cleanup of Deutsche Bank Building …. Federal and state regulators want to stop cleanup work at the former Deutsche Bank Building next to the World Trade Center site. The Environmental Protection Agency says an inspector discovered debris was being removed before it was properly cleaned. EPA officials have asked the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to stop the work. The LMDC has asked to meet with the regulators on Monday to try to fix the problem. ….(NY1, May 13, 2006)
  • Bill Introduced For 9/11 Death Benefit Payment … The State Legislature has introduced a bill amending a state pension law to give line-of-duty death benefits to public employees who die from 9/11-related illnesses. … (The Chief Leader, by Ginger Adams Otis, May 12, 2006)
  • 9/11 First Responder Dies: Paramedic Deborah Reeve Succumbs to Asbestos Disease as Ground Zero Casualty List Continues to Grow … (Public Employee Press, by Alfredo Alvarado, May 2006)
  • Tribecans try to block project on environmental grounds…. Local residents and elected officials asked the city to halt the demolition of a stand of North Tribeca buildings, fearing they might be contaminated with World Trade Center dust. The six squat, one- and two-story buildings at Watts and Washington Sts. are being demolished to make way for a new residential tower, which has born the brunt of virulent criticism from local residents who say that the new development will be too large for the neighborhood. The Jack Parker Corp., which owns the property, finished testing the building for asbestos and has applied for asbestos removal permits from the City Dept. of Environmental Protection. But on May 4, elected leaders led by U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler sent letters to D.E.P. and the City Dept. of Buildings, urging the agencies to oversee the demolition and not to issue demolition permits until the site can be deemed safe from W.T.C.-related contamination. . “We want to address the possibility that there may be contaminants from the World Trade Center,” said Andrew Neale, a member of the Tribeca Community Association and Community Board 1. “The community is asking the Parker Corp. to do things properly.” The site, which is bounded by Watts, Washington, Desbrosses and West Sts., is one mile north of the World Trade Center site. Critics fear that toxic Trade Center dust might have impacted the building and the demolition should be monitored by regulatory agencies. … Nadler’s office was outraged that E.P.A. declined to get involved in the Parker site. “They are forced to deal with those sites [Deutsche Bank and Fiterman Hall,] but they don’t want to deal with anything further away, despite the fact that they are going to start a sampling plan” to test and clean Lower Manhattan residences for any remaining Trade Center dust, Arturo Garcia-Costas, an aide to Nadler, said. … (Downtown Express, by Ronda Kaysen, May 12 – 18, 2006)
  • Res No. 187-A … Resolution calling upon the United States Environmental Protection Agency to abandon its technically and scientifically flawed 2005 Test and Clean Program, and work with the residents and workers, community and labor organizations and elected officials to design and implement an effective, science-based sampling and cleanup program for residences and workplaces in all affected areas. … By Council Members Gerson, Barron, Brewer, Fidler, Gennaro, James, Recchia Jr., Sanders Jr. and Liu (passed May 10, 2006)
  • ‘A completely unacceptable situation’ … Protesters shouted, “What do we want? Cleanup! When do we want it? Now!” in front of the headquarters of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation Monday. … “It is beyond comprehension and an absolute failure of the public authorities charged with taking it down that so little progress has been made since September 11th. And whatever progress has been made is marred by unnecessary secrecy, bad judgment, and incomplete disclosure of crucial information to the public and to regulatory agencies. Unfortunately, demolition of this building has been and continues to be plagued with poor planning, questionable contracting practices, dangerous work conditions, and apparently shoddy performance by the prime contractor and its subs.” Nadler and others have heavily criticized LMDC’s demolition plan and choice of demolition contractors since the company bought the building in August of 2004. The groups argue that LMDC has not taken into account public comments on the demolition and is trying to alter demolition plans without approval from the correct agencies. … Yesterday, Joel Kupferman, a environmental lawyer representing a group of residents, delivered an “intent to sue letter” to the LMDC, the Empire State Development Corporation and the Port Authority for their “handling, storage, transportation and disposal of the solid wastes in the abatement and deconstruction of 130 Liberty Street, which may present an imminent and substantial endangerment to health or the environment.” … (Disaster News Network, by Heather Moyer, May 9, 2006)
  • The Air down There: Deutsche Bank Demolition Sparks Fears about the Quality of Subway Air … LOWER MANHATTAN Environmental lawyer Joel Kupferman pointed up at the Deutsche Bank building, but what troubled him last week ran underground. The 1 train rolls through the World Trade Center site, Kupferman noted, and 20 feet behind the heavily contaminated office tower are two ventilation plants with industrial-strength fans meant to push air into the tunnel in case of a fire or other emergency. On the street, open grating offered a straight shot into the 1 and nearby R and W lines. “The takedown of this building poses imminent and substantial danger,” said Kupferman, who’s worried that no steps are being taken to protect subway riders. In the aftermath of 9/11, federal, state and city agencies monitored the air outdoors for harmful chemicals, but no mention was ever made about the air in the subway. The Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center continues to test air outside but not air in the subway. Annual asbestos tests are performed in “randomly selected high-density stations,” said NYC Transit spokesman Paul Fleuranges, but no measurements were available for Downtown. The last test occurred in July 2005. … (Metro New York, by Patrick Arden, May 9, 2006)
  • ‘Toxic Tower’ Fears: Downtown Residents, Workers Say Contractor Unfit for Deutsche Bank Project … “We know the deal all too well: That building has the same dust that gave us asthma and nosebleeds after the [Twin Towers] fell,” said Mary Perillo, a resident of 125 Cedar St., which is across from the shrouded building. “We don’t want to go through that again.” … “The LMDC is supposed to be a watchdog agency, but who is watching them?” Perillo asked. “They talk a good game, but it’s all PR. You really need the EPA to oversee this.” Residents want the LMDC to provide an emergency plan for the community and re-establish the public process for addressing their concerns. So far, the project has been plagued with problems…. (Metro New York, by Amy Zimmer, May 9, 2006)
  • 9/11 vols turn victims … The Rev. Stephen Petrovich spent 11 days at the Ground Zero’s makeshift morgue administering last rites to people and parts of people. Now he is ill and fears, because of the toxic dust he inhaled and swallowed while doing his duty, it may not be too long before someone must read those rites to him. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, I really don’t know,” he said, speaking from his home in Huron, Ohio, where he lives on a meager monthly disability payment after he became too ill to keep working. Petrovich said the effects from breathing problems and the precancerous tumor removed with part of his tongue have left him exhausted, depressed and often unable to go out. He needs more than $1,000 worth of medications a month, earns about $900 from Social Security disability and can’t afford a car to go to doctor appointments. “Sometimes I can’t go out for days,” he said. “I cough all the time – it’s like a chronic, deep bronchitis.” … For sick New Yorkers, there are places to turn for help. But for volunteers from far and wide, there is very little and few doctors are even equipped to recognize the symptoms from those who sacrificed their health in the debris of the World Trade Center. … One of those deeply frustrated is Joe Picurro, a 39-year-old iron worker from Toms River, N.J., who said he volunteered for 28 days at Ground Zero, removing twisted metal to get at human remains. When he started having fits of vomiting and severe chest congestion during the summer of 2004, doctors thought he had a bad case of the flu. It took numerous visits to different doctors before he finally learned about the scarring and particles in his lungs. …(New York Daily News, by Michael McAuliff, May 7, 2006)
  • Lawyers ‘Clean Up’ on WTC Insurer … The insurance company created with federal funds to cover the city and its contractors for claims from the World Trade Center cleanup has spent $30 million on overhead – including more than $20 million on lawyers, The Post has learned. Records show the WTC Captive Insurance Co., a nonprofit that manages $1 billion approved by Congress, has not paid any claims by 9/11 recovery workers. Both the insurance company and the city declined to discuss how many lawyers were hired, at what hourly rate, and what work they have billed for the $20 million in fees. Kekst and Company, a public-relations firm hired by the insurance company, called the litigation to fight more than 5,300 illness and injury claims filed by 9/11 workers “costly and time-consuming.” … Sources said the lawyers have helped write a motion to dismiss all recovery-worker claims on the grounds the city was responding to a civil emergency. Lawyers in such cases typically earn $350 to $850 per hour, the sources said. … (NYPost, by Susan Edelman, May 7, 2006)
  • Two Big Demolitions Raise Air Concerns … In a neighborhood once coated with dust and toxins from the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, any threat—real or imagined—of more dust-tainted air is enough to raise alarm. So red flags went up last month at two locations near Ground Zero, 130 Liberty Street and 189 Broadway, where the pending demolition of buildings has environmental regulators and neighbors nervous. … Demolition plans for the shrouded former Deutsche Bank building on Liberty Street, which was severely damaged by the collapse of the trade center towers, raised concerns among government regulators last month, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency requested more details about how contractors plan to dismantle the structure and crush and cart off demolition debris. Workers have begun cleaning the interior and they are scheduled to begin dismantling the building in June. … The apparent confusion between the agencies prompted Community Board 1 to draft and adopt an “emergency” resolution during its public meeting last month. The community board called on the EPA to take a more active role overseeing the building’s demolition and requested that the LMDC revise its plan in accordance with the environmental agency’s recommendations. “There has to be more oversight and accountability on the part of the LMDC,” Julie Menin, chairwoman of CB1, told the Trib. “They don’t have experience in environmental matters.” A block away, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority last month halted demolition work at 189 Broadway, which was emptied of tenants in December to make way for the Fulton Street Transit Center, until the EPA could appraise the plan. A CB1 member who lives in the area alerted regulators about the demolition work, which was begun without an environmental review. “We shouldn’t have to rely on a neighborhood watch system,” Congressman Jerrold Nadler said in a statement. … The Tribeca Trib, by Barry Owens, May 3, 2006)
  • Deutsche Bank Cleanup Halted … The rooftop cleanup at the former Deutsche Bank building opposite ground zero has been suspended by the federal Environmental Protection Agency until regulators meet with the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which is overseeing demolition of the heavily contaminated tower. On March 31 and April 19, inspectors found ”visible debris and residual fines commingled with the roof ballast” in areas that were supposedly clean, said Pat Evangelista, the agency’s World Trade Center coordinator, in an April 27 letter to the corporation. (Fines are tiny particles.) The corporation said it voluntarily stopped the cleanup on April 20 after a ”fragment of asbestos-containing material” was discovered in the ballast during the search for human remains from 9/11. The corporation’s spokesman, John P. Gallagher, said that the finding should not pose a health risk to workers. (New York Times, by David W. Dunlap, May 2, 2006 )
  • S.I. Beep: 9/11 Ills May Have Killed My Son … Stephen Molinaro had his blood tested for 9/11-related illnesses just before he died suddenly last week, his father revealed yesterday at his funeral. “I was the only one who knew – his family never knew,” Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro said while delivering an emotional eulogy at his 40-year-old son’s funeral at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church. Molinaro said his son, who was found dead in his kitchen early Saturday morning, had done some construction work near Ground Zero after the World Trade Center attacks. It’s unclear whether he had been sick and results of an autopsy are pending. (New York Post, by Stephanie Gaskell, May 2, 2006)

APRIL

  • A grave oversight … While the search was suspended last week when asbestos was discovered on the roof, officials at the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. say they expect that more fragments will be found when they eventually take apart the structure’s air ducts and cooling towers. …(Daily News, by Greg B. Smith, April 30, 2006)
  • FDNY Doc May Testify in Cop’s Post-9/11 Death … The Fire Department’s top doctor is being dragged into court to help the case of an NYPD cop whose widow says he died of illnesses tied to his work at Ground Zero, the Daily News has learned. The order to appear in Manhattan Supreme Court could put Dr. Kerry Kelly, the FDNY’s chief medical officer, in the unusual position of testifying in an NYPD case. Kelly is being called because she appeared before Congress in February and declared that 20 city firefighters had contracted sarcoidosis – a mysterious autoimmune disease – as a likely result of their participation in the World Trade Center cleanup. … Because the Fire Department has acknowledged that sarcoidosis is linked to the noxious fumes that were swirling around Ground Zero, Michelle Godbee’s attorney is pushing to gain access to the FDNY’s medical records to bolster her legal challenge against the NYPD. … His joints became stiff and his breathing began to labor. … A city medical examiner ruled that the heart attack was caused by sarcoidosis, a disease marked by inflammation of the lungs and other organs and believed to be caused by environmental factors. … (NY Daily News, by Rich Schapiro, April 30, 2006)
  • 9/11 Health Chief Vows Death Probe … New 9/11 federal health czar John Howard came to New York yesterday and vowed to investigate deaths that might be linked to exposure to Ground Zero. He also called “very worrisome” the claim that thousands of people have fallen ill from toxic air from the crumbled World Trade Center. Asked if he expected many more such claims, he said, “Yes, I assume.” … (New York Post, By Carl Campanile, April 29, 2006)
  • Official: Too early to tell 9/11 health effects … The federal government’s new Sept. 11 health coordinator said Friday that it’s too early to say for sure whether anyone will die from illnesses stemming from their exposure at or near the World Trade Center site after the terrorist attacks in 2001. “I don’t think I can make those predictions,” Dr. John Howard said at a news conference at the Vanderbilt YMCA in midtown Manhattan. Pressed again for an answer, Howard said, “Yes, I would assume” that many people who lived or worked in lower Manhattan on and after Sept. 11, 2001, could die because of Ground Zero-related ailments. Howard also said that anyone using a “common-sense kind of science” would say, “Well, gee, we have a lot of people here in New York who were entirely healthy before 9/11 and now they’re not.” Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt in February appointed Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, to be the health coordinator. … Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Vito Fossella and Jerrold Nadler and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton attended the briefing. Howard told them he will work to ensure that $75 million earmarked for current health programs that monitor Sept. 11 health effects is distributed by September. “There were many promises made from our government that we will never forget,” Maloney said. “Well, today, we are making sure that that promise is kept — that all of the people that responded, all of them that were exposed to dangerous toxins are monitored and that they get the health care that they deserve.” (NYNewdsay, by Herbert Lowe, April 29, 2006)
  • Anecdotal Findings Suggest 9/11 Dust Can Cause Illness … A doctor overseeing a federal effort to determine the health impact of exposure to ground zero dust said anecdotal evidence suggested that breathing in the smoke and ash that hung over the area after the towers’ collapse could lead to illness. But he stopped short of coming to any firm conclusion, and said that a rigorous scientific study would be required. Dr. John Howard, the director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, made the comments at a news conference yesterday with members of New York’s Congressional delegation. He cited the deaths of three rescue workers whose health declined after working at ground zero and reports of illness from thousands of people who were in Lower Manhattan during and after the attack as indications that the debris and fumes from the trade center might have been harmful. “Sometimes it takes us in science years,” he said, “in terms of making absolutely definitive connections of a causal nature between exposure and health effect.” But, he added, “Common sense would say, gee, we have a lot of people here in New York who were entirely healthy before 9/11 and now they’re not, and that’s common sense type of science, if you will.” Dr. Howard is gathering extensive data — from health providers, various agencies and others — to see whether the air at ground zero caused health problems. It is important “to ensure scientific reporting in the peer review literature,” he said. …. “Our goal is simple, that everyone who was exposed to the toxins at 9/11 be monitored and that everyone that is sick be treated,” Representative Maloney said yesterday. Dr. Howard acknowledged that not everyone exposed to the dust from ground zero would be monitored and treated under the program. Those who were working or living in Lower Manhattan, but were not rescue, recovery or clean-up workers, have not been assessed. He said if research indicated that the toxic dust that surrounded ground zero was making people ill, then others who were exposed might seek treatment. (NYTimes, by Toni Whitt, April 29, 2006)
  • 9/11 health czar gives poor prognosis … The federal government’s new Sept. 11 health coordinator said Friday that it’s too early to say for sure whether anyone will die from illnesses stemming from their exposure at or near the World Trade Center site after the terrorist attacks in 2001. … (Newsday, by Herbert Lowe, April 29, 2006)
  • 9/11 Survivors Dying from 9/11 … (Stony Brook Independent,by Laura Positano, April 29, 2006)
  • Downtown Is Bracing for the Chaos Of Construction at Ground Zero … in the third-largest business district in the country … peak of construction will not arrive for about two more years, in 2008. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat who represents Lower Manhattan, said he wants construction done in a way that would minimize potential negative health effects to residents. “There is a lot of contamination left over from 9/11. Demolition and construction could put a lot of that in the air,” Mr. Nadler said. “A nuisance is a nuisance, that’s bad enough. But environmental carelessness can kill people,” he continued.Mr. Nadler said that initial environmental planning, including the 2,000-page environmental report prepared by the city and state in 2004, was not adequate. But he said environmental controls are “moving in the right direction.” …(New York Sun, By David Lombino, April 28, 2006)
  • Roof Cleanup and Other Activities at 130 Liberty Street, New York City … This is to confirm that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) has agreed, at your request, to postpone the meeting of April 27, 2006 with the New York State Department of Labor (“NYSDOL”), New York City Department of Environmental Protection (“NYCDEP”), EPA and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (“LMDC”) which had been scheduled to discuss issues relating to improper cleaning of the roof at 130 Liberty Street. At this time, we have not been able to reschedule with the other members of the regulatory team, and we will inform you promptly when we determine their availability. Pending the meeting, work on the roof should not resume. We believe that the agenda for our rescheduled meeting about roof cleaning issues should also address how best to ensure implementation of September 2005 accepted cleaning protocols for the deconstruction of the building. For your purposes in coordinating LMDC’s presentation at the meeting, when scheduled, EPA, NYSDOL and NYCDEP would appreciate a full explanation of the roof “cleaning” from the commencement to the present with specific reference to what procedures were followed to clean and what clearance standards were utilized. With regard to the asbestos-containing material found in the roof ballast, the regulators would like an explanation of the basis for LMDC’s statement that “TRC has assured us the isolated findings did not pose any health risk to workers on the roof.” (EPA letter to LMDC, April 28, 2006)
  • Congressional Leaders Cheer 9/11 Health Official’s Visit to NYC … Several New York lawmakers hailed the arrival of the government’s point man on 9/11 health programs Friday, saying he is the right person to finally help determine the lingering effects of the 2001 terror attacks on emergency workers, lower Manhattan residents and others who were exposed to smoke and debris at ground zero. Dr. John Howard, who was tapped by the Bush administration in February to coordinate the federal response to ongoing Sept. 11 health problems, met with reporters following a meeting with three House members from New York City, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and a contingent of community and labor leaders. … (AP, By Frank Eltman, April 28, 2006)
  • 9/11 Health Coordinator Comes To New York … Two weeks after the death of a former NYPD detective was linked to his work at the World Trade Center site, the federal government’s new 9/11 health coordinator arrived in New York Friday. Doctor John Howard met with local lawmakers and community leaders in Manhattan to discuss the goals and challenges of the work ahead. His position was created in the Department of Health and Human Services to monitor the health impacts of September 11th. Dr. Howard says he not only wants to track the health problems of emergency first responders, but also those of non-responders, such as volunteers and residents. “We can look at what happened at this disaster at a national level and not repeat some of these terrific problems that we’re experiencing now five years after the fact,” said Dr. Howard “Dr. Howard gives us a chance for having the rational basis from which to make better decisions going forward so we will never again have our government say, ‘Oh the air is fine!” added Senator Hillary Clinton. … (NY1, April 28, 2006)
  • The Council of the City of New York: Report of the Invrastructure Division, Committee on Lower Manhattan Redevelopment: Proposed res. No. 187-A … Resolution calling upon the United States Environmental Protection Agency to abandon its technically and scientifically flawed 2005 Test and Clean Program, and work with the residents and workers, community and labor organizations and elected officials to design and implement an effective, science-based sampling and cleanup program for residences and workplaces in all affected areas…. (April 28, 2006)
  • Letter from EPA to LMDC: Roof Cleanup and Other Activities at 130 Liberty Street, New York City … This is to confirm that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) has agreed, at your request, to postpone the meeting of April 27, 2006 with the New York State Department of Labor (“NYSDOL”), New York City Department of Environmental Protection (“NYCDEP”), EPA and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (“LMDC”) which had been scheduled to discuss issues relating to improper cleaning of the roof at 130 Liberty Street. At this time, we have not been able to reschedule with the other members of the regulatory team, and we will inform you promptly when we determine their availability. Pending the meeting, work on the roof should not resume. We believe that the agenda for our rescheduled meeting about roof cleaning issues should also address how best to ensure implementation of September 2005 acccepted cleaning protocols for the deconstruction of the building. For your purposes in coordinating LMDC’s presentation at the meeting, when scheduled, EPA, NYSDOL and NYCDEP would appreciate a full explanation of the roof “cleaning” from the commencement to the present with specific reference to what procedures were followed to clean and what clearance standards were utilized. With regard to the asbestos-containing material found in the roof ballast, the regulators would like an explanation of the basis for LMDC’s statement that “TRC has assured us the isolated findings did not pose any health risk to workers on the roof.” … On March 31, 2006, EPA inspected the roof and pointed out areas of the roof that purportedly had been cleaned requiring cleaning. Subsequently, on April 19, 2006, EPA again inspected these areas and informed representatives of LMDC that these areas were still not in fact clean. From the regulators’ inspections of the roof, areas of the roof that LMDC representatives claimed were cleaned according to the NYCDEP protocol appeared to be improperly cleaned with visible debris and residual fines commingled with the roof ballast. In addition, EPA was recently informed by LMDC representatives that the entire lower roof has not yet been cleaned. …(April 28, 2006)
  • How Many New Yorkers’ Will Have Long Term Health Problems From 9/11? … (Video Library/WCB-TVNY, April 28, 2006)
  • Towering Controversy: Continuing Debate Points out Difficulty of Removing a Skyscaper Surrounded by Human Habitation … At its most recent monthly meeting, Community Board 1 passed an emergency resolution adding yet another voice to those opposing the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s demolition plans for 130 Liberty Street, the former Deutsche Bank building irreparably damaged and contaminated on Sept. 11, 2001. At issue are the qualifications of the John Galt Corporation and the safety record of Safeway Environmental Corporation, two companies hired to raze the blighted building, as well as certain changes in plans not authorized by the Environmental Protection Agency. Additionally, residents and environmental activists attending the meeting expressed alarm over what they said is insufficient emergency planning. … (BPC Broadsheet, by Serena Hedison, Apr 28- May 13, 2006)
  • Asbestos stunner halts bldg. cleanup … Cleanup of the toxic Deutsche Bank tower near Ground Zero has been halted after asbestos was found in areas the state said had already been cleaned, the Daily News has learned. Officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency discovered that workers performing cleanup and searching for human remains at the 130 Liberty St. site have been working without respiratory equipment for weeks, and will not be allowed back to work until they’re properly outfitted and trained. The federal EPA, joined by the city environmental agency and the state Labor Department, inspected the site last Thursday and found that supposedly cleansed areas on the roof of the 40-story building still contained undetermined amounts of asbestos-laden dust. “We expressed very strong concerns,” said the EPA’s Mary Mears. “As a result, work was stopped. We’re going to make sure they do it properly before they start it up again.” The $52 million decontamination and demolition of the Deutsche Bank building, being overseen by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., has been beset with problems. …. In a statement, the LMDC said that while it was “eager to resume the search for potential human remains on the rooftop, that search will be suspended until the review of the enhanced roof-cleaning protocols are completed. Other cleanup work at 130 Liberty St. is continuing.” The building sits at the edge of Ground Zero, a 14-story gash torn into its front from when the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed on 9/11. The building is filled with poisonous dust. LMDC officials said that the consultant hired to monitor the cleanup “assured us the isolated findings did not pose any health risk to workers on the roof.” The agency contended that the amount of asbestos found was minimal. In the last few weeks, the EPA also has raised concerns about the method of demolition the state had proposed to bring down the building. That method still had not been approved. The News reported last week that two executives of the firm running the cleanup previously worked at a firm under investigation for mob ties and serious safety violations. The firm, John Galt Co., has no previous experience bringing down contaminated skyscrapers. As part of its ongoing crackdown, the EPA has ordered the LMDC to equip workers at 130 Liberty St. with proper respiratory equipment to prevent exposure to asbestos. “Our major concern is not just to protect the surrounding area,” said Mears, “but to protect the workers doing the cleanup and the workers doing the investigative work.” … (NYDaily News, by Greg B. Smith, April 27, 2006)
  • Asbestos delays remains search on building roof near WTC … The search for human remains on the roof of the former Deutsche Bank building near the World Trade Center site has been suspended after asbestos was discovered there last week, officials said Thursday. Mary Mears, a spokeswoman for the federal Environmental Protection Agency, said a visual inspection of the building’s roof by her agency, the city Department of Environmental Protection and the state Department of Labor found that the area was “not properly cleaned. It seemed that material that was left in the area could potentially contain asbestos. … We raised concerns” with the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. Mears said the LMDC did its own sampling and discovered that the dust particles did, in fact, contain asbestos. She said the EPA and LMDC were working out a recleaning plan so “that it’s done properly” and to make sure “workers have proper respiratory protection.” John Gallagher, a spokesman for the LMDC, which owns the building and is paying to tear it down, said that other work at the site would continue. … (Staten Island Advance/AP, April 27, 2006)
  • Nadler Blasts Rail Link; Says Downtowners Are Being ‘Poisoned’ … Nadler called for the Environmental Protection Agency to oversee any buildings that are being demolished Downtown, even those that have been in use in the years since the World Trade Center disaster. “Lower Manhattan has never been properly cleaned,” Nadler said, adding, “By not cleaning it up now, we’re committing slow motion murder.” … Last week, Nadler hailed the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s decision to delay demolition of 189 Broadway, a two-story building a block away from the World Trade Center that was slated to be demolished to make way for a new Fulton Street Transit Center. The previous owner had cleaned the building and the exterior was cleaned by the city. Unlike other buildings overseen by the E.P.A., which have stood empty and visibly scarred since 9/11, 189 Broadway was occupied by several small businesses until December, when the M.T.A. evicted the tenants to make way for the subway hub. Even a well-used building poses a risk to public health if it is demolished, according to Nadler. “Right now you have to assume that anything near ground zero is contaminated.” Now, the E.P.A. will oversee the building’s demolition, something Nadler hopes to see repeated. “189 [Broadway] may be a model. All demolition on that sight should be done properly so as not to further endanger people,” he said. “If we have to delay it a couple of months till they get it right, okay.” Downtown residents and activists have long criticized the E.P.A. since 9/11. In the days and weeks after the disaster, the agency misled the public about air quality Downtown, encouraging workers and residents to return to the neighborhood. The agency’s residential cleanup program in 2002 and 2003 was criticized as ineffective and a repeat cleanup program unveiled last year was dismissed as unsound by a scientific review panel. Nevertheless, the agency has regained some support in the community in recent months. “They’re doing a better job,” Nadler said. “Because they did such a poor job initially, they are now much more attuned to Lower Manhattan’s needs,” said Community Board 1 chairperson Julie Menin. “They are finally paying the serious attention that they should to these serious concerns.” The E.P.A. has taken steps to oversee the M.T.A.’s demolition plans for 189 Broadway. “We are trying to get information to determine more about these buildings,” E.P.A. spokesperson Bonne Bellow said about the M.T.A.-owned buildings facing demolition. “Were they impacted? Were they cleaned? ” The bottom line is that any building that was impacted and is coming down needs to be taken down in a way that protects people’s health and is taken down safely.” Nadler, whose district includes Lower Manhattan, much of Manhattan’s West Side and parts of Brooklyn, said his fellow Democrats have a “good shot” at winning back control of the House in November, and if so, he plans to hold hearings to take a closer look at the environmental response to 9/11. … (Downtown Express, by Ronda Kaysen & Josh Rogers, April 28 – May 4, 2006)
  • Pulmonary Function after Exposure to the World Trade Center in the New York City Fire Department … A total of 62.4% of survivors of collapsed or damaged buildings were caught in the dust and debris cloud that resulted from the collapse of the WTC towers, …. More than half (56.6%) of survivors reported experiencing new or worsening respiratory symptoms after the attacks, 23.9% had heartburn/reflux, and 21.0% had severe headaches. … Public Health Action Recommended: Long-term follow-up of building survivors and all other persons enrolled in WTCHR should be maintained, with particular attention to those persons exposed to the dust cloud. Some of these findings might lead to building designs that can minimize injury hazards. (American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine, by Gisela I. Banauch1, MD MS, Charles Hall2, PhD, Michael Weiden3,4, MD, Hillel W. Cohen2 DrPH, Thomas K. Aldrich1, MD, Vasillios Christodoulou1, Nicole Arcentales3, BS, Kerry J. Kelly3, MD, and David J. Prezant1,3, MD, doi:10.1164/rccm.200511-1736OC, April 27, 2006. Copyright (C) 2006 by the American Thoracic Society)
  • Asbestos stunner halts bldg. cleanup: Work on Deutsche Bank building has been stopped due to asbestos dust … Cleanup of the toxic Deutsche Bank tower near Ground Zero has been halted after asbestos was found in areas the state said had already been cleaned, the Daily News has learned. Officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency discovered that workers performing cleanup and searching for human remains at the 130 Liberty St. site have been working without respiratory equipment for weeks, and will not be allowed back to work until they’re properly outfitted and trained. The federal EPA, joined by the city environmental agency and the state Labor Department, inspected the site last Thursday and found that supposedly cleansed areas on the roof of the 40-story building still contained undetermined amounts of asbestos-laden dust. “We expressed very strong concerns,” said the EPA’s Mary Mears. “As a result, work was stopped. We’re going to make sure they do it properly before they start it up again.” The $52 million decontamination and demolition of the Deutsche Bank building, being overseen by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., has been beset with problems. … (NYDailyNews, by Greg B. Smith, April 27, 2006)
  • More E.P.A. concerns, more demolition delays … Gov. Pataki said last year that demolition of Fiterman Hall would begin last October, but officials now think the work won’t begin until this fall at the earliest. Below, is a rendering of what the new building will look like. … Environmental concerns have delayed the demolition of three buildings near the World Trade Center site, evoking fears among local residents that their neighborhood is still contaminated. This week, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority halted the demolition of 189 Broadway, a two-story building that is being dismantled to make way for the new Fulton Street Transit Hub, after local residents and political leaders voiced doubts about the demolition process. Two weeks ago, the Environmental Protection Agency failed to approve a demolition plan for Fiterman Hall, a 9/11 contaminated building at 30 West Broadway. And the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. is in the midst of regulatory and public relations snafus about the Deutsche Bank building, a 40-story tower overlooking the Trade Center site at 130 Liberty St. “We’ve become the new victims of 9/11” said John Fratta, a Community Board 1 member at a public meeting this week, referring to growing concerns about lingering contamination Downtown. “Down the road, it’s going to come out that we were all the victims of 9/11.” … Residents have long worried that the buildings surrounding the Trade Center site might still be contaminated with harmful Trade Center dust that contains mercury, lead, asbestos and a host of other toxins. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report this month pointing to respiratory ailments that affect 9/11 survivors. And last week, a New Jersey coroner declared that N.Y.P.D. detective James Zadroga’s death was caused by his exposure to toxic dust at ground zero. So when a Broadway resident noticed what appeared to be an unsafe demolition process at 189 Broadway, she immediately reached out to regulators, setting off a chain of events that ended with the M.T.A. stopping work on the building. …. (Downtown Express, by Ronda, April 21 – 27, 2006)
  • Government failure jeopardizes Downtown’s future … In 2002 we published an ominous picture of the Deutsche Bank building on the cover, with what seemed to us like a nightmare caption – that officials were warning the demolition of the building would take two years even if the work could begin right away. In 2006, that nightmare now sounds like a fantasy. “Shrouded,” “haunting,” “draped coffin” — those are some of the words we and many others have used over the past four and a half years to describe the damaged building across the street from the World Trade Center site. The same words could describe Fiterman Hall, which plagues the north side of the site. These buildings attack the psyches of the hundreds of thousands of people who live or work nearby and we are outraged that the planned demolitions have been delayed again. Unlike the complicated Larry Silverstein-Port Authority impasse over the W.T.C. office redevelopment, there is widespread agreement as to the overall goal of the demolition projects, but an inability to carry out the plans. The Environmental Protection Agency has raised safety concerns on both demolitions and regardless of whether or not the E.P.A. is doing good work by protecting us from a health hazard, or is just being obstructionist after taking its share of justified hits from Downtowners for their irresponsible response after 9/11 – either way, the delays represent colossal government failures. The E.P.A. must err on the side of caution and we are not going to criticize them now for speaking up. If the agency’s red flags are justified, then the governmental failure is with Gov. Pataki, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., the State Dormitory Authority and others for not resolving the insurance disputes quicker and not coming up with safe demolition plans sooner. …. Demolition of a small building on the site of the Fulton Transit Center under construction also has been delayed after the E.P.A. responded to a local resident who noticed what looked to be unsafe work commencing. This train center is an important piece to insuring Downtown’s economic recovery but a speedy construction schedule can’t be accomplished if it’s done at the expense of safety. The alphabet-laden group of federal, state and city agencies involved in Lower Manhattan has done too much finger-pointing and not enough coordinating. In this period of construction Downtowners need reason to stay hopeful and that will only come if we are assured — and we can see — that the work is being done quickly and safely. (Editorial/Downtown Express, April 21 – 27, 2006)
  • Suits over 9/11 illness … Nine New York City firefighters sued the city and its fire pension fund yesterday saying they were denied disability pensions even after the department told them their breathing disorders sustained at Ground Zero had left them unfit to serve. “I was down there that day,” said firefighter Robert Ryan, 47, of Levittown, referring to Sept. 11, 2001. After 22 years of working as a firefighter in Harlem, Ryan said he was recently diagnosed with asthma and limited to light duty. Instead, he decided to retire two weeks ago at a regular pension rate representing one-half of his yearly pay. Disability pensions pay at a rate representing three-quarters of pay…. (Newsday, by Samuel Bruchey, April 26, 2006)
  • Local Woman’s ‘Trade Center Cough’ in National Spotlight … Although the graphic on the “Nightline” report identified Wolff as a “First Responder,” she actually was a Red Cross volunteer when she went to New York City from Oct. 24 to Nov. 15, 2001, to help victims in the weeks after the attacks. Although she wasn’t sifting through rubble at Ground Zero, she was close enough to breathe in enough contaminants to cause a case of what’s become known as “Trade Center cough.” Other sources in the “Nightline” report bemoaned the lack of federal support for treatment of people who suffered health effects from the aftermath of Sept. 11, but at least the ones who live in New York are getting some medical and financial help. Compared to them, Wolff is in a much more difficult position. She can get her treatment expenses paid for if she goes to New York for treatment. She has gone a number of times, thanks to Angel Flight, a program that provides free flights on private airplanes, with several pilots pitching in to take a person with health problems part of the way to the destination. … (LaCrosse (Wisconsin) Tribune, by Randy Erickson, April 24, 2006)
  • WTC Site Cleanup a Safety ‘Disaster’ … Worker-safety rules were routinely violated at Ground Zero in the aftermath of 9/11, and city officials were frustrated by the failure to enforce them, newly revealed records show. Internal letters, e-mails and meeting notes suggest the city’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC), in charge of the WTC cleanup, was confronted by ongoing safety lapses. “The overwhelming consensus of many parties . . . is that the safety job is not getting done,” says a Feb. 13, 2002, memo by Bob Adams, the DDC’s director of environmental health and safety. Amid an around-the-clock rush to get rid of the rubble, the memo cites a discussion that described “lack of commitment by senior project management to address safety concerns in a timely manner,” adding that safety is “only addressed when convenient for the schedule of the project.” … (New York Post, by Susan Edelman, April 23, 2006)
  • Public Concern over 9/11-Related Health Effects Grow; 130 Liberty Street Demolition Stuck in Neutral … (NYCOSH Update on safety and Health. Vol. IX, No. 2, April 20, 2006)
  • Outcry builds over bank-cleanup firm … Outraged residents of lower Manhattan joined local leaders in demanding yesterday that the agency in charge of rebuilding Ground Zero cut ties with the company chosen to demolish the highly toxic Deutsche Bank building. Speakers at a Community Board 1 meeting charged that the John Galt Co., the firm hired by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. to preform the job, received its asbestos abatement license as recently as last month and is not up tothe job. The community board also unanimously approved an emergency resolution calling on the LMDC “to quickly revise all demolition plans” and employ a more competent company. The complaints came after the Daily News reported on Sunday that two top executives involved in the demolition project have links to the mob. Those revelations followed the injury of two workers at the site and an Environmental Protection Agency warning that current plans for the site are unacceptable. “It’s almost unbelievable,” Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said of hiring John Galt Co. “They should suspend this company immediately.” Stephen Chasin, owner of Safeway, the firm recruited by John Galt to oversee the demolition, has said that there is no asbestos dust in the shrouded tower at 130 Liberty St. … (NYDaily, by Oren Yaniv, April 19, 2006)
  • Building takedown held for environmental inquiry … A commercial building a block from Ground Zero that was blanketed by dust after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 and was slated to be dismantled will be scrutinized for deadly toxins, officials said Tuesday. The two-story building at 189 Broadway has been empty since December, when its new landlord, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, evicted a handful of commercial tenants to make way for a sprawling $785-million transit hub at Fulton Street and Broadway. Those plans were shelved after neighborhood activists noticed what appeared to be preliminary construction work several weeks ago and worried that trade center dust might be seeping into the air. “The truth is that 189 Broadway would be coming down right now if it weren’t for vigilant residents,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler said. “While the MTA is right to freeze demolition, we shouldn’t have to rely on a neighborhood watch system.” Nadler (D-Manhattan-Brooklyn) criticized the federal Environmental Protection Agency for less than stringent oversight of razings near Ground Zero. He said the transit agency told him a new plan for taking down the building would be announced next month. … Several residents told Newsday they saw workers putting plastic tarpaulins on the 189 Broadway building and bringing in heavy machinery. MTA spokesman Tim O’Brien said Tuesday that no work had begun to dismantle 189 Broadway. O’Brien said the agency “does not have a schedule” for taking down the building because it is “still talking with all of the experts.” O’Brien confirmed that MTA officials had met with Nadler and residents. He said the building was cleaned for trade center dust twice before, once by its previous owner and once in conjunction with the EPA. An EPA spokeswoman said the agency never cleaned 189 Broadway but noted that the city Department of Environmental Protection did clean its exterior. EPA regional administrator Alan Steinberg said the agency received a complaint from a resident and he subsequently got a commitment from the MTA that the dismantling work “would be done right.” (Newsday, by Luis Perez, April 19, 2006)
  • Nadler Applauds MTA Decision to Halt Demolition Work at 189 Broadway: Transit officials realize environmental risk of demolishing contaminated building; put safety first … Congressman Jerrold Nadler today applauded the MTA’s decision to freeze demolition work on 189 Broadway, a building slated to be taken down as construction of the Fulton Street Transit Center progresses. Steps from Ground Zero, 189 Broadway was choked with toxic World Trade Center dust after the collapse of the Twin Towers. A New York Times photograph taken shortly after the attacks shows the World of Golf store at 189 Broadway frosted with dust. It is unclear what type of cleanup was undertaken in the two-story building, which housed several businesses at the time of the attacks. Demolishing 189 Broadway without taking into consideration potential WTC dust contamination could result in the release of more toxins into the Lower Manhattan air. Apprised of these concerns, MTA has agreed to delay the project until a more thorough and protective abatement plan can be reviewed by the Environmental Protection Agency and shared with residents and elected officials. “The MTA’s decision was smart and sound,” Congressman Nadler said. “In what is, sadly, an aberration from usual practice in Lower Manhattan, a major agency has decided to put residents’ and workers’ safety first. We’re all looking forward to the new Fulton Street station, but there is no excuse for sloppiness when lives could be on the line.” Congressman Nadler raised concerns about the demolition with the MTA last week, which residents noticed was going forward without a proper plan in place to prevent the dispersion of WTC dust from the building. “The truth is that 189 Broadway would be coming down right now if it weren’t for vigilant residents,” Congressman Nadler said. “While the MTA is right to freeze demolition, we shouldn’t have to rely on a neighborhood watch system. The city and state need to realize that these buildings still contain toxic dust – and that they need to be approached with great care.” … The interiors of homes and workplaces have never been systematically tested for or cleaned of contaminants, largely as a result of continual foot-dragging by the Environmental Protection Agency. As downtown redevelopment progresses, sloppy demolition of contaminated buildings poses a constant environmental threat. (Nadler News Release, April 18, 2006)
  • Fight for their lives… “I was shocked when they told me I had thyroid cancer,” said Hilaire, who is on limited duty at Police Service Area No. 5 in East Harlem. “There is no family history of cancer whatsoever.” Hilaire said he logged over 850 hours in The Pit and at the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island, where cops spent months sifting body parts out of the debris. He said a fellow officer warned him it could be dangerous, but he didn’t listen. … ‘My lungs are scarred. I can barely walk anymore’ Once Belinda Shaw ran like the wind. Now, the retired Queens detective needs her son to carry her to the bathroom. “I was a runner for years,” said Shaw, 50. “I have pulmonary fibrosis now. My lungs are scarred. I can barely walk anymore. “Assigned to the intelligence division, Shaw was given morgue duty at Ground Zero. “I was carrying body parts. … It’s so hard to talk about,” she said. Long runs helped clear the horrific images from her head, and when she retired in January 2005 she expected to keep running. Then, last June, she started coughing — and couldn’t stop. “It started going downhill after that,” she said. “My body started going crazy.” A high fever left her bedridden for months. Then her muscles became inflamed. “It was so painful I could not leave my bed,” she said. … “I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March 2003,” Williamson, 45, said. “I was feeling itchy and I thought I was allergic to something. I wasn’t expecting this.” When he retired in January 2002, Williamson said he began looking for a summer place for his wife and three kids. Instead, he was plunged into a war with a disease that has already claimed his pancreas, spleen, gallbladder, most of his stomach and a lung. “All my dreams are now on hold,” he said. “The chemo’s not working, so I’m on a new drug that costs $7,000 for a 50-day supply.” …(NYDaily News, by Robert F. MOore, Thmoas Zambito & Corky Siemaszko, April 16, 2006)
  • Mob link eyed in bank demolition … The top two execs overseeing the demolition of the Deutsche Bank building at Ground Zero recently ran a firm under investigation for reputed mob links and allegedly dangerous work conditions, the Daily News has learned. Until February, the two businessmen running the complex razing of 130 Liberty St. were operating Safeway Environmental Corp. – a Bronx firm under scrutiny by city investigators. One of Safeway’s owners, Stephen Chasin, confirmed in an interview with The News that his partner is Harold Greenberg, a two-time felon identified by the FBI as a Gambino associate. Safeway also has been cited by the city and feds for alleged safety violations during the demolition of an upper West Side supermarket that collapsed in July, injuring several passersby, including an infant in a stroller. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration hit Safeway with $15,000 in fines after finding five safety violations termed “serious,” records show. Safeway is contesting the fines. But two of its former honchos are now working for John Galt Co., the firm hired by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. to take down the Deutsche Bank building at Ground Zero. With no experience demolishing skyscrapers, Galt recruited Safeway President Mitch Alvo and Vice President Don Adler to oversee the massive project. The LMDC has banned Chasin and Greenberg from being involved in the demolition – but the agency has not objected to Alvo and Adler being on site. The agency also is allowing the Galt firm to lease much of its equipment from Safeway, according to Chasin. … (NYDaily News, by Greg B. Smith, April 16, 2006)
  • City Socks Away $1B Amid WTC Workers’ Aid Battle … The city is locked in battle with thousands of Ground Zero workers who are demanding a piece of a $1 billion fund created to pay claims against New York City and its contractors arising from the cleanup of post-9/11 debris. More than 7,000 rescue workers, volunteers and other laborers have joined in a class-action suit, filed in September 2004, that claims they became ill toiling in the toxic ruins. They charge that the city failed to protect them, to reveal the full extent of the health risks and to enforce safety rules. They seek compensation for their illnesses, some potentially fatal, and medical monitoring for all who worked on or near the pit. But in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, city lawyers argue that New York is not liable for the workers’ medical problems. They say the city enjoys blanket immunity under New York’s Disaster Act and Defense Emergency Act, since it was responding as a municipality to a terrorist attack and disaster. The city “should be free from second-guessing” and from criticism for any mistakes found in hindsight, its lawyers state in the motion, a copy of which was obtained by The Post. The city argues “that the government’s ability to engage public and private resources to respond . . . to cataclysmic events should not be compromised by concerns about potential future litigation.” … The $1 billion in insurance was part of $21.4 billion in federal aid pledged to the city by President Bush after 9/11. … (NYPost, by Susan Edelman, April 16, 2006)
  • THE LMDC’S LATEST FIASCO … It was a week when New Yorkers re lived the 9/11 attacks in a number of ways – the trial of al Qaeda terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, the transcripts of Flight 93 and the autopsy diagnosis that NYPD Detective James Zadroga died of respiratory failure related to Ground Zero exposure. But perhaps most chilling was the discovery of nearly 400 bone fragments at the enshrouded Deutsche Bank building at 130 Liberty St. …. But the discovery was one more complication in the eternal process to actually begin Downtown reconstruction. Of course, the razing of the Deutsche Bank was already facing another obstacle – the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found the safety plan put forward by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. to be unacceptable. No surprise there. The LMDC has fouled up everything else it’s touched over the past four-plus years; why should a legally mandated EPA study be any different? Building demolition was supposed to begin earlier this month. But the EPA fears that the LMDC’s plan would release too much toxic dust into the air; that pushes the start of any teardown back to June – at the earliest.The LMDC bought the building and land two years ago, after resolving a lengthy dispute between Deutsche Bank and the insurers. You’d think, after all this time, that the agency would have made certain that all remains in the area had been recovered. … (NYPost, April 15, 2006)
  • 9/11 Health Follow-Ups … he city Health Department will soon begin a follow-up survey on the health of over 70,000 people exposed to the dust and fumes in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, officials said yesterday. Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said on WNBC/Channel 4’s News Forum that, while an initial survey was done in 2003 and 2004 for the World Trade Center health registry, additional information will be gathered for “our first follow-up survey.” Frieden said he thinks “there is evidence now that there are some individuals who were heavily exposed around 9/11, who worked on the pile and inhaled things without protective respiratory equipment, who certainly are having serious respiratory problems.” … (NYPOST, by Frankie Edozien, April 15, 2006)
  • WTC dealth-link doubt … The city’s top health official doubts that the death of NYPD Detective James Zadroga can be conclusively linked to toxins at Ground Zero – even though an autopsy found his fatal illness was “directly related” to his work at the disaster site. City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said he would be “surprised” if the cause of Zadroga’s death can be traced directly to the smoldering World Trade Center wreckage. “An autopsy can determine whether there was damage to the lungs and it can determine whether that damage might have been related to foreign bodies,” Frieden told WNBC’s “News Forum” during an interview scheduled to air tomorrow. “But whether that was related to [the World Trade Center], I don’t think that would be easy to say definitively,” he said. … “He said there was bone in the lungs and pockets that were filled with dust,” she said. …(NYDaily News, by Paul H.B. Shin, April 15, 2006)
  • New Concerns About Razing of Bank Tower at Ground Zero … Demolition plans for the former Deutsche Bank building opposite ground zero have raised fresh concerns among the regulatory agencies reviewing the project, the federal Environmental Protection Agency said this week. The 41-story bank tower, at 130 Liberty Street, was badly damaged and contaminated on Sept. 11, 2001. The agency… (NY Times, by David W. Dunlap, April 14, 2006)
  • EPA says no again to Deutsche demo plan … Demolition of the contaminated Deutsche Bank building that hovers like a draped coffin over Lower Manhattan might not begin on time, the Environmental Protection Agency warned on Tuesday. Pat Evangelista, World Trade Center coordinator for the E.P.A., sent a letter this week to the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which owns the ill-fated building, warning that the demolition cannot begin until the corporation fully explains how it plans to take the tower down. The 40-story structure at 130 Liberty St. was badly damaged on Sept. 11. Since then, it has stood as an ominous reminder of the slow pace of the redevelopment. … The demolition is scheduled to begin in June, but the E.P.A. voiced concerns about some of the techniques L.M.D.C. contractors plan to use to take the building down and requested additional details. L.M.D.C. sent a 23-page outline of its plans last week, insisting that nothing had changed since E.P.A. approved the plan in September. The E.P.A. disagreed. And in an April 1l letter the agency insisted that many details had changed. “E.P.A. and its regulatory partners have not been provided with sufficient details about these proposed engineering changes,” Evangelista wrote, adding that the agency disagrees with the L.M.D.C. that the plans were authorized in September. The E.P.A. has several concerns about the current plan, including the use of a concrete crusher at the site. “It is not clear to the regulators why L.M.D.C. did not provide information to the regulators about the use of concrete crushing equipment long before L.M.D.C.’s anticipated schedule,” Evangelista wrote. Other problems with the plan include the water sampling and waste management plan, using exterior chutes for disposing of debris and the use of a “floating roof,” which the agency said “is new information to the regulators, contrary to L.M.D.C.’s assertion.” … (Downtown Express, by Ronda Kaysen, April 14-20, 2006)
  • Debate Revives as 9/11 Dust Is Called Fatal … In the cold, clinical language of the autopsy report of a retired New York City detective that was released this week, there were words that thousands of New Yorkers have come to anticipate and to fear. “It is felt with a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the cause of death in this case was directly related to the 9/11 incident,” stated the report from the medical examiner’s office in Ocean County, N.J. That “reasonable degree of medical certainty” — coroner language for “as sure as I can be” — provides the first official link made by a medical expert between the hazardous air at ground zero after the trade center collapse and the death of someone who worked in the rescue effort. The report has reopened old wounds, giving lawsuits brought by first responders and downtown residents new evidence to back up allegations that the toxic mixture of dust and fumes at ground zero was deadly. The report has also reignited a fierce debate over whether to classify deaths like that of Detective James Zadroga, 34 — who died on Jan. 5 of respiratory failure at his parents’ New Jersey home — as being “in the line of duty,” making survivors eligible for more benefits. Dr. Robin Herbert, who has screened thousands of first responders through the World Trade Center Worker and Volunteer Medical Screening Program, called Detective Zadroga’s autopsy report a “sentinel event” and a warning sign. “It should be taken very seriously and investigated with great vigor,” Dr. Herbert said. But while acknowledging that those exposed to the dust may develop fatal diseases, many medical experts who have tracked the health effects of the trade center collapse have been reluctant to cross the line in between probability and certainty. The autopsy report went further than any other medical document to link a death to the dust, but it by no means provides conclusive proof of the dust’s general toxicity and its impact on other workers at the site. That, experts generally agree, may take 20 years to play out, depending on the latency period for many cancers and other diseases that could be linked to exposure to the toxic materials. … (NYTimes, by Anthony DePalma, April 14, 2006)
  • Nadler: Coroner’s Report Confirms 9/11 Health Crisis (News Release, April 14, 2006)
  • Long Shadows of Ground Zero … Mount Sinai Hospital in New York is studying the health of these people. The preliminary findings of a small sample of the 16,000 workers and volunteers found that almost three-quarters had new or worsening respiratory problems while working on site, and half of them had symptoms that lasted at least eight months after they stopped their work at Ground Zero. It found that 31 per cent of people who never smoked had abnormal breathing tests. The figure among the general population is 13 per cent. As well, 40 per cent had new or worsening heartburn or indigestion problems. … (Sydney Morning Herald, April 14, 2006)
  • Class Action to Be Filed over September 11 Dust … (ABC/Australian Broadcasting Corporation, By Stephen McDonell, April 14, 2006)
  • Autopsy Prompts Calls for More Sept. 11 Health Treatment … Researchers say it will take decades to determine which illnesses and deaths among ground zero workers were caused by their exposure to the asbestos-laden dust cloud. Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-Manhattan, Vito Fossella, R-Staten Island, and Christopher Shays, R-Conn., say the report should prompt more action from the federal government in screening and treating sick ground zero workers. The government now funds screening and treatment programs, but lawmakers, including Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., have for years complained the programs do not get enough federal support to reach and treat all the people affected by the attacks and their aftermath. … (Newsday/AP, By Devlin Barrett, April 13, 2006)
  • Health Screenings for Responders ... In all, 24,000 firefighters, police officers, construction workers and those who cleared Ground Zero debris have been screened in the wider program, which in addition to Nassau University Medical Center, includes Stony Brook University Hospital on Long Island and Mount Sinai Hospital, NYU Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan.Steier underscored that exposure differed among first responders and not all inhaled the same amount of debris nor suffered the same ill effects. However, World Trade Center cough, a disorder new to medicine, developed in the wake of the attack because of the unique nature of the debris. The dry, hacking cough still plagues many first responders, he said.Reactive airways dysfunction syndrome — RADS — is another chronic respiratory condition that lingers. It is an asthma-like condition first described in 1985 and generally is caused by occupational irritants. But doctors also continue to diagnose asthma and even pulmonary fibrosis, a devastating lung condition typified by inflammation and scarring in the lungs’ airways. Dr. William Rom, a specialist in environmental medicine at NYU School of Medicine, said immediately after the disaster he and his team performed a bronchoalveolar lavage — a wash — on both lungs of a firefighter in respiratory failure and found ash particles, degraded chromium and long amosite fibers, which are associated with asbestos. The firefighter was treated aggressively with steroids to reduce inflammation and now is healthy, said Rom, who added that the worst respiratory problems were experienced by only a minority of responders. “There are lingering effects from the exposure, which are best described as inflammatory or destructive processes.”Dr. Phillip Landrigan, who has led numerous studies on exposure to World Trade dust, said the primary component in the plume was pulverized concrete. “The striking thing about concrete is that it can be very toxic when inhaled. It’s alkaline, but basically it does the same thing as a very strong acid. It burns and cauterizes tissue,” said Landrigan, chairman of community and preventive medicine at Mount Sinai. (Newsday, By Delthia Ricks, April 13, 2006)
  • Death & Ground Zero … Casting no aspersions on Dr. Breton’s expertise or professionalism, it remains that New York City needs to get a second opinion regarding the Zadroga autopsy. And, in the likely event that Breton’s findings are confirmed, City Hall and Albany need to vigorously contest the notion that any and all illnesses and incapacities that present themselves in Ground Zero workers years after the event are presumptively 9/11-related. For you can bet that extreme pressure to write such assumptions into labor contracts, city codes and state law – particularly pension law – will come quickly to a head. Junk science, fear and raw emotion – fueled by personal greed and rapacious tort lawyers – have long since trumped justice, equity and simple common sense in the practice of personal injury law. It is critically important that those who were physically injured on 9/11 and in its aftermath are treated fairly and with justice. New York, and America, owes them at least that much. It is equally critical that advantage-seekers, their lawyers and those who (perhaps sincerely) believe themselves to have been harmed, but who were not, be barred from undeserved paydays. … (New York Post editorial, April 13, 2006 )
  • EMT in Struggle to Save Own Life … Just two months later, he began showing symptoms of his exposure to hazardous Ground Zero dust. “I started getting the World Trade Center cough,” he said. “I didn’t think it was a big deal – everybody had it.” But it got worse and worse. Early in 2003, doctors found cancerous tumors called synovial sarcoma in his throat. “It’s a very rare form of cancer to get in that area of the body,” Dahl said. … (New York Post, By Erika Martinez, April 13, 2006 )
  • Air safety fears delay bank bldg. demolition … Demolition of the highly contaminated Deutsche Bank building near Ground Zero cannot go forward until an “acceptable” safety plan is in place – delaying the project at least until June, the Environmental Protection Agency warned yesterday. In a letter to the state agency overseeing the tricky project, an EPA official said the agency has numerous concerns with the current plan to tear down the dust-filled tower at 130 Liberty St. floor by floor. Worried about a release of toxic dust, the EPA’s Pat Evangelista warned that demolition will not begin until the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. “has provided … an acceptable plan.” Demolition was scheduled to start this month, but now it’s off until June or later . Two weeks ago, the EPA demanded an explanation for “significant changes” made to the demolition plan submitted by the development corporation. There have been two worker injuries at the site, and local politicians and neighborhood groups have called the demolition plan “dangerously inadequate.” In a letter released yesterday, the EPA took issue with the current proposal to use heavy concrete crushing equipment on the top floors of the 40-story tower – and send the debris down a chute to the street. The EPA denied the LMDC’s claim that the chute, the concrete crusher and several other disputed methods were part of plans approved by the federal agency last fall. “The regulatory agencies are reviewing the information about this newly proposed chute, and we have concerns about it,” wrote Evangelista. … The demolition of 130 Liberty was estimated to cost $46 million but has risen to $52 million due to increased insurance costs, officials said. (NYDaily News, by Greg B. Smith, April 13, 2006)
  • 9/11 Health Findings No Surprise … David Reeve was already convinced. He didn’t need to see a coroner’s report that New York City police detective James Zadroga was killed by dust above Ground Zero. His wife, a paramedic, worked at the Ground Zero morgue for several months and died last month of a rare lung cancer, so Reeve said he knew what those dark clouds could do. … “It should be noted that there is no scientific evidence showing an increase in cancer rates among uniformed services personnel or other persons who worked at the World Trade Center, or that links cancer to work done at the site,” Kenneth Becker, who leads the city law department’s World Trade Center Unit, said in a statement … (Newsday, By Luis Perez, April 13, 2006)
  • Air Safety Fears Delay Bank Bldg. Demolition … Demolition of the highly contaminated Deutsche Bank building near Ground Zero cannot go forward until an “acceptable” safety plan is in place – delaying the project at least until June, the Environmental Protection Agency warned yesterday. In a letter to the state agency overseeing the tricky project, an EPA official said the agency has numerous concerns with the current plan to tear down the dust-filled tower at 130 Liberty St. floor by floor. Worried about a release of toxic dust, the EPA’s Pat Evangelista warned that demolition will not begin until the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. “has provided … an acceptable plan.” Demolition was scheduled to start this month, but now it’s off until June or later. … (Daily News, By Greg B. Smith, April 13, 2006)
  • ‘9/11 Air’ Death Has Sad Echo … In the years since he dug through World Trade Center debris, Williamson, 45, has lost his pancreas, spleen, gall bladder, most of his stomach and parts of his intestines and a lung to cancer. Chemotherapy is no longer working, and he’s now on a drug therapy program that costs him $7,000. … (New York Post, By Murray Weiss and Bill Sanderson, April 13, 2006 )
  • Insurance Battles Blamed in Death: Victim Was a N.Y. Cop Who Worked at Ground Zero … Ask Joseph Zadroga, and he will say his son James’ death was partly caused by constant battles over health insurance. “Nobody would treat him,” Joseph Zadroga said, describing his son’s final year…. (Asbury Park Press, By Brian Prince, April 13, 2006 )
  • Congress in Battle to Track Poisons … “The toxic soup of Ground Zero is responsible for killing 9/11 heroes,” Maloney said. “It is truly sad that 41/2 years after 9/11, the government does not have a comprehensive plan to treat those who are suffering as a result of the attacks.” … (New York Post, By Bill Sanderson and Murray Weiss, April 13, 2006)
  • New York’s Debt to a Hero’s Child … Finally, all levels of government must see to it that no one who responded to 9/11 – cops, firefighters, ironworkers, et al. – goes without proper medical attention for lack of insurance. Finally, the NYPD and FDNY must begin to recognize certified Ground Zero deaths as having occurred in the line of duty so that surviving family members are afforded enhanced benefits. Tylerann Zadroga, 4, is one such survivor. Her mother died in 2004, and her father’s death has left the toddler in the care of grandparents. She deserves all that New York can offer. …(Daily News editorial, April 13, 2006 )
  • 9/11 Lawsuit Could Push EPA to Take Charge after Disasters … The U.S. EPA has been unwilling to assume full responsibility for the cleanup of hazardous materials resulting from the nation’s 2 biggest disasters in the past 5 years, the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 … The lawsuit (Benzman v Whitman) [480KB PDF] claims that EPA officials failed to take chargeof the cleanup of building interiors despite the fact that the agency had the right and obligation to do so under federal law. On February 2, Judge Deborah Batts of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York rejected [204KB PDF] an appeal by EPA to dismiss the suit and allowed it to move forward. President Bush’s declaration of New York City as a disaster area activated the National Response Plan, which assigns explicit responsibility to EPA as the lead in response to uncontrolled releases of hazardous materials in any major disaster or emergency, Batts wrote in her decision. In addition, Presidential Decision Directive 62, signed by President Clinton in 1998, assigns similar authority to EPA for cleanup of sites contaminated as a result of terrorism, she added. … (Environmental Science and Technology, By Janet Pelley, April 12, 2006)
  • Zadroga 9/11 Ruling Likely To Help Other Rescuers: Detective Found To Have Died As A Result Of Terror Attacks: Dectective Found To Have Died As A Result Of Terror Attacks … For the first time, a medical examiner has ruled that the death of a responder to Ground Zero was directly related to the 9/11 attacks. … (CBS News, By Wendy Gillette, April 12, 2006)
  • Problems mount from 9/11 fallout … The number of people with medical problems linked to the 9/11 attacks on New York has risen to at least 15,000. The figure, put together for the BBC, counts those receiving treatment for problems related to breathing in dust. Many of the victims say the government offered false reassurances that the Manhattan air was safe and are now pursuing a class-action lawsuit. On Tuesday, a coroner said the death of a policeman who developed a respiratory disease was “directly linked” to 9/11. James Zadroga – who worked at Ground Zero – died in January. The New Jersey coroner’s ruling was the first of its kind. (BBCNews, by David Shukman, April 12, 2006)
  • WTC air doomed ex-cop: Autopsy confirms family suspicions … An autopsy of a retired NYPD detective confirmed yesterday what his family and fellow cops long suspected – that James Zadroga’s death was “directly related” to the Ground Zero cleanup. The stunning findings are believed to mark the first time the death of a cleanup worker has been officially tied to the aftermath of the terror attacks. … (DailyNews, by Rich Schapiro, April 12, 2006)
  • Daughter, 4, Knows That Daddy Died a Hero … Tylerann Zadroga is only 4, too young to understand the significance of the autopsy report released yesterday that linked her father’s death to his work at Ground Zero. … (Daily News, by Rich Schapiro, April 12, 2006)
  • Ground Zero Job Did Kill Officer … He was plagued by nightmares and headaches, and ultimately needed oxygen, antibiotics and steroid injections just to get through the day. He had lost 40 pounds by the time his father found him dead on his bedroom floor in the family home. The coroner’s autopsy was performed Feb. 28. … (New York Post, By Murray Weiss and Cathy Burke, April 12, 2006)
  • Union Wants Detective’s Death Reclassified As “In The Line Of Duty” … The detectives’ union now says they want the death of one of its officers to be re-classified as a death in the line of duty. The request follows a New Jersey medical examiner’s conclusion that NYPD Detective James Zadroga’s death was directly connected to the recovery work he did at the World Trade Center site following the attacks of September 11th, 2001. The 34-year-old retired detective died in January from respiratory failure. (NY1, April 12, 2006)
  • Letter from EPA to LMDC: Phase II Structural Deconstruction Activities at 130 Lierty Street, NYC … The reulators appreciate LMDC’s attempt to clarity its position with regard to the structural deconsturction activities. However, EPA and its regulatory partners have not been provided with sufficient deterals about these proposed engineering changes to evaluate them fully. … EPA and its rgulatory partners do not agree with LMDC’s interpretation that certain of the actiivities mentioned in the Apriul 3 letter were authorized by the September 7, 2005 deconstruction plans. In addition, EPA and its regulatory partners will have additional questions and/or concerns to relayt to LMDC after we have had an opportunity to review the information that LMDC has recently submitted for PhaseII struction deconstruction of the project;…Waster Sampling and Management Plan, Use of Chute for Transportation of Cleaned Concrete, Use of Concrete Crushing Equipment, Use of Construtcion Debris On-Site as Fill, Buffer Zone Between Abatement and Cleaning, Use of a “Floating Roof” …. (April 11, 2006)
  • Former NYPD Detective’s Death Linked to 9/11 Cleanup … A New Jersey medical examiner confirmed Tuesday the recent death of a retired NYPD detective was caused by his work at the World Trade Center site following the 9/11 attacks. James Zadroga, 34, died in January from what was called brain and respiratory complications. The union representing NYPD detectives has long argued Zadroga’s death was a direct result of his rescue and recovery work at the WTC site, and Tuesday an autopsy report filed by a New Jersey medical examiner confirmed it. Zadroga’s autopsy found the cause of death was respiratory failure due to history of exposure to toxic fumes and dust. “It is felt with a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the cause of death in this case was directly related to the 9/11 incident,” said Detectives’ Endowment Association President Michael Palladino, quoting the ME’s report. Many who were in excellent physical condition on September 10th, 2001 say they are now paying the price physically and emotionally. Some are terminally ill. … “My name is Detective Ernest Balabona. I have non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and its not in remission,” said one former NYPD member. “They removed my pancreas, my spleen, my stomach, my gall bladder, and I’ve been fighting chemo for three years now,” said retired NYPD Detective Robert Williamson. “I’ve had infections, I’ve had open heart surgery.” “Excuse my voice. I have acid reflux and sinusitis,” said fellow retired NYPD Detective Belinda Shaw. Now the detectives union wants to make sure Zadroga and the hundreds of other 9/11 responders who came down with illnesses get what’s due them and their families if their illnesses also prove fatal. “In the current World Trade Center disability law, there is no provision for a death benefit within the law for those people who retire, and that in retirement their death is caused by their assignment to the World Trade Center,” said Palladino. Under current law, Zadroga’s pension worked out to three-quarters of tax-free disability income. But the union says because the cause of death has been directly linked to 9/11, his pension should reflect that. “If he’s re-designated to a line of duty death, we can get that upped to a 100 percent tax-free, and we can get to live on until [Zadroga’s daughter] Tyler Ann is 19 or 23 if she is a full time student,” said Palladino. The union is pushing for a WTC task force to review cases and make a recommendation to get the pension law amended. “It’s not for James at this point. It’s for his family, it’s for his daughter, and for these other officers’ families,” said Joseph Zadroga, the father of the fallen detective. The NYPD has not yet issued a comment about the case. (NY1, April 11, 2006)
  • Autopsy Links Policeman’s Death Directly to Post-Sept. 11 Work … Zadroga died on Jan. 6 of respiratory failure and had inflammation in his lung tissue due to “a history of exposure to toxic fumes and dust,” Breton wrote. The detective spent 470 hours after the attacks sifting through the twin towers’ smoldering ruins, wearing a paper mask for protection. His breathing became labored within weeks, he developed a cough and he had to use an oxygen tank to breathe. He retired on disability in November 2004. The coroner found material “consistent with dust” in Zadroga’s lungs and damage to his liver and said his heart and spleen were enlarged. … (AP/Newsday, by Amy Westfeldt, April 11, 2006)
  • 9/11 First Responders With Cancer Sue City … A group of first responders say their brain illness is linked to toxic air and dust from 9/11. A lawyer for several of those affected says the group is seeking immediate action by the city along with monetary damages. Dozens of people, including six NYPD officers, developed brain cancer after September 11th. Many are blaming the illness on their rescue and recovery work at the Trade Center site. Their attorney claims that out of the 7,300 sick workers and family members involved in the case, 41 have now died. The city’s lawyers say they will not comment on the case, because they have not yet seen the lawsuit. (NY1, April 9, 2006)
  • Asbestos Shirt is a Toxic New Wrinkle in WTC Woe … Sky-high toxic levels of potentially deadly asbestos still cling to the fibers of this ordinary white dress shirt – worn by a 9/11 volunteer for two days at Ground Zero, a shocking analysis sought by The Post reveals. Community liaison Yehuda Kaploun volunteered at Ground Zero for 48 hours immediately after the attack, wearing the shirt as he watched good friend and beloved Fire Department chaplain Mychal Judge die in a building collapse. The volunteer kept his contaminated shirt packed in a sealed plastic bag until last week, when The Post sent the garment to RJ Lee Group laboratories for testing. Analyzed portions of his shirt collar reveal a chilling concentration of chrysotile asbestos – 93,000 times higher than the average typically found in the environment in U.S. cities. That appears to be even higher than what the EPA said was found in the most contaminated, blown-out building after 9/11.While there appear to be no specific regulations for asbestos levels on clothing, one lawyer for relief workers called the sickly shirt’s amount “astronomically toxic.” It’s the “high end of surface concentrations that you would find anywhere,” added Chuck Kraisinger, a senior scientist for RJ Lee. Testing also revealed the shirt was contaminated with zinc, mercury, antimony, barium, chromium, cobalt, copper, lead and molybdenum. Tons of the heavy metals were pulverized and burned in the debris in fires that raged for four months. The test results are especially frightening in light of last week’s report by the Centers for Disease Control that 62 percent of those caught in the massive dust cloud suffered respiratory problems. Also, 46 percent of civilians living or working in the immediate area but not caught in the cloud still experienced respiratory problems – and 57 percent reported new and worsening respiratory symptoms. … (NYPost, by Linda Statsi & Susan Edelman, April 9, 2006)
  • Citing changes, EPA withholds OK on Deutsche demo … The Environmental Protection Agency has asked to see more detailed plans about the demolition of the former Deutsche Bank building, potentially delaying the demolition of the 9/11-contaminated tower once again. Located at 130 Liberty St., the building is contaminated with a host of World Trade Center toxins including mold, asbestos and lead. Last September, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. finally won approval from the E.P.A. to clean the 40-story tower floor by floor and demolish it in sections. The corporation began erecting scaffolding last fall and plans to begin taking the tower down in June. But the timetable might be delayed. Pat Evangelista, W.T.C. Coordinator for the E.P.A., sent the L.M.D.C. a letter last month saying L.M.D.C.’s current plan “had significant differences” to what was approved last September. Local residents and labor leaders have long voiced concerns that if the building is not demolished painstakingly, the neighborhood could be re-contaminated or workers could risk health complications. Some of the differences include the use of concrete crushing equipment, a chute to carry crushed concrete to ground level and a “floating roof” covering the site. “These and other changes will of course have an impact on the potential release of contaminants,” wrote Evangelista.The demolition cannot go forward without E.P.A. approval. … The E.P.A. now needs to review and approve the L.M.D.C. plan before it can begin. “We can’t let [the demolition] go forward unless we’re assured that taking the building apart isn’t going to adversely affect the abatement work,” said E.P.A. spokesperson Mary Mears, adding that “it’s certainly not our intention” to delay the process. … (Downtown Express, by Ronda Kaysen, April 7-13, 2006)
  • Asbestos Shirt Is a Toxic New Wrinkle in WTC Woe … ky-high toxic levels of potentially deadly asbestos still cling to the fibers of this ordinary white dress shirt – worn by a 9/11 volunteer for two days at Ground Zero, a shocking analysis sought by The Post reveals. Community liaison Yehuda Kaploun volunteered at Ground Zero for 48 hours immediately after the attack, wearing the shirt as he watched good friend and beloved Fire Department chaplain Mychal Judge die in a building collapse. The volunteer kept his contaminated shirt packed in a sealed plastic bag until last week, when The Post sent the garment to RJ Lee Group laboratories for testing. Analyzed portions of his shirt collar reveal a chilling concentration of chrysotile asbestos – 93,000 times higher than the average typically found in the environment in U.S. cities. That appears to be even higher than what the EPA said was found in the most contaminated, blown-out building after 9/11.While there appear to be no specific regulations for asbestos levels on clothing, one lawyer for relief workers called the sickly shirt’s amount “astronomically toxic.” It’s the “high end of surface concentrations that you would find anywhere,” added Chuck Kraisinger, a senior scientist for RJ Lee. Testing also revealed the shirt was contaminated with zinc, mercury, antimony, barium, chromium, cobalt, copper, lead and molybdenum. Tons of the heavy metals were pulverized and burned in the debris in fires that raged for four months. The test results are especially frightening in light of last week’s report by the Centers for Disease Control that 62 percent of those caught in the massive dust cloud suffered respiratory problems. Also, 46 percent of civilians living or working in the immediate area but not caught in the cloud still experienced respiratory problems – and 57 percent reported new and worsening respiratory symptoms. … (New York Post, By Linda Stasi and Susan Edelman, April 9, 2006)
  • 6 Cops Got Brain Cancer … An alarming number of 9/11 responders have been stricken with brain cancer – including six NYPD cops, The Post has learned. At least 11 of the Ground Zero rescue and recovery workers and their families claim in a class-action lawsuit – which includes dozens of other cancer victims – that toxic air and dust caused or triggered the rare, often fatal, brain illness. Three brain-cancer victims have died, raising the total death toll in a 7,300-plaintiff lawsuit brought by workers and their families to 41, said lead attorney David Worby. They include Stephen “Rak” Yurek, 46, a Port Authority emergency technician from Bayonne, N.J., who died Dec. 11 after a 16-month illness. He left behind a wife and four children ages 10 to 25. His widow, Mary Ellen, said he was healthy before his 2004 diagnosis. “He was never sick a day in his life,” she told The Post. … Other brain-cancer victims include an FDNY fireman, 55, a female Red Cross social worker, 58, a male Tischman construction worker, 40, a male city transportation worker, 48, and a male city environmental protection worker, 49, Worby said. “The toxins at the World Trade Center compromised the immune systems and led to a rapid spread of cancer, including to the brain,” Worby alleges. (NYPost, by Carl Campanile and Susan Edelman, April 9, 2006)
  • Plenty of frustration, few answers for sick 9/11 workers … More than four years have passed since retired fire marshal Joe Sykes walked into an asbestos-choked dust cloud on Sept. 11. His health deteriorated so badly and so fast that he had to retire a year later. “I started coughing that day, and I haven’t stopped yet,” said Sykes, 49. … Health officials say it could take 20 years to find definite links between the toxic cloud and subsequent diseases or deaths, because most cancers take that long or even longer to develop and decades of statistics are needed to prove a relationship. “It seems like they’re trying to do the right thing, and it’s good to help people in the future, but they don’t have any answers for us now,” said Sykes, who worked at the on-site morgue at ground zero until the end of October 2001, when he went on leave. “It’s frustrating for me, and frustrating for my family. When they get those answers, are we still going to be alive?” The issue has taken on greater prominence in recent months amid reports that some Sept. 11 workers are dying of various ailments that their families blame on ground zero exposure. Spurred by New York lawmakers of both parties, Congress has spent more than $100 million to provide health programs for ground zero workers. Sykes signed up for one of them, a screening program run by Mount Sinai. … In an aging city office building in lower Manhattan, less than a dozen city workers and researchers are working on a project they hope will eventually answer Sykes’ questions. The World Trade Center Health Registry has gathered information from 71,437 people who worked at ground zero or were in the area at the time of the attacks. Described by New York City’s deputy health commissioner Lorna Thorpe as “a Rolodex” of those affected by Sept. 11, the registry is the largest such effort in the United States. However, the registry conducts no medical exams or screening like the program at Mount Sinai. Instead, it uses mailings and phone calls to collect updates from people who signed up for the program. Mount Sinai’s program is designed to track symptoms among rescue workers and construction workers; the city registry is a much broader effort to monitor, over a period of decades, a huge population including everyday residents who happened to be nearby in case they develop health problems. It costs the city $46 per person per year to keep in touch with the registrants, who will receive the first follow-up questionnaire this month, a 12- or 16-page form asking for more details of their exposure, and an update on any symptoms. ….Critics of the health programs say the research is useless if it can’t be used to help those who are suffering now. “They’ve done nothing with all that data,” said Pat Lynch, president of the city’s police union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. “If we’re looking 10 or 20 years down the road, then we’re talking about a body count. I’m not looking to do a body count, I’m talking about finding out what problems exist and treating them. We’re not there to fill someone’s filing cabinet,” said Lynch. … However, that index lags by as much as two years, so even when the registry does complete its first post-Sept. 11 death count, it will only reflect deaths from 2004 or earlier. … As an occupational safety officer for the federal government, George Allen was assigned to ground zero for a week in November 2001. Allen recently had a section of his intestine removed as he battles stage-four colon cancer. He doesn’t blame all of his cancer on Sept. 11, but said the exposure spurred his disease. “You can’t ignore the anecdotal evidence just because it’s anecdotal,” said Allen. “I undoubtedly had some degree of cancer, but the World Trade Center promoted that cancer.” Through its worker compensation program, the U.S. government has taken a dim view of any injury claim not directly from the day of the attacks. Allen, 46, was one of the 485 federal employees to file for workers compensation claiming injuries from the aftermath at ground zero. Virtually all of those claims, some 478, were either rejected by the government or abandoned. Of the claims stemming from the day of the attacks, the government approved nearly all 987 of those. … (Newsday, by Devlin Barrett, April 9, 2006)
  • Study: 9/11 Escapees Have Health Problems … City officials in charge of the registry say it will likely take 20 years or more to determine whether 9/11 exposure led to increased cancer deaths or illnesses among survivors.The study said more than six in 10 were caught in the clouds of trade center dust that enveloped the area. Those people were nearly three times as likely to have respiratory problems, 40 percent more likely to experience severe psychological problems and five times more likely to report suffering a stroke, Brackbill said.More than 56 percent of the survivors said they had new or worsening respiratory ailments, including sinus problems, shortness of breath and a persistent cough. More than 43 percent sustained a physical injury on Sept. 11; the most common were eye injuries. … (AP/Sacbee, by Amy Westfeldt, April 9, 2006)
  • Deutsche Bank Building To Be Inspected For More Human Remains … (NY1, April 8, 2006)
  • 9/11 Survivors’ “Clouded’ Future: Post-Collapse Dust Created Worst Woes … Those trapped in the dust and debris cloud were nearly three times more likely to experience respiratory symptoms than other building survivors not bathed by the cloud and at least twice as likely to experience mental health problems, according to a survey of 8,500 survivors by the Centers for Disease Control. “That was most surprising to us – the impact of the dust cloud,” noted Dr. Lorna Thorpe, deputy commissioner of the city Health Department and head of the World Trade Center Health Registry, which has been tracking the health of more than 71,000 people who worked at or were near Ground Zero on 9/11. “Building survivors overall had high levels of respiratory symptoms and high levels of mental health symptoms two or three years after the event, when we interviewed them,” Thorpe said. … (NYPost, by Marsha Kranes, April 8, 2006)
  • 9/11 Survivors Still under a Cloud, Docs Say … Most survivors of the World Trade Center terror attacks suffered physical and mental health problems that will require monitoring for years, a federal health agency said yesterday. Those caught in the clouds of dust and debris that blanketed lower Manhattan when the buildings collapsed were several times more likely than others who escaped to suffer breathing problems or psychological trauma, researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. … (NYDaily News, by Owen Moritz, April 8, 2006)
  • Surveillance for World Trade Center Disaster Health Effects Among Survivors of Callapsed and Damaged Buildings …. (Morbidity and Mortality Weeekly Report, April 7, 2006/Vol. 55/No. SS-2)
  • Experts Brought in To Inspect Human Remains Found Near WTC Site … Deutsche Bank is in the early stages of being torn down, and has already been thoroughly cleaned. The LMDC, which is running the deconstruction, says such findings are not unexpected. … (April 7, 2006)
  • Survivors of 9/11 to Be Monitored for Health Effects, CDC Says ... More than half of the survivors, about 57 percent, reported new or worsening respiratory problems after the attacks, and 21 percent have had severe headaches, the CDC said, citing interviews with 8,418 adults who were in or around the site. … The collapse released particles of concrete, glass, plastic and paper into the air, the CDC said in the report. Fires at the 16-acre pile of rubble burned for about 3 months, and many people inhaled the fumes when they returned to work in lower Manhattan. …(Bloomberg News , By Kevin Orland , April 7, 2006 )
  • Substantial Physical and Mental Health Effects Reported by WTC Building Survivors … Findings Based on World Trade Center Building Survivors, a Subset of Participants in WTC Health Registry; Survivors Caught in Dust Cloud Two to Five Times More Likely to Report Physical or Mental Health Problems After September 11 Than Those Who were Not; New Survey of WTC Registry Participants to Begin Within a Month … (NYCDOHMH News Release, April 7, 2006)
  • WTC Health Registry: Rescue Workers More Likely To Develop Problems … Using information gathered by the World Trade Center Health Registry, researchers have found people who were in the dust cloud following the 9/11 attacks are two to five times more likely to report mental and physical problems than those who weren’t. The effects include respiratory problems, sinus conditions, newly diagnosed asthma, depression, anxiety or emotional problems. … (NY1, April 7, 2006)
  • Study: 9/11 survivors have psychological, respiratory problems …A majority of survivors of the 2001 attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center suffered from respiratory ailments and depression, anxiety and other psychological problems up to three years later, federal health officials said Friday. he people who escaped from collapsed or damaged buildings on Sept. 11, 2001, were several times as likely to suffer from breathing problems or psychological trauma if they were caught in the cloud of trade center dust and debris that covered lower Manhattan, researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. … More than 56 percent of the survivors said they had new or worsening respiratory ailments, including sinus problems, shortness of breath and a persistent cough. More than 43 percent sustained a physical injury on Sept. 11; the most common were eye injuries. More than two in 10 of the survivors also reported ailments like heartburn, indigestion and severe headaches, the study said. … (Newsday, by Amy westfeldt, April 7, 2006)
  • Surveillance for World Trade Center Disaster Health Effects Among Survivors of Collapsed and Damaged Buildings … Results: A total of 62.4% of survivors of collapsed or damaged buildings were caught in the dust and debris cloud that resulted from the collapse of the WTC towers, and 63.8% experienced three or more potentially psychologically traumatizing events. Injuries were common (43.6%), but few survivors reported injuries that would have required extensive treatment. More than half (56.6%) of survivors reported experiencing new or worsening respiratory symptoms after the attacks, 23.9% had heartburn/reflux, and 21.0% had severe headaches. … Interpretation: Two to three years after September 11, survivors of buildings that collapsed or that were damaged as a result of the WTC attack reported substantial physical and mental health problems. The long-term ramifications of these effects are unknown. Many survivors were caught directly in the dust and debris of collapsing towers, a dense cloud of particulate matter that might have produced or exacerbated these health effects. Public Health Action Recommended: Long-term follow-up of building survivors and all other persons enrolled in WTCHR should be maintained, with particular attention to those persons exposed to the dust cloud. Some of these findings might lead to building designs that can minimize injury hazards. … (MMWR, April 7, 2006/55(SS02);1-18; Robert M. Brackbill, PhD,1 Lorna E. Thorpe, PhD,2 Laura DiGrande, MPH,2 Megan Perrin, MPH,2 James H. Sapp, II, MS,1 David Wu, MS,2 Sharon Campolucci, MSN,1 Deborah J. Walker, PhD,2 Jim Cone, MD,2 Paul Pulliam,3 Lisa Thalji, MA,3 Mark R. Farfel, ScD,2 Pauline Thomas, MD4 )
  • World Trade Center Health Effects: New CDC Report Confirms Widespread Illness Among Survivors (Nadler News Release, April 7, 2006)
  • Pieces of Bone Are Found On Building AT 9/11 Site .. A crew of demolition workers discovered 74 bone fragments near the World Trade Center site over the weekend, the largest number of remains found since the end of recovery operations nearly three years ago and a sign that significant quantities of human remains may have gone unnoticed in sporadic… (NYTimes, by Jim Dwyer, James Brron, April 6, 2006)
  • New 9/11 dustup: LMDC blasted in bank bldg. demolition plan switch … Federal environmental officials and local residents are blasting the state agency in charge of Ground Zero for suddenly altering plans for the demolition of the highly contaminated Deutsche Bank building, the Daily News has learned. The angry notice from the Environmental Protection Agency comes just days before contractors are supposed to begin cleansing the structure of a toxic brew of asbestos, lead, cadmium, dioxin and other poisons deposited after the 9/11 collapse of the twin towers. The feds are upset that a subcontractor assigned to the tricky demolition job made “significant changes” to the debris removal plan that could affect “public safety, health and the environment.” Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan), local residents and other elected officials also are upset at the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which oversees Ground Zero, for what they termed a “dangerously inadequate” demolition plan. Said Kimberly Flynn of the 9/11 Environmental Action group: “Now the toxic tower is coming down – imminently – but we do not yet have an EPA-approved demolition plan in place.” The floor-by-floor demolition is scheduled to begin next month. Its $46 million cost has risen to $52 million due to increased insurance requirements, state officials said. Before a single brick can be removed, however, the building’s interior must be cleansed, a process expected to begin during the next two weeks. In several letters over the past month, the EPA has been seeking explanations for “significant differences” from the original approved demolition plan. In a March 20 letter, the EPA noted five unapproved additions by John Galt Co., the subcontractor responsible for the toxic cleanup and the demolition: a concrete crushing machine on the upper floors, construction of a chute through which crushed concrete would plummet to the ground, a five-story buffer zone between the toxic cleanup and the actual demolition, use of a floating “roof” as the work progresses and the use of debris as fill material at the site. Pat Evangelista, the EPA official in charge of the Ground Zero cleanup, warned the LMDC that the added techniques “will of course have an impact on potential releases of contaminants.” He said additional information and analysis was “essential to our ongoing responsibility to protect public health and the environment.” … (NYDaily News, by Greg B. Smith, April 5, 2006)
  • Ground Zero Elected Officials and Residents Demand Better Emergency Plan for Deutsche Bank Demolition: Worker’s fall heightens community concerns about existing procedures … Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) joined with other elected officials, community activists, and residents of Lower Manhattan to criticize the Emergency Action Plan in place for the demolition of 130 Liberty Street, calling the plan “dangerously inadequate.” Nadler called on New York City’s Office of Emergency Management and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to work together to develop a more detailed community notification and response plan that takes into consideration the special circumstances and sensitivities of the surrounding neighborhood. …. (Nadler News Release, April 4, 2006)
  • MTA Begins 189 Broadway Deconstruction … On the way to construction of the $799 million Fulton Street Transit Center, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) recently mobilized plans to raze the 189 Broadway building. The two-story building, located at the southwest corner of Broadway and Dey, was home to the World of Golf and several other retail businesses. Its demolition makes room for a new entrance to the Dey Street underground concourse that will link the transit center with the Cortlandt Street R/W subway station and the PATH via the World Trade Center Transportation Hub. The first phase of 189 Broadway’s deconstruction is the abatement of asbestos and lead in the building’s structure. This phase got underway in late March, though it was suspended in April for further environmental review. The abatement process includes removal of materials like asbestos floor tiles, wire insulation, electrical panels, and roofing. It also includes proper abatement of any structural materials coated with lead paint before their removal. When the deconstruction resumes, the MTA contractor will follow NYS Department of Labor procedures, OSHA regulations and all state and local guidelines for the building’s safe deconstruction. Safety measures for the abatement process include using negative air pressure within the building and wetting to control and contain dust. … The actual deconstruction will follow abatement and is expected to take less than two months. The deconstruction process will begin with the erection of a sidewalk shed around the building. Next, utilities will be disconnected and interior loose debris, partitions, and finishes will be removed. The final stage of the process will be demolition. Dust control will be performed throughout, along with independent certified hazardous-materials inspections, air monitoring, and testing. … (LowerManhattan.info, April 3, 2006)
  • Giving These Ground Zero Responders What They’ve Due … The state requires employers to take out insurance policies on their workers and workers’ compensation is supposed to reimburse them for medical costs and lost wages resulting from injuries or illnesses acquired on the job. The system tends to pay up promptly for injuries caused by on-the-job accidents. But proving you have a work-related disease is an excruciating process. It takes months to get a hearing before an administrative judge; insurance companies routinely dispute claims and stall to keep from paying; and cases typically drag on for two to three years…. Piccuro came down with a bad cough soon after his work at Ground Zero. But it wasn’t until August 2004 that he started developing more serious problems, including vomiting, weakness, body aches, breathing difficulty, migraines, swollen lymph nodes and a recurring rash. Doctors at Mount Sinai diagnosed him with chronic bronchitis, chronic rhinitis (constriction of the nose and throat), gastro-esophageal reflux disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, and other illnesses, and warned that he’s at risk for contracting throat cancer. … (Newsday, By Sheryl McCarthy, April 3, 2006)
  • WTC Cleanup Lawsuit: Bayonne Man Died of Cancer in December … The family of a Bayonne man who participated in the search and recovery effort at the World Trade Center in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and who died of cancer in December, is suing for damages. “We have a lawsuit,” said Mary Ellen Yurek, the widow of Stephen “Rak” Yurek, 47, who was an emergency first responder for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for 23 years. Doctors told Stephen Yurek he had brain cancer in 2004. His widow declined to elaborate, referring questions to the New York law firm of Worby Groner Edelman Napoli & Bern. No one at the firm could be reached for comment yesterday. … (Jersey Journal, By Ronald Leir, April 1, 2006 )
  • Surveillance for World Trade Center Disaster Health Effects Among Survivors of Collapsed and Damaged Buildings … A total of 62.4% of survivors of collapsed or damaged buildings were caught in the dust and debris cloud that resulted from the collapse of the WTC towers, and 63.8% experienced three or more potentially psychologically traumatizing events. Injuries were common (43.6%), but few survivors reported injuries that would have required extensive treatment. More than half (56.6%) of survivors reported experiencing new or worsening respiratory symptoms after the attacks, 23.9% had heartburn/reflux, and 21.0% had severe headaches. At the time of the interview,10.7% of building survivors screened positive for serious psychological distress (SPD) using the K6 instrument. After multiple adjustments, data indicated that survivors caught in the dust and debris cloud were more likely to report any injuries (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 3.9; p<0.05); any respiratory symptom (AOR = 2.7; p<0.05); severe headaches (AOR = 2.0; p<0.05); skin rash/irritation (AOR = 1.7; p<0.05); hearing problems or loss (AOR = 1.7; p<0.05); heartburn (AOR = 1.7; p<0.05); diagnosed stroke (AOR = 5.6; p<0.05); self-reported depression, anxiety, or other emotional problem (AOR = 1.4; p<0.05); and current SPD (AOR = 2.2; p<0.05). … (Morbidity and Mortality WEekly Report, April 7, 2006, Vol. 55, No. SS-2) … Interpretation: Two to three years after September 11, survivors of buildings that collapsed or that were damaged as a result of the WTC attack reported substantial physical and mental health problems. The long-term ramifications of these effects are unknown. Many survivors were caught directly in the dust and debris of collapsing towers, a dense cloud of particulate matter that might have produced or exacerbated these health effects. …(MMWR, April 7, 2006, Vol. 55, No. SS-2)

MARCH

  • Letter from EPA to LMDC: 130 Liberty Strreet … Please understand upon your conclusion of an exceedance of USEPA Site-Specific Trigger Levels, work must stop immediately…. until an evaluation of emission controls is performed and corrective action acceptable to USEPA is in place. … (March 28, 2006)
  • 9/11 ‘Ill Worker’ Outrage … Construction, electrical, telephone and cleanup workers who spent months toiling in the toxic dust and smoke at Ground Zero are now suffering from cancer and lung disease like cops and firefighters but getting the shaft financially, they say. Some of the sick have lost jobs. Others struggle to get by on workers’ compensation, a maximum $400 a week, or Social Security. Many ill laborers don’t have disability benefits or health insurance. … Acker has joined a major class-action suit in Manhattan federal court seeking damages for alleged negligence by the city and state agencies and private companies that called on them to restore utilities, clear debris and get downtown running. The Port Authority and other defendants are fighting to get the suit tossed, claiming immunity because of the 9/11 emergency. Many millions of dollars are at stake. … The ill include Vincent Guastamacchi, 55, a New York Crane operator who got prostate cancer and lung cancer; Anthony Severino, 45, of Malves Equipment, who got leukemia in 2004 and returned to work, but may need a bone-marrow transplant; and Silvia Castillo, 36, a Queens mother of five who cleaned downtown offices with her bare hands, and who now has black lung spots. … (New York Post, By Susan Edelman, March 26, 2006)
  • Worker hurt in 40-ft fall from building … A 20-year-old hardhat survived a 40-foot fall the former Deutsche Bank headquarters undergoing demolition on the edge of Ground Zero. The unidentified man was rushed from the 130 Liberty St. site to St. Vincent’s Hospital Manhattan with a head injury after the 1:15 p.m. accident, officials said. He was in serious condition. … The LMDC purchased the 40story building in 2004 as part of a World Trade Center redevelopment plan. Bovis Lend Lease was awarded a $75 million contract to clean up and dismantle the tower. Work was suspended for the day after yesterday’s accident. The injured worker is employed by the John Galt Corp., a subcontractor hired by Bovis for asbestos cleanup and demolition. He was on a platform when he plunged into a pit below street level. … (NYDaily News, by Greg B. Smith and Robert F. Moore, March 25, 2006)
  • Feds offer 9/11 tests … WASHINGTON – The federal government is finally telling its workers who responded to 9/11 that they can get screened for any ill health effects from their Ground Zero service. The government started the screening in June 2003 but shut it down after examining fewer than 400 federal workers. After stories by the Daily News, the Health and Human Services Department quietly restarted the program in January, but told few people about it. Now, it is finally reaching out. “They contacted us, and they’ve been pretty honest about their progress, or lack thereof,” said Jon Adler, vice president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. “I guess a phone book was hard to come by. “But now that workers are finding out about the screening program, Adler said, the feds still need to figure out what to do when people turn up ill. (New York Daily News, by Michael McAuliff, March 23, 2006)
  • Sad Farewell to Hero EMS MA …. An FDNY paramedic who died of lung cancer after working at Ground Zero was laid to rest in The Bronx yesterday at a service that attracted … She was the third EMS worker to die in the past nine months of a possible 9/11-related illness. … Reeve, who worked at the World Trade Center site about two dozen times over half a year, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in March 2004. Over the next two years, surgeons removed her right lung and part of her diaphragm, and Reeve underwent radiation and chemotherapy. … But in January, Reeve was granted a disability pension from the New York City Employees Retirement System, under the trade-center presumptive bill signed into law last year by Gov. Pataki. The law allows firefighters, police officers and other public employees who were involved in the Ground Zero rescue, recovery or cleanup operations to more easily qualify for disability pensions. … (New York Post, by Erika Martinez .March 21, 2006)
  • Funeral held for EMT worker who died of lung ailment … Friends and family gathered in the Bronx Monday to remember a mother of two who became the third New York City EMT to succumb to a suspected 9/11-related illness in the past year. A 17-year veteran who worked for months at the Ground Zero morgue, 41-year-old Debbie Reeve died from mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer associated with exposure to asbestos. The city denies that her illness is related to 9/11, but her lung ailment is just the sort of illness experts have traced to first responders who spent extended periods near the smoking wreckage of the World Trade Center. … (AM New York, by Michael Clancy, March 21, 2006)
  • Letter from EPA to LMDC: Abatement and Deconstruction of 130 Liberty Street … As you know, it is our view that LMDC is now planning a deconstruction which apparently has significant differences since our review and acceptance of LMDC’s abatment plan last September . Some of those differences include: the construction of a chute for transporting crushed concrete to the ground level; the use of a five-story bufer zone between the abatement and demoltion zones; the use of a reconstructed “floating” roof; and the use of C& D debris as fill on-site These and other changes will of course have an impact on potential releases of contaminants … (March 20, 2006)
  • Paramedic Who Worked at WTC Morgue Dies of Respiratory Illness … A 41-year-old paramedic who worked at a morgue for months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center was buried Monday after dying of an asbestos-related cancer. Deborah Reeve, a 17-year paramedic, died on March 15 of mesothelioma, a lung cancer associated with exposure to asbestos, her family said. Reeve developed a cough in late 2003 and retired at the end of 2004 after becoming too ill to work. Her doctors and family say her cancer was caused by exposure to toxic dust from the World Trade Center site. City health officials say it’s too early to definitively link trade center exposure to respiratory illnesses. A pending lawsuit alleges more than 20 deaths have been linked to ground zero exposure. … (Newsday/Associated Press, March 20, 2006)
  • These greens are still pressing the 9/11 environmental fight … They are residents, workers, union leaders and environmentalists determined to see Lower Manhattan properly cleaned, tested and protected from the World Trade Center dust that blew through the city on Sept. 11. And four and a half years after the dust settled, they’re intensity has only increased. “They are incredibly committed and dedicated individuals,” said New York State Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, who worked closely with the activists while she was an aide to U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler. “The activists, together with the elected officials, have been such a dynamic team. I’m sure the E.P.A. can’t stand it because they don’t let any untruths lie.” … (Downtown Express, by Ronda Kaysen, March 17-23, 2006)
  • Emergency Responder Dies From 9/11-Related Illness … A Bronx EMT died Wednesday, becoming the third emergency responder to die from a 9/11-related illness in the last year. Retired paramedic Deborah Reeve, 41, suffered from mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer typically associated with asbestos exposure. Reeve worked down at the World Trade Center site for several weeks following the terrorist attacks. … A Bronx EMT died Wednesday, becoming the third emergency responder to die from a 9/11-related illness in the last year. Retired paramedic Deborah Reeve, 41, suffered from mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer typically associated with asbestos exposure. Reeve worked down at the World Trade Center site for several weeks following the terrorist attacks. (NY1, March 17, 2006)
  • GROUND ZERO WORKER DIES OF CANCER … A paramedic who died of lung cancer on Wednesday may be recognized under a new law meant to provide increased benefits to responders who became ill working on the World Trade Center site. The paramedic, Deborah Reeve, 40, who worked at ground zero in the months after 9/11, developed a persistent cough, and in late 2003 was told she had mesothelioma, an asbestos-related form of cancer, said her husband, David Reeve. Patrick Bahnken, president of the union local representing emergency medical technicians and paramedics, said that a medical board had approved Ms. Reeve’s benefits under the new law, and that a final determination would be taken up in April.KAREEM FAHIM (NYT, by Kareem Fahim, March 17, 2006)
  • Kin say WTC killed Mom … A retired FDNY paramedic died Wednesday from cancer that her doctor and family insist was linked to her work at the World Trade Center morgue after the 9/11 attacks. Debbie Reeve, 41, died at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx after mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer in her lungs, ravaged her body, leaving her emaciated and unable to walk, her loved ones said yesterday. Reeve, a Bronx mother of two who worked at the Ground Zero morgue for several months, developed the cancer after being exposed to asbestos thrown into the air by the collapsing twin towers, her family and doctor contend. “The only risk factor she has for developing this cancer at such a young age is her exposure to asbestos and other unknown carcinogens while working at the former World Trade Center site,” her doctor, Reynaldo Alonso, wrote in a letter last June. “It is reasonable to state that her exposure at Ground Zero was the cause of her cancer.” … More than 5,000 workers have signed up for a class action lawsuit pending in federal court that accuses officials and contractors of exposing workers to dangerous toxins. … The city rejected her request for workers’ compensation benefits, arguing she failed to provide evidence that her illness was caused by her job. But FDNY Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta declared her death an administrative line of duty death and offered to pay up to $25,000 for her funeral. “The commissioner felt that this was a special circumstance due to 9/11,” said FDNY spokesman Frank Gribbon. Reeve began having breathing problems in late 2003. She was diagnosed with mesothelioma the next year, and the cancer spread throughout her body, her family said. David Reeve charged that the FDNY had repeatedly failed to help his dying wife and refused to allow EMS workers to donate a combined 2-1/2 years of unused sick time to her to help cover her medical bills. … (NYDaily News, by Tony Sclafanii, March 17, 2006)
  • ‘9/11 Cancer’ Kills Bx. EMT … (NYPost, by Ericka Martinez and Andy Geller, March 17, 2006)
  • Critics in “Dust”-Up with Feds … The Environmental Protection Agency’s rules for deciding which lower Manhattan buildings to clean of potentially deadly 9/11 dust are overly strict – and could lead to some toxins being missed, critics charge. The federal EPA is seeking a dust marker, a substance that almost certainly would have come from the World Trade Center attack. Any building found to contain it would be targeted for cleaning. But environmentalists want all dust cleared away from all downtown buildings – unless it can be shown to have come from something other than the Twin Towers’ collapse 4 1/2 years ago. The EPA’s proposed marker is slag wool, an insulation that isn’t dangerous but could signal the presence of asbestos and other toxins. But critics say if slag-wool fibers, bigger than other World Trade Center dust particles, are present, they’ve probably already been cleaned, which could lead testers to underestimate the presence of toxic dust. … (NYPost, by Bill Sanderson, by March 13, 2006)
  • ‘Residents Rip RX-$$ Snub ... Downtown residents are fuming that they have been shut out of new funding to treat those sickened by the toxic air and dust at Ground Zero. Lower Manhattan residents were stunned when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week announced a plan to distribute $75 million to treat sick and injured Ground Zero “responders.” But those who live, go to school and work nearby won’t be eligible. “There was absolutely nothing at all for residents, in terms of screening or treatment – it’s outrageous,” said Catherine McVay Hughes, a mother of two who lives a block east of the World Trade Center site. Nearly all the $75 million is earmarked for cops, firefighters and other rescue and recovery workers who got lung disease and other illnesses. The residents “totally support” new funding for WTC rescuers now ill and dying, but say their own health woes have been “swept under the rug.” “The people of lower Manhattan are in the same boat as the Katrina victims of New Orleans – abandoned,” said John Feal, a demolition supervisor who suffers respiratory disease and lost half a foot when it was crushed at the WTC site. The CDC plan includes $9 million for the city’s WTC Health Registry, but only to collect data on residents and others who signed up years ago. “If you have a problem, it won’t solve your problem. It’s simply a survey,” said Hughes, who runs a 9/11 Web site, asthmamoms.com. “And there’s a huge delay from when the information is gathered to when it’s shared with the public.” Residents say they breathed poisonous air for months after being told it was “safe,” and many developed respiratory, stomach and other ailments. “Four hundred kids walked into the dust cloud and came back to their schools while the fires were still burning,” said Battery Park dad Tom Goodkind, whose daughter Olivia was in kindergarten at PS 89 two blocks from Ground Zero. Goodkind said eight of 24 kids in her fourth-grade class bring inhalers to school. The Department of Education said the school’s asthma rate is a “normal” 3 percent. But a study led by Dr. Anthony Szema found a worsening in asthma suffered by kids living within five miles of Ground Zero. The mother of a boy who attended PS 234 in TriBeCa, which reopened several months after 9/11, said the kids played in a park across the street when they returned, and her first-grader “coughed when he was running around.” “You don’t know what the long-term effects are going to be,” she said. “They got a big dose of whatever was out there.” Wayne Decker, who lived on Duane Street in a 10th-floor apartment, had a lab analyze dust that coated his apartment and hallway. It found high levels of asbestos, lead, mercury, chromium and cadmium. “After a year in that apartment, I couldn’t climb the subway stairs or breathe normally,” said Decker, 55, who has moved to Albuquerque, N.M. He was diagnosed in 2004 with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Dr. Joan Reibman, a researcher at Bellevue Hospital, found a threefold increase in new asthma and other respiratory illnesses among downtown residents after 9/11. Those most exposed got sickest, she reports. Reibman runs a treatment program under a $2.4 million grant from the American Red Cross’ 9/11 fund. So far, it has helped 300 sick residents and day laborers who cleaned dust and debris from downtown offices. “They made New York function again, and some are still seriously ill. They can’t breathe,” Reibman said. (NYPost, by Susan Dedlman and Cathy Burke, March 12, 2006)
  • Agony of 9/11 Toxic Tots … Babies born to women living near the World Trade Center who were pregnant on 9/11 suffered more genetic damage than other city infants – and could be at higher risk for cancer later in life, New York researchers say. About half the babies born to 329 nonsmoking women living close to Ground Zero had DNA with significant levels of combustion-related toxins, “which have the potential to damage development and increase risk of cancer,” a lead investigator told The Post. “The chemical pollutants crossed the placenta and bound to the DNA, leaving their fingerprint of exposure,” said Dr. Frederica Perera, director of Columbia University’s Center for Children’s Environmental Health. “This is a signal of genetic damage from exposure to these contaminants.” The dangerous polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, were found in umbilical-cord blood obtained when the women gave birth at four lower Manhattan hospitals, Perera said.These WTC babies showed “slightly more” genetic damage from PAHs than a control group of 730 infants born in upper Manhattan and The Bronx, the study found. While the DNA damage does not ensure that kids will become sick, develop cancer or have learning problems, Perera said, “It does raise possible concerns about later developmental or health effects.” Genetic damage from PAHs has been linked in other research to a higher risk of cancer in adulthood, especially among cigarette smokers. If not repaired by enzyme systems in the body, the harm “can be locked in – in the form of a mutation,” Perera said. The WTC babies were born to women, pregnant on 9/11, who lived downtown or gave birth there. The WTC babies also weighed less and had smaller head sizes at birth, characteristics found in other babies born to mothers exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke, a previous study found. PAHs are found in urban air from traffic and heating sources, but the WTC fires burned about four months, releasing tons of smoldering chemicals into the air. Scientists from the University of North Carolina and the EPA who monitored PAHs at Ground Zero from Sept. 23, 2001, to March 27, 2002, found levels up to 65 times higher than normal. The Columbia team is tracking the health and growth of the 329 WTC kids, now about 4 years old, testing them each year and comparing them to the about 730 children in the upper-Manhattan and Bronx control group. The team has not made any conclusions about their development, Perera said. (NYPost, by Susan Edelman, March 12, 2006)
  • Downtown Moms Fear for Their ‘Cancerous’ Kids … Dinella Ascenso agonized as her little boy, born two weeks after 9/11, repeatedly became sick with a hacking cough during his first two years of life. “It wasn’t normal,” said the 30-year-old chef instructor, who lives four blocks from Ground Zero. “I totally accredit it to Sept. 11,” she added. “They cannot possibly tell us the air we were breathing was safe. Think of what was in there . . . All you smelled for months was dead skin, like a finger getting burned by a match. How can that be safe?” Ascenso is one of a group of lower Manhattan moms, pregnant on 9/11, who live in fear of the health ramifications of the terrorist attacks. One miscarried right after 9/11. Another said her son has never been healthy. And even those whose children have not developed significant illnesses wonder how long that will be the case. Studies have shown low birth weights and smaller head circumferences among these babies. Now The Post has learned that researchers discovered genetic damage that may make these children more prone to illnesses and cancer. Ascenso said her son, Lucian, now 4, was sick “at least two dozen times in his first two years of life” with a rattling cough that “really had us worried.” She says she would like to move but can’t afford to. And she continues to fret, even though Lucian appears healthy. “I’m really not shocked. Even now, the air around here is different.” Meike Ziegler, 36, miscarried four months after Sept. 11. She was three months pregnant and living in SoHo during the attacks, and felt horrible cramps about a week afterward. She claims the fetus “stopped growing . . . The more I hear about what was in the air and babies born then, the more I believe it was all connected.” Ziegler left the country after her ordeal. A lower Manhattan mom who didn’t want to be identified said she’s trying to stay positive and doesn’t want to leave her hometown, but is “really scared” about her 4-year-old son’s health problems, which include asthma and severe allergies. “None of that runs in my family,” said the woman, who gave birth to her son shortly after 9/11. “I was blocks away from Ground Zero for weeks while I was pregnant with him. From the minute he was born, there were problems.” She said her son wheezed often and had problems breathing. “He’s feeling better now, but I don’t know what was in that air,” she said. “I don’t know if he’s going to develop other problems as he gets older. The whole thing is very scary.” Casting director Jill Strickman, who gave birth to Oliver in December 2001 and still lives about 10 blocks from Ground Zero, is also nervous that there will be a lasting impact from the toxins released by the lingering inferno of the World Trade Center. Oliver has asthma, she said, but she has dismissed it somewhat because it runs in the family. “He’s a very healthy boy,” she said. “I try not to be an alarmist.” She added: “In terms of the cancer, that does concern me.” She said she wants to know “if there’s something I can be doing to protect him.” Strickman said she would have left New York right after 9/11 had she known the air wasn’t safe. “Especially because I was pregnant,” she said. “But the EPA said it was safe. We had no way of knowing.” (NYPost, by Angela Mentefinise, March 12, 2006)
  • WTC construction to begin Monday … Starting Monday, preliminary work is to begin on the memorial, and demolition will start on the Deutsche Bank building at 130 Liberty St. after it is decontaminated floor by floor. … (Newsday, By Melanie Lefkowitz, March 12, 2006)
  • The Lingering Hurt ... There’s a bumper sticker you still see a lot in New York, on fire trucks and construction workers’ pickups and everyday automobiles: All Gave Some, Some Gave All. Nearly five years on, some are still giving, and 9/11 is still taking its toll. In the devastating aftermath of that terrible day, we drew strength from the images and words of those who kept giving blood, sweat and tears at Ground Zero. The federal government has taken a step to help those who suffer still. And it is up to each and every one of us to make sure that they are not forgotten. (Reno Gazette-Journal, 3/10/06)
  • Money For Ground Zero Workers’ Treatment ... For the first time, the federal government is financing health care treatments for thousands of firefighters, police officers and other first responders sickened by their work at ground zero in the weeks after the attack on the twin towers. The Bush administration announced yesterday how it will disburse $75 million in health care funds it had attempted to rescind until members of New York’s Congressional delegation objected. The money will go to several screening and treatment programs, including one at Mount Sinai Medical Center that has examined more than 10,000 workers and ground zero volunteers. The money will also help finance the Fire Department’s medical treatment program, a Police Department mental health program and the city department of health’s World Trade Center Health Registry. (NYTimes, by Anthony DePalma, New York Times, March 9, 2006)
  • Finally, $75M of Sept. 11 health fund is dished out … The funds are part of the $20 billion in reconstruction aid promised by President Bush in the days after the terror attacks. The health care money was eliminated by Bush in his 2006 budget, but was reinstated after a bipartisan group of New York lawmakers complained. … (NYDailyNews, by Dave Goldiner, March 9, 2006)
  • $75M Fund to Treat 9/11 Cops & Firemen … Brave cops and firefighters who are still suffering from the health effects of working at Ground Zero after 9/11 can get treatment thanks to $75 million in new federal money announced yesterday. … (NYPost, by Geoff Earle, March 9, 2006)
  • DC 37 applauds release of first $75 million in federal money for treatment of 9/11 injured workers: Union let the fight after Bush threatened to recall the money.DC 37 lost two EMTs who died from 9/11 lung disease; other members are ill and need treatment. … (DC31, News Release, March 9, 2006)
  • Feds announce distribution of Sept. 11 health aid … The money originally was part of a federal aid package aimed at paying workers compensation claims, but after the money went unspent Congress tried to take it back. That set off a fight with New York lawmakers, who got separate legislation passed restoring the funding and directing it toward health programs.The money will be distributed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. … (Newsday/AP, March 8, 2006)
  • First Federal Money for 9/11 Health Treatment Announced: New Federal Plan to Distribute $75 Million for 9/11 Injured Responders … Washington, DC – The Centers for Disease Control’s plan to distribute $75 million for sick and injured 9/11 responders has been unveiled. Among the funds is the first-ever federal money spent on medical treatment for 9/11 health effects. The money is part of the $125 million that the New York Congressional delegation fought hard to save after the administration announced plans to rescind the money last year. The $75 million will be distributed as follows: Medical treatment programs: World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program – $26,825,000; FDNY WTC Medical Screening and Treatment Program – $26,825,000; Screening Programs (administered by WTC and FDNY programs) – $7,850,000; Project COPE (mental health program for NYPD) – $3,000,000; POPPA (Police Organization Providing Peer Assistance) – $1,500,000; The World Trade Center Health Registry – $9,000,000; Total – $75,000,000 …. Rep. Vito Fossella (NY), Senators Hillary Clinton (NY) and Charles Schumer (NY) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY) helped lead the effort to save the 9/11 responder funds and to ensure that the money is spent on medical monitoring and treatment. Today, they reacted to the distribution plan announced by the Centers for Disease Control of $75 million appropriated for programs that administer baseline and follow-up screening, clinical examinations, or long-term medical health monitoring, analysis or treatment for emergency services personnel or rescue and recovery personnel. This funding was part of $125 million that the Bush Administration rescinded in last year’s budget. The remaining $50 million was distributed to the New York State Uninsured Employers Fund for reimbursement of claims related to the September 11, 2001 attacks. (News Release, March 8, 2006)
  • Statement by Mayor Bloomberg On $75 Million in Federal 9/11 Health Assistance … “I am proud of New York’s Congressional Delegation and the City’s long and successful campaign for this funding. This bi-partisan coalition fought for $75 million to help first responders who aided in the rescue, recovery and clean-up of the World Trade Center Site. New York will use this money for monitoring and treatment of uniformed and non-uniformed first responders, mental health programs and the World Trade Center Health Registry. I particularly want to thank Senators Clinton and Schumer and Representatives Fossella and Maloney for their commitment to provide the needed funds to New York to recover and rebuild after September 11th.” (Press Release, Office of Mayor Bloomberg March 8, 2006)
  • Feds Announce Distribution of Sept. 11 Health Aid … WASHINGTON — Federal authorities on Wednesday announced how they would distribute $75 million for post-Sept. 11 health aid and research, money that was the subject of a yearlong tug-of-war between budget cutters and New York lawmakers. Almost $27 million will go to a monitoring and treatment program for ground zero workers, and an equal amount is for a program run by the Fire Department of New York for treatment of its firefighters. Some $3 million goes to a counseling program for police officers, and $9 million goes to the World Trade Center Health Registry, a survey of those directly exposed to the collapse of the twin towers and other events of Sept. 11, 2001. The money originally was part of a federal aid package aimed at paying workers compensation claims, but after the money went unspent Congress tried to take it back. That set off a fight with New York lawmakers, who got separate legislation passed restoring the funding and directing it toward health programs. The money will be distributed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. … (Associated Press, March 8, 2006)
  • EPA skips Council hearing to discuss cleanup plan … A City Council hearing on the post-9/11 cleanup of Lower Manhattan lasted well over three hours and included testimony from everyone from city commissioners to elected officials to local residents. The only voice notably absent was the agency at the center of the discussions — the Environmental Protection Agency. The E.P.A., whose latest testing and cleanup plan for Lower Manhattan residences was criticized when it was unveiled last November, declined to attend the hearing. “We had advised the E.P.A. to testify, to explain what is going on and to shed light on matters of life and health to our community,” said City Councilmember Alan Gerson, chairperson of the Select Committee on Lower Manhattan Redevelopment, at the start of the hearing. “I am extraordinarily disappointed in their decision.” … Gerson introduced a resolution to the City Council Wednesday rejecting the agency’s cleanup plan as “flawed by omission and flawed by commission.” The two agencies that did testify — the city Department of Health and the city Department of Environmental Protection — at the Feb. 27 hearing both expressed criticism of the federal agency. “Our concerns [about health risks] have been there from day one,” said D.E.P. deputy commissioner Robert Avaltroni. “We’re disappointed the E.P.A. is not here as well.” City apartments and offices might still be contaminated with toxic dust four and half years after 9/11, according to Dr. Jessica Leighton, a deputy commissioner for environmental health at the Dept. of Health. “Is there still dust around,” she asked. “I can’t say for sure. Is that dust going to be breathed by people? I can’t say for sure.” … (Downtown Express, by Ronda Kaysen, March 3-9, 2006)
  • World Cares Holds WTC Health Week to Help Those Affected By 9/11 … Nearly five years after the September 11th attacks, health and environmental concerns continue to grow. In the following report, NY1 Health Reporter Kafi Drexel takes a look at a group that’s spending this week trying to put a spotlight on those concerns. They call it World Trade Center Health Week. The group World Cares has helped hundreds of rescue workers, volunteers and community members since 9/11. Now, through a series of panel discussions and demonstrations, they’re trying to draw attention to the ongoing environmental and health concerns. … (NY1, March 6, 2006)
  • Ease Path for EMS: Deadline Near for 9/11 Disability Aid … Rescue workers who were injured, became sick or died during or after the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center site are being urged by the city to file a claim for funds available under the 9/11 Heroes Stamp Act. The Act raised $10.5 million in aid by selling a limited edition 9/11 Heroes stamp featuring the image of three firefighters planting an American flag in the rubble of the Twin Towers. Fund Run by Feds: The fund, administered jointly by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Fire Administration, is now accepting applications from eligible workers or their families. Al Conners, project manager for USFA, said all of the funds received from the Postal Service would be distributed equally among applicants. The FDNY, along with other city law-enforcement and first-responder agencies, has been alerting its membership about the fund, but hit a paperwork snag with its Emergency Medical Service Bureau. In a holdover from its days as a separate entity, the EMS Bureau’s disability and pension are handled by the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, not the Fire Pension Fund. While firefighters are entitled to unlimited sick leave, EMS employees must file Workers’ Compensation claims to be paid while out injured or otherwise disabled unless they use their leave balances. …Doubts About NYCERS: The Act doesn’t stipulate that a rescue worker be awarded a disability pension before being able to apply for additional funds. Workers drawing Social Security or Workers’ Compensation can apply, but their employer must still write on the application that they are disabled. With some EMS cases being controverted, and others still pending, Local 3621 feared NYCERS would be reluctant to acknowledge a disability on some applications. …(The Chief, by Ginger Adams Otis, March 3, 2006)
  • Residents and Workers Want to Meet With 9/11 Health Czar … New Yorkers claiming illness from 9/11-related exposures to toxic smoke and dust want Dr. John Howard, the newly appointed federal 9/11 health czar for a federally funded comprehensive program to track and treat emergent 9/11-related illnesses in the community, to come to New York City and meet with sick residents and workers, environmental medicine experts and community advocates. … (Homeland Response, By Sandy Smith, March 3, 2006)
  • 9/11 Presumption Bill in the Works … In response to a series of reports on Millennium Radio, legislation is now being drafted in Trenton that would provide health benefits to New Jersey 9/11 recovery workers if they become seriously ill as a result of having worked in the polluted air at Ground Zero and the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island. The bill would offer such workers the presumption that their illness, whether it be respiratory, pulmonary, cardiovascular, or cancer, for instance, was caused by the polluted air that hovered above Lower Manhattan. At a private meeting attended by union heads and Millennium Radio, Woodbridge State Senator Joe Vitale (D) began wading through what will be a monumental task: figuring out how many New Jerseyans may be eligible and how to cover them. Vitale would like to model his legislation after a similar presumption law in New York, but avoid its loopholes. The New York law only covers public employees who were at the site for at least 40 hours, unless an injury on 9/11 or 9/12 limited them to a shorter period of time. For starters, Vitale and the police and fire unions would like to figure out how exactly how many New Jerseyans spent time at the site. “Well, we really don’t. We know that there were thousands of them. Some will come forward, some will not. Some will get sick, some will not. Some will get sick and some will not. Potentially, we could have a registry as well,” says the State Senator. “We really don’t know, but we are fortunate to have the New York model at least from which to work. We know that thousands and thousands of men and women volunteered, were paid to go, or just responded or otherwise.” As Millennium Radio first reported in January, at least three New Jerseyans have died from illnesses believed to be directly related to their work at Ground Zero in the days after the attacks. …. (NJ 101.5FM radio, March 3, 2006)
  • Editorial: Just what the doctor ordered … The federal government has taken a promising, long-overdue step toward addressing the serious health concerns shared by thousands of people who were exposed to the toxins released at Ground Zero with the collapse of the World Trade Center. Dr. John Howard, head of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, is stepping in to coordinate efforts to track and treat illnesses that appear to have been caused by exposure to the smoldering pile of rubble. In doing so, Howard can eliminate a vacuum that has allowed misinformation and even medical quackery to spread unchecked. Many of those who worked at Ground Zero or lived nearby after the terror attack suffer from lung ailments, including what’s known as World Trade Center cough, according to doctors affiliated with separate 9/11-related health programs run by the Fire Department and Mount Sinai Medical Center. Families of some first responders also believe toxic exposure has led to more serious diseases and caused at least three deaths. Meanwhile, medical experts say many doctors don’t know how to treat patients who breathed the noxious air, and some patients have turned to potentially dangerous blood-cleansing treatments. No one is sure how many people are going without proper care because they lack health coverage. … Howard was also spot-on in saying the federal government will have to make sure people with World Trade Center-related illnesses get proper treatment. … (NYDaily News, March 2, 2006)
    Meet Dr. Howeard, New 9-11 Health Czar … (WNYC, by Amy Eddings, March 2, 2006)
    President Bush names Tim Oppelt Acting Assistant Administrator for ORD … (EPA News Release, March 2, 2006)
  • EPA to Get a Scolding on 9/11 Dust... The City Council is poised to reject the federal government’s latest effort to clean apartments contaminated by dust from the collapse of the twin towers, calling the plan “technically and scientifically flawed.” In a resolution scheduled to be introduced today, the Council will join community groups, labor unions and the city’s Congressional delegation in condemning the way the Environmental Protection Agency has handled environmental and health issues resulting from the destruction of the World Trade Center. “We will never successfully rebuild Lower Manhattan until we can all be assured that we have successfully cleaned up Lower Manhattan,” said Councilman Alan Jay Gerson, chairman of the Committee on Lower Manhattan Redevelopment, which held its first hearing Monday. The resolution urges the federal agency to devise a new sampling and cleanup plan that includes both residences and workplaces in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. The E.P.A. declined to testify at the committee hearing. But in an interview yesterday, Alan J. Steinberg, regional administrator, said the plan was based on sound science. But he said the agency was re-examining a proposal rejected by independent scientists last year to use a specific substance — a type of insulation called slag wool that was used in the towers — as a marker to indicate the presence of trade center dust. The results of that analysis should be completed early next month, he said.The Council has no authority over the federal agency, but a resolution criticizing the cleanup plan would underscore growing dissatisfaction with federal efforts. Various cleanups have been undertaken since 9/11, but they have not calmed concerns about the effect of asbestos, lead, mercury and other dangerous substances from the towers. … The city’s own legal liability is great. Hundreds of firefighters, police officers and sanitation workers have claims against the city because they say their *health was jeopardized by their work at ground zero. (NYTimes, by Anthony DePalma, March 1, 2006)
  • Letter: Abatement and Deconstruction Activities at 130 Liberty Street … The regulators request that LMDC and its contractors and subcontractors provide a detailed presentation addressing who is going to be conducting the abatement and demolition, and how it will be performed, and the nature of any modificiations to LMDC’s approved Deconstruction Plan … (March 1, 2006)
  • NEW YORK SINUS CENTER: Some days it seems everyone has a sinus infection. “We have seen an increase in respiratory and sinus disease since 9/11,” says Dr. Jordan Stern, one of the otolaryngologists heading up the downtown New York Sinus Center division “We are working with other specialists to obtain data on such increases.” Before September 11, 2001, the New York Sinus Center, a division of the New York Otolaryngology Group whose main offices are on 36th Street, had a downtown office for diagnosis and treatment. They considered not returning but at the urging of downtown residents and employees who frequented the office they returned on November 15. “For now we are sharing space with another medical group but we hope to expand shortly and be bigger and better than before September 11,” said Martin Berman, the group’s executive director. Information on nasal cleansing to minimize response to irritating pollutants can be found on the group’s website, www.nysinuscenter.com. Also of interest is the relationship between sinusitis and gastric reflux, a subject the center studied. Their report will soon be published in ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) Journal. Whether caused by environmental factors or lingering stomach distress, Dr. Stern stresses, “anyone who suspects that they have developed sinusitis or other respiratory symptoms should see their doctor.” New York Sinus Center, 212 285-3807, 150 Broadway; [email protected] (BPC Broadsheet, February 28-March 15, 2006)
  • PROPOSED LEGISLATION TO TRANSFER WTC MATERIAL OUT OF LANDFILL GAINS STRENGTH VOTEWILL SOONCOME TO THE ASSEMBLY FLOOR: “Final Resting Place” could be lower manhattan …. There are more than 1.4 million tons of debris from the World Trade Center site in the Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island, the equivalent of 92,000 truck loads. Despite this, there is a movement in the New York and New Jersey state legislatures to take the material out of the landfill and possibly return it to the place of its origin. Believing that there are human remains in the material, Rockland County Assemblyman Ryan Karben, a Democrat, and Sen. Thomas Morahan, a Republican also of Rockland County, co-sponsored a bill that would transfer the material from the landfill to a “suitable site,” to properly honor the victims. However, repeated tests performed before and after the remains were moved, have not shown there to be human remains in the material. Meanwhile, the unidentified remains of 1,200 victims are being kept by the Medical Examiner’s Office. If the bill passes, the destination for the remains would be decided upon by the governors of New York and New Jersey. Introduced on February 6th, the bill is currently in its third reading and is expected to reach the floor soon. Previous versions of the bill have been introduced, and while they have always passed in the senate, they have lacked the votes to move out of the assembly. … Downtown support for the move is low. David Stanke, co-director of BPCUnited, commented “Everything possible has been done to remove remains from WTC debris. What’s left at Fresh Kills is the hope of finding something that doesn’t exist. The impact and cost of moving 1.4 million tons of toxic debris to an active neigh-borhood is not realistic and not necessary as a symbolic gesture”. Martin Connor, Lower Manhattan’s representative in the state senate, has voted against the bill each time it went to the floor. Speaking through his aide, Matt Viggiano, Sen. Connor said he was “not going to vote for it ever,” at the same time expressing a desire “to see a memorial that takes into account the needs and wishes of the families but also follows the guidelines of the community board.” There is also a worry that some of the material may still be contaminated. Many Community Board members were adamant in not wanting to risk the environmental or health safety of a neighborhood with many schools and residences. The reason Sen. Connor voted against the bill each time it went to the floor, according to Mr. Viggiano, was because of such health concerns. Last month, NYPD Detective James Zadroga died of brain and respiratory problems that are widely believed to have been caused by asbestos and other toxins or contaminents at the site. Others who worked there have suffered illnesses that they claim were caused by hazardous material. Many believe there is simply not enough room on the memorial site, a reason cited by Mayor Bloomberg last October. If the legislation passes, it will be the responsibility of the Port Authority to move the material, at an estimated cost of $80 million. Port Authority spokesperson Steven Coleman said, “We are watching the legislation to see where it goes. We have no plans at this time. (BPC Broadsheet, by Ryan Vlastelica, February 28-March15, 2006)

FEBRUARY

  • GAO: September 11: Monitoring of World Trade Center Health Effects Has Progressed, but Program for Federal Responders Lags Behind … (United States Government Accountability Office, February 28, 2006)
  • WTC Dust May Still Be A RISK … A top city health official couldn’t offer assurances yesterday that dust remaining from the World Trade Center attack isn’t a threat to residents of lower Manhattan. Asked at a City Council hearing, “Is the threat over?” Dr. Jessica Leighton, a deputy commissioner for environmental health at the city’s Health Department, responded, “The issue with exposures — the more you have, the more you’re affected. “Is there still dust around? I can’t say for sure. Is that dust going to be breathed by people? I can’t say for sure.” (NYPOST, by David Seifman, February 28, 2006)
  • Council, experts: WTC dust plan weak … CITY HALL — The City Council is calling upon the Environmental Protection Agency to return to the drawing board to expand its plan to clean up World Trade Center-related toxic dust still lingering nearly five years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. City Councilman Alan Gerson, who represents Lower Manhattan, plans to introduce a resolution tomorrow, he told the residents, scientists and elected officials who testified on what they considered a flawed EPA plan yesterday. The group called on the EPA to expand the current testing of residences south of Canal Street to include workplaces and parts of Brooklyn. EPA officials declined City Council’s invitation to attend the hearing. “The EPA failed, and continues to fail, to develop and implement a comprehensive and systematic testing and cleanup program that meets federal standards to rid Lower Manhattan and surrounding areas of WTC contamination,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who represents Lower Manhattan. Nadler said the city could put pressure on the EPA in several ways. The city could initiate legal action or join the existing class action lawsuit brought on by residents, students and workers in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn charging top EPA officials, including former administrator Christine Todd Whitman, with making statements that knowingly placed people in the path of contamination. Decision: The scientists who served on the EPA’s WTC Expert Review Panel did not approve of the final EPA plan. (Metro NY, Feb. 28, 2006)
  • New York uncertain of WTC dust danger … It’s not known if dust from the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center attack still threatens lower Manhattan residents, a New York City health official said. “The issue with exposures — the more you have, the more you’re affected,” Deputy Commissioner Jessica Leighton responded when asked at a City Council meeting if the dust health threat is over, the New York Post reported. “Is there still dust around? I can’t say for sure. Is that dust going to be breathed by people? I can’t say for sure,” Leighton said. Separately, a federal judge has approved class-action status for a 2004 lawsuit filed by New York residents against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on grounds it misled the public when it said Ground Zero was safe for residents and workers to return to. Critics have accused the EPA of rushing to reopen the New York Stock Exchange. Critics also have said the Bush administration wanted to avoid spending billions to clean people’s homes, the report said. (UPI, Feb. 28, 2006)
  • Feds restart Ground Zero health program ... WASHINGTON – A now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t effort to monitor 10,000 federal workers who put in time at Ground Zero has quietly reemerged, the Daily News has learned. The program started in June 2003, but shut down after doing medical exams on just 394 people in six months.Now the program is back in operation, but it has identified just 1,700 workers to participate. Critics say there has been scant notification to eligible federal workers. “It’s like they said let’s put a Post-it note on a turtle and then sit back and say we did our duty,” said Jon Adler, the national executive vice president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. The program was funded with $3.74 million, about $200,000 of which was spent by the Health and Human Services Department on the first exams. Since then, an additional $500,000 has been spent building the list, which includes less than a fifth of those federal workers who responded after the terror attacks on the World Trade Center. “We waited more than four years for this?” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan), who announced yesterday that the government is appointing a point man for 9/11 health issues in hopes of doing better. A spokesman for Health and Human Services said the agency restarted signing up workers in December, and has done 202 exams since Jan. 13. An additional 128 people have asked for tests. The Daily News reported in August that the program had vanished, leaving federal workers no systematic way to monitor health ills from the toxic debris of the twin towers. Maloney and others say it’s good that the federal program has resurfaced, but noted it only offers a one-time screening. “If you are actually sick, all they can do for you is tell you to go and see your doctor,” Maloney said. (NYDailyNews, by Michael McAuliff, Feb. 28, 2006)
  • Doctors: Long-Term post-Sept 11 health monitoring needed ... At least $320 million is needed to maintain current health programs monitoring Sept. 11 health effects, said Dr. Stephen M. Levin, co-director of the World Trade Center Work and Volunteer Screening Program, which monitors about 14,000 ground zero workers. “We are much more interested in trying to intervene so people’s health can be protected and improved,” Levin said. … Dr. John Howard, who was named Monday as the Sept. 11 health coordinator for the federal government, said his first priority would be developing a plan to make sure anyone with a Sept. 11-related illness can get treatment. … Ronaldo Vega, an architect employed by the city of New York, said he doubted he would live another 10 years. Vega volunteered for 10 months at ground zero. “I have no doubt that the toxins in my body will eventually kill me,” Vega said. “Working at ground zero was indeed worth dying for. When the next attack occurs, whether we’re healthy enough to answer the call to help is up to you. All I can ask of you is to give us one more breath.” .(Newsday, by Donna De La Cruz, Feb. 28, 2006)
  • Bush appoints doctor to oversee health of Ground Zero workers ... WASHINGTON — Bowing to the wishes of New York’s congressional delegation, the Bush administration has appointed a 9/11 health czar to coordinate the screening and treatment of the rescue personnel who were exposed to toxic fumes at Ground Zero. … Leavitt’s move was good news for Thomas Byrne, a police officer from Tottenville who visited Ground Zero almost nightly for five months after Sept. 11, 2001, to help in the cleanup effort and look for the remains of his brother Patrick, a firefighter. PHYSICIAN AND ATTORNEY: “I am glad to hear it,” said Byrne. “Everybody I know who was down there has complained about something.” Byrne said he came away with a cut leg that is still discolored, a recurring deep cough and occasional bouts of severe laryngitis that render him barely able to speak for weeks at a time. “I sound like Al Pacino and Marlon Brando,” he said. …(Staten Island Advance, by Terence J. Kivlan, Feb. 28, 2006)
  • Bush Appoints Doctor to Oversee Health of Ground Zero Workers: 9/11 Health Czar Will Coordinate Screening, Treatment of Rescuers Exposed to Toxic Fumes … Bowing to the wishes of New York’s congressional delegation, the Bush administration has appointed a 9/11 health czar to coordinate the screening and treatment of the rescue personnel who were exposed to toxic fumes at Ground Zero. … (Staten Island Advance, by Terence J. Kivlan, February 28, 2006)
  • Reps Rossella & Maloney Announce Appointment of 9/11 Health Coordinator to OVersee Feds’ Response to Ground Zero Health Impacts: Dr. John Howard will be charged with ensuring New Yorkers impacted by 9/11 get access to meical care, monitoring programs & other information … WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Vito Fossella (R-NY13) and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY14) today announced the appointment of Dr. John Howard, Director of the federal National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), to serve as the federal government’s coordinator to oversee the response to Ground Zero health impacts. The lawmakers called for the appointment of a 9/11 health coordinator on January 25th and have been working with federal Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Michael Leavitt since then to have a seasoned health professional assume control for overseeing the monitoring and treatment of those who are injured or sick. …. The lawmakers said Dr. Howard’s first order of business must be ensuring that an exhaustive medical screening and monitoring program encompassing a large pool of responders and residents is operational. Dr. Howard’s other responsibilities would include (but are not limited to): Overseeing the distribution of federal funding for programs administered through NIOSH to enhance medical screening and monitoring programs; Ensuring that appropriated federal dollars are dedicated to treatment, and Bringing together the collective talents of the medical and scientific communities to help develop a plan to help all those who are ill from 9/11. … (News Release, February 27, 2006)
  • Health coordinator named to oversee Sept. 11 health impacts … The head of the federal agency responsible for preventing work-related injuries and illnesses was named Monday to oversee the response to Sept. 11 health impacts at ground zero. … Ground zero health advocates have long argued that the full scope of illnesses from toxic debris and dust will take years to fully develop, even though doctors caution it will be very difficult to prove the hazards caused specific deaths.NIOSH is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Newsday, by Donna De La Cruz, , February 27, 2006)
  • Federal Monitor Named To Oversee Health Of 9/11 First Responders … There’s now someone at the federal level fighting for those left ill by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center site. … anhattan Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Congressman Vito Fosella of Staten Island appealed for the position after three first responders died last year, and another passed away in January.It’s believed that tens of thousands of first responders, federal employees and Lower Manhattan residents suffer from health problems from exposure to toxins at or near the World Trade Center site. (NY1, February 27, 2006)
  • Shays Panel to Examine Public Health Response to 9/11 Attacks … Congressman Christopher Shays (R-CT), Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations today announced the Subcommittee will convene an oversight hearing to assess efforts to address public health effects of the 9/11 attacks. The hearing, entitled Progress Since 9/11: Protecting Public Health and Safety Against Terrorist Attack, will take place on Tuesday, February 28, 2006, at 2:00 p.m. in room 2154 Rayburn House Office Building … “Thousands of responders, employees and residents worked and lived in the toxic soup around Ground Zero following 9/11,” Maloney added. “We need to know why those that are sick from their exposure to ground zero aren’t getting the medical monitoring and treatment that they need and deserve.” (News Release, February 22, 2006)
  • Truth Out: Sick of being lied to by the EPA, 9-11 plaintiffs use the courts to force the answers they seek … Jenna Orkin doesn’t expect to hear her truth about 9-11 unless someone forces the officials involved to tell it. For her, as for so many people downtown and in Brooklyn, 9-11 meant clouds of ash and smoke engulfing her apartment building, filtering down the halls of her son’s Tribeca high school. …. In her 83-page ruling, Judge Batts found enough evidence for the case to proceed. She not only denied the EPA’s motion to dismiss it, but refused to grant Whitman immunity. On the contrary, she scolded the former EPA head, declaring her statements so “deliberate and misleading” they “shock the conscience.” “No argument can be made that Whitman could not have understood from existing law that her conduct was unlawful,” Batts wrote. … (Village Voice, February 21, 2006)
  • Unhealthy Air After 9/11 … It is now almost four and half years since we were wrongly told that the air around ground zero was safe when it wasn’t, leaving thousands exposed to asbestos, lead, pulverized glass and other carcinogens. The administration still doesn’t have anyone in charge of the federal government’s response to the health issues of 9/11. While it has been documented that thousands were injured by 9/11 and are still suffering, the federal government has yet to spend a single dollar on health treatment. Medical monitoring for New York State employees has ceased. The program for federal employees was shut down after screening only 400 out of as many as 10,000 F.B.I., Secret Service and other federal employees who worked at ground zero. No federally financed health screening is being provided to area residents, workers or schoolchildren exposed to the toxins. The programs to monitor the health of first responders, created over the administration’s objections, don’t have the resources to meet the needs of injured workers — and the administration knows it. … (NYTimes, letter by Congressmember Maloney,February 21, 2006)
  • Ground Zero’s No. 1 … Lower Manhattan’s $10 billion man has taken charge. His name is Charles Maikish, and his title is executive director of the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center. In plain language, that means he has to make sure an army of up to 15,000 hardhats with hundreds of pieces of heavy equipment at dozens of sites south of Canal St. stay out of each other’s way as they rebuild lower Manhattan. That’s $10 billion in construction over the next few years, including Ground Zero. … Will lead army of hardhats … The key for Maikish, who was appointed by Gov. Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg a year ago, is to stay in contact with the builders and agencies behind all that manpower and machinery to make sure they don’t get at cross purposes. He will do that from the Construction Command Center at 1 Liberty Plaza, where a staff of 13 is already on the job. It will grow to 22 by the end of this year and eventually to 80 or more. Maikish, 59, who joined the new agency from JPMorgan Chase, previously had been the Port Authority’s director in charge of the twin towers during the 1993 bombing and reconstruction. (NYDailynews, by Paul D. Colford, February 21, 2006)
  • Doctors Look For Link Between 9/11 Recovery Work And Heart Disease … Doctors are reportedly tracking September 11th rescue workers to see if the air at the site can be the cause of severe health issues beyond lung disease and cancer. According to The New York Post, doctors are seeing a growing number of heart attacks and heart related deaths among first responders and construction workers who spent time at the World Trade Center site after the terror attacks. Traces of Mercury and Benzene were found in the air at the site, but the EPA had deemed the air safe to breathe days after the attacks. A class action suit filed on behalf of September 11th rescue workers argues at least 24 people have died as a result of toxins in the air. (NY1, February 19, 2006)
  • Clear the air on 9/11 health … Distraught family members talk of black-lung disease and of brains being destroyed by mercury poisoning. Some have endorsed rare medical procedures for identifying infections and leaching heavy metals from the body. Trouble is, occupational and environmental health experts say these conclusions are likely wrong, and the proposed treatments can be dangerous. Making matters worse, the experts say, many private physicians aren’t up to speed on recognizing or treating illnesses triggered by toxic exposure. Dr. Stephen Levin, co-director of Mount Sinai Medical Center’s World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program – which tracks the health of about 25,000 people exposed to Ground Zero – says his patients include asthma sufferers whose doctors didn’t know how to treat what amounted to chemical burns in their lungs. He also says some physicians have leaped to conclusions about the presence of harmful mercury because they ordered blood tests rather than urine tests. Proper screening has found no exposure to heavy metals, including mercury, say Levin and Fire Department doctors. Along with Mount Sinai, the Fire and Health departments are monitoring the effects of 9/11 toxins, including such respiratory ills as World Trade Center cough. Dr. David Prezant, head of the FDNY program, says his doctors see a trend toward improved health among their patients; Mount Sinai has not seen similar healing. Meanwhile, the Health Department is largely in the dark. … The department is perfectly suited to report publicly on patterns of illness, to analyze autopsies performed on first-responders who die, as it now must, and to issue advisories to physicians about the best treatments for various ailments. The city owes as much to everyone who was exposed to toxins because of the terror attack. … (NYDaily News, 2/19/06)
  • SEPT. 11 TOXIC HEART SHOCK … Doctors tracking 9/11 rescue and recovery workers are studying whether the toxic air at the World Trade Center caused not only lung disease and possibly cancer — but also heart attacks, The Post has learned. The death toll of the Ground Zero heroes — firefighters, cops, EMTs, construction workers, immigrant laborers and others — is climbing, and a growing number are dying of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease. … Doctors monitoring 13,000 WTC workers are investigating a possible link between the heart problems and the respiratory ailments so common among the tens of thousands of Ground Zero workers and nearby residents. “There is an increased risk of heart problems from lung disease,” said Dr. Stephen Levin, of the WTC medical monitoring program at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan. … “There is also evidence that people exposed to micro-fine particles —which was certainly the case at the World Trade Center — are at increased risk for heart disease.” Researchers will soon consult top cardiologists on possible blood tests to detect the hidden danger, Levin told The Post. The new focus comes two weeks after James Doyle, 54, a retired transit worker from Staten Island, died of a heart attack. Active and athletic before 9/11, Doyle developed lung disease after weeks of digging at Ground Zero and had to use an oxygen pump. Last month, Kevin Lee, 31, a seemingly healthy NYPD cop, collapsed and died while chasing a suspect, raising questions about the effects of his many hours at Ground Zero. And last June, Tim Keller, 41, an FDNY emergency medical technician and father of four, died of a heart attack after going on disability for post-9/11 asthma, bronchitis and pulmonary emphysema. … So far, at least 24 of the 6,000 workers have died from inhaling, ingesting or absorbing WTC dust and fumes — rife with thousands of pounds of pulverized mercury, lead, asbestos, dioxin, benzene, cadmium and PCBs, the suit argues. The dead include men in their 30s, 40s and 50s from cancers of the esophagus, throat, pancreas, and kidney, Worby said. … Such cancers normally take years longer to develop, but Worby contends they struck sooner because of a “synergistic effect” of the deadly toxins — a theory Levin said is under study. Others have died or suffer from lymphoma and leukemia — blood cancers that can develop several years after exposure to toxins. After working 12-hour days for three months, digging for body parts and doing security at Ground Zero, NYPD detective Ernie Vallebuona, 40, is fighting lymphoma. … Volpe was diagnosed with kidney disease in 2002, and has lost 50 percent of function in both kidneys. … While “cancer is a continuing concern,” among firefighters, cancer and heart attacks have not risen above normal since the terror attacks, said Dr. Kerry Kelly, the FDNY’s chief medical officer. She did not give numbers. But more than 2,000 Bravest have suffered pulmonary problems, including 500 forced to retire on disability, she said. … (NYPost, by Susan Edelman and Heather Gilmore, February 19, 2006)
  • Post-9/11 needs surfacing …. For Aaron Edelman, the effects of helping at Ground Zero after Sept. 11 were felt immediately – but it wasn’t until this past September that he finally asked for help. Edelman, who was a union carpenter and volunteer rescue worker at Ground Zero, said he finally came forward because life was becoming unbearable. “I’ve worked quite a bit since Sept. 11, but it was less and less each year,” he explained. “For the first year I didn’t miss any work, I was a workaholic. But then it got worse. I only worked for six months last year. I didn’t deal with my problems.” … “Right now I’m getting everything diagnosed officially. I have a very severe case of asthma. I get out of breath after only walking one or two blocks. I have chronic sinus problems.” He added that his PTSD was also officially diagnosed. … Due to his medical problems, he is unable to continue with carpentry jobs due to the heavy workload required and due to being around any types of dust – something his doctor told him would kill him if he remained exposed. “My problem is that I can’t breathe at all when I’m around dust – sheetrock dust, wood dust, anything,” said Edelman. “It’s just doing more damage to my body.” … NYDIS’ Sept. 11 Unmet Needs Roundtable received a $1.7 million grant from the American Red Cross Liberty Disaster Relief Fund in January to help the roundtable continue to address the lingering needs. The roundtable, comprised of faith and community-based service agencies, has already distributed some $4.5 million in emergency financial assistance to some 2,500 survivors and injured recovery workers. … (Disaster News Network, by Heather Moyer, February 17, 2006)
  • Federal judge ‘shocked’ by E.P.A. statements … The activists who have been fighting the Environmental Protection Agency ever since Christine Todd Whitman told Downtown residents and workers after 9/11 that the air in their neighborhood was safe to breathe and they should come home and breathe it — despite a lack of evidence — finally had their day in court. But the victory, the first in a long line of setbacks, was bittersweet. Last week, Judge Deborah A. Batts said Whitman, who was head of the E.P.A. at the time, used “conscience shocking” judgment when she assured people the air in Lower Manhattan was safe. The judge stripped the former New Jersey governor of her immunity in a class action lawsuit brought against her and the E.P.A. on behalf of Downtown residents and students who claim they were harmed by toxins from the dust. Batts, in ruling against the agency, singled Whitman out for a series of misleading statements she continued to make in the weeks after the attacks. … “It is extremely frustrating, even outrageous, that we are here, once again, as a group,” said Senator Hillary Clinton, speaking at a press conference after the ruling last week. “We didn’t have a lot of tools at our disposal. Trying to persuade the White House and this administration to act in the best interests of Americans is a lonely, almost impossible task.” The senator’s frustration was echoed by the plaintiffs on the case and other residents who have spent the last four and a half years struggling with little success to get the E.P.A. to clean Lower Manhattan. “It’s sort of a mix of sorrow and triumph,” said Jo Polett, a plaintiff on the case. “It is a very sad thing that citizens have to sue their government to get them to do the right thing.” Although the ruling is a vindication for residents who have described their struggle with the E.P.A. as akin to shouting into an empty barrel, it does not ensure that anything will actually happen. “It’s a positive step in the right direction but it’s a shame that we still haven’t had an adequate testing and cleanup in the last four years and we wonder if that will ever happen,” said Catherine McVay Hughes, chairperson of Community Board 1’s World Trade Center Redevelopment Committee. “We wished that this had happened earlier.” … Hughes, a Financial District resident, hopes that the ruling will uncover “what people knew and when they knew it.” But she spoke with an air of sadness. The E.P.A.’s response to Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast has given her little hope that if another environmental disaster were to strike Lower Manhattan she could rely on the agency vested with the public’s safety. “We wanted to believe that it was safe to come back to work, safe to come back to live, and safe to bring back our neighborhood,” she said. “I doubt that much has changed in terms of environmental safety and health except that now people know that they’re on their own.” (Downtown Express, by Ronda Kaysen, February 10-16, 2006)
  • Federal Judges Rule on Two 9/11 Lawsuits Against EPA on Same Day … Two lawsuits brought by people who said they were sickened from breathing Lower Manhattan air after 9/11 were ruled on by federal judges on February 2. One was dismissed and one was allowed to proceed. Judge Alvin Hellerstein dismissed the suit against the Environmental Protection Agency and its former administrator, Christine Todd Whitman, brought by first responders and others who worked at the site. Judge Deborah Batts allowed a class action lawsuit by Lower Manhattan residents to go forward, however. The agency is charged with misleading the public about the safety of the environment in the days after the WTC towers collapsed. Downtown residents gathered with environmental activists and elected officials – Senator Hillary Clinton, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, and City Council member Alan Gerson – to hail Judge Batt’s decision. The group hopes legal action will force the EPA to conduct a more thorough clean-up of indoor spaces than the program to be launched in coming weeks. “Determining the extent of the contamination can better prepare us for the future,” said Senator Clinton. A spokesperson from the Justice Department said the agency was still reviewing the case. (Battery Park City Broadsheet, February 13 – February 28, 2006)
  • Street Talk: Interviews and photos by Christine M. Coppa … A federal judge has allowed a class action lawsuit to go forward that charges the EPA with misleading the public about the safety of the environment after 9/11. Later this month, the EPA is expected to launch a program to clean indoor spaces downtown of any remaining World Trade Center toxins, which elected officials and activists say is inadequate – “Do you think Lower Manhattan could still be contaminated with World Trade Center toxins?”
  • – Katrin Tijburg, Brand Manager, Fashion, Battery Place: I live very close to the World Trade Center area and I can see, it’s still very dusty. Sometimes I think about it when I walk past the area, and of course, I always look around. I think about it every day …I see dust, I don’t smell anything, it’s just the dust, I can see it from my apartment window. When I see it, I think, what is this? I am inhaling it? I definitely think there is a little bit more to do, and with the EPA coming in, it makes me feel better.
  • – Adam Greenberg, Investment Banker, Tribeca: I’m sure there was in the past. I think now, my sense is, there is not. I don’t see anything (dust), nothing … the EPA coming in, it’s precautionary. Initially, I saw dust, paper, and the air was cloudy. My sense, may not be the most informed sense, but I feel it’s safe down here, I do.
  • Jill Herlands, Jewelry Designer, West Street: I sincerely believe there was a contamination problem in the beginning and that the EPA minimized it, however, I do not feel a threat now, in any way, whatsoever, otherwise 1 wouldn’t live here and have my daughter live down here. I think people dramatize and overstate the facts. I think the EPA is doing what they can and I don’t think there is any cover up, although I do think the days and months following the attack, the concern for well-being was minimal. It was certainly underdone in the beginning … now, they are going over and above. They are ensuring the air is safe. In the beginning, they said it was safer than it was. I have no fear now, I am perfectly fine … the quality of the air – it’s fine.
  • Shelly Heitman, Health Insurance, Water Street: As far as pollution and contamination, it’s a tough one. I’m not an expert. As far as what I’ve read, if the EPA is coming back down here, there must be a threat. There was dust down here, a lot … these days not so much, so little in fact, I don’t really pay attention to it. It looks pretty clean, but I do think it has taken too long to see a final resolution (but) I don’t feel a personal threat …I don’t dwell.
  • Brent Nyitray, Analyst, John Street,: I wish I knew; is the short answer. I have a two year old and I think about the asbestos issue. The answer is I don’t know. See, there is not a lot of news on it. So, I don’t even know what they have been doing …I don’t think it’s censored, I think it’s something that is not focused on.
  • – Mike Rasmussen, Graphic Designer, John Street
  • To be honest, I think all this construction, this conversion of buildings into hi-rises makes more pollution than anything. I don’t think there is anything looming in regard to the Trade Center. I mean, if my respiratory health was at stake, I’d know … I’d be sick, or feel sick … also, I don’t see any traces of anything dangerous.
  • – Joey Kieser, Student, NYU: It’s something I don’t really even think about. You live in NYC, and you’re used to a certain degree of pollution. The 9-11 case is extreme. I trust that the EPA will make a clean sweep-it ain’t an easy job. It’s their responsibility, to make sure we are all still safe, that we can live and breathe, and not be affected, or infected. I haven’t seen any red flags-no dust or weird smells. (Battery Park City Broadsheet, February 13 – February 28, 2006)
  • Health fears for victims of Ground Zero’s deadly dust ... A week after September 11 Mr Dahl, who had prided himself on jogging eight miles a day, began to cough up grey mucus. He would often wake in the night wheezing, unable to breathe. In January 2002 he had his first full-blown asthma attack. He has since developed an extremely rare form of cancer, synovial sarcoma, in his throat. … Lethal legacy: The twin towers contained thousands of computers, copy machines and fluorescent lights which released tiny particles of lead and mercury. 464,500 sq metres of painted surfaces; 560,000 sq metres of masonry; 650,000 sq metres of flooring; 56,000 sq metres of windows came down as dust. (The Guardian, by Robin Shulman, February 10, 2006)
  • Editorial: Air Quality After 9/11 … The finding that the public was misled on air quality after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center has confirmed some of our most unsettling fears by telling us something we already know, but have not yet been able to accept. …. (NYTimes, February 10, 2006)
  • Specter of 9/11 in latest death: South Beach man who toiled at Ground Zero is 24th fatality among plaintiffs in toxins suit … He was one of nearly 6,000 plaintiffs in a lawsuit charging public and private officials with failing to protect Ground Zero rescue and recovery workers from the dozens of toxins that lodged in their bodies as they sifted through debris.On Tuesday, James Doyle of South Beach became the 24th plaintiff to die, said David Worby, lead attorney in the suit over post-9/11 illnesses. …. Doyle’s widow, Jane Doyle, said last night that her husband’s fatal heart attack was a direct consequence of the lung disease he contracted after working amid World Trade Center debris. “One organ is related to the other,” she said. “His lungs could not take in oxygen to go to his heart.” He periodically needed an oxygen pump to breathe, she said. The retired transit worker’s death comes about a month after the death of James Zadroga, a 34-year-old Manhattan homicide detective whose health deteriorated after he spent weeks digging at Ground Zero. Within two years, Zadroga had to use an oxygen tank to breathe. He was not a plaintiff in Worby’s lawsuit. In an interview about the lawsuit in September 2004, Doyle, then 52, told the Advance that his health began to spiral downward after he accepted a roast beef sandwich from a volunteer distributing free food amid the rubble. “It was right after that that I started feeling really, really sick,” Doyle told the Advance. He was first overcome with a severe bout of nausea. Over the ensuing months, Doyle began to have trouble breathing, he told the Advance. “I used to be able to climb trees, run like the wind,” Doyle said. “Since 9/11, I can’t do anything.” A doctor diagnosed him with asbestosis and silicosis — both forms of lung disease resulting from prolonged inhalation of asbestos and silica dust. His illness forced him to stop working in March 2004. Doctors who monitor the health of 9/11 recovery workers warn that it is too early to tell whether their deaths are linked to Ground Zero. The incubation period for asbestosis and other diseases caused by toxins is 10 to 15 years. But more study is needed to determine the extent to which 9/11 may have exacerbated pre-existing conditions or triggered illnesses in people predisposed to them. … Worby theorized that dioxin unleashed from burning plastics and fuels could have strained Doyle’s heart. That, combined with his damaged lungs, could have dealt the lethal blow. The lawsuit is now in litigation in Manhattan federal court, and represents private employees, transit workers, firefighters and cops, among others. In addition to Doyle, four other plaintiffs have had fatal cardiac episodes, said Worby. Others have died from such illnesses as pulmonary infections, black lung and cancers of the esophagus and pancreas. (Staten Island Advance, by Heidi J. Shrager, Feb. 9, 2006)
  • Heroes Helping Heroes … At a January 28 conference in Brentwood, Unsung Heroes Helping Heroes Inc., held their first major meeting in an attempt to identify issues and finding solutions to problems faced by the recovery and rescue workers, first responders and cleanup personnel affected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. … (Suffolk Life, by Rob Busweiler, Feb. 8, 2006)
  • Whitman in Court: A lesson on spin … Last week, a U.S. District Court judge reminded Christie Whitman that there are limits to political spin. Say what you will about federal judges and their immense power, few in public life get to speak with such directness. You have to love it. … (Press of Atlantic City, Feb. 8, 2006)
  • False assurances … The former New Jersey governor’s response — that “every action taken by the EPA during the response to this horrific event was designed to provide the most comprehensive protection and the most accurate information to the residents of Manhattan” — does not ring true. The EPA inspector general’s report found that the agency’s reassurances were based on incomplete information, and that the White House convinced the EPA to change the tone of those air-quality findings to make them less cautionary. If that’s indeed the case, shouldn’t the White House be held accountable here as well? (The NJ Record, Feb. 6, 2006)
  • Judge Says Government Misled Public on 9/11 Air Quality … (CNSNews.com, Feb. 6, 2006)
  • Opionist: Don’t Bother Doubting the EPA (cough, cough, …) … This week a federal judge served up former Environmental Protection Agency chief Christine Todd Whitman with an entirely warranted wake-up call. While more than 5,000 residents, workers and students from Lower Manhattan have filed a class action lawsuit accusing Whitman and the E.P.A. of misleading them about the health risks involved in breathing the air near Ground Zero, Whitman, seeing herself somehow exempt, had filed to dismiss the case. That ain’t happening. The class action suit goes specifically after Whitman, threatening to hold her personally liable. After all, as soon as two days after the attacks she was assuring New Yorkers that the air was safe to breathe. Yes, it would have been better if you had said, “No, we don’t know. Please stay clear of the area without a respirator.” It’s actually very difficult to really nab a public official. There’s plenty of fine print, but it comes down to the fact that an official’s conduct has to be so egregious as “to shock the contemporary conscience.” … (Gothamist, by Andrew Bast, Feb. 5, 2006)
  • Whitman, EPA short on truth … In addition, we later learned the EPA wasn’t even testing for many common toxins that were hovering in lower Manhattan air at the time. At the same time, there were scientists and doctors at the scene, particularly from nearby Mount Sinai Hospital, who were leery of the asbestos and toxin-laden air and suggesting it did pose a hazard. We got wind of who was right when, in 2003, the EPA’s own inspector general unexpectedly and pointedly criticized Whitman and her statements of assurance. The sum of the inspector general’s evaluation was that when Whitman made those statements, she didn’t really know what she was talking about. … Now this only clears the way for civil trials and settlements. Those bringing the suits still have to prove they were hurt as a result of Whitman’s words. But there’s no question the judge’s ruling clearly establishes that as far as the court is concerned, Whitman and the EPA had a legal as well as a moral responsibility to speak the truth. And that they did not. (TimesUnion, Feb. 5, 2006)
  • Hil blasts EPA over 9/11 air … Sen. Hillary Clinton ripped the Environmental Protection Agency, its former chief Christie Whitman and the White House yesterday for telling New Yorkers the air around Ground Zero was safe to breathe after 9/11. … Nadler (D-Manhattan) was even harsher in his criticism, accusing Whitman of lying and the White House of a coverup. Whitman and other officials presented a positive picture of air-quality issues immediately after the towers fell. The Daily News refuted Whitman’s claims a month after the attacks, citing the EPA’s own air-quality studies, gathered via the Freedom of Information Act. … (NYDailyNews, by Ethan Sacks, February 4, 2006)
  • Hill’s Dust Storm … Federal environmental officials — with White House prodding — deliberately misled New Yorkers about the danger posed by toxic dust after the 9/11 attacks and are now covering it up, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton charged yesterday. “The EPA failed in its duty to protect New Yorkers from the dangerous cloud of toxic materials released on Sept. 11th,” Clinton told reporters the day after a judge’s ruling that took then-EPA boss Christie Whitman to task for her statements that the air was fine at Ground Zero. Clinton called “outrageous” the Environmental Protection Agency’s declaration on Sept. 13, 2001, that the air was relatively safe and that short-term exposure to the area “is unlikely to cause significant health effects.” “The EPA had misled the public about the air quality around Ground Zero in the days after the attack under pressure from the White House,” Clinton said. A federal judge on Thursday hammered Whitman for saying the air was safe, and allowed a lawsuit over the toxic dust to proceed. The suit asks the government to pay for a cleanup and for medical monitoring of those exposed to the dust. … Nadler said that after the attacks, the White House was eager to declare the area around Ground Zero safe so the Wall Street stock exchanges could quickly reopen — minimizing the attacks’ damage to the national economy. He also said a proper cleanup could cost billions. “I think they do not want to spend the money,” he said. NYPost, by Sill Sanderson, Feb. 4, 2006)
  • Whitman Defends Finding on Air After 9/11 … Christie Whitman, the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, yesterday rejected as ”completely inaccurate” a ruling by a federal judge that found she had misled people near the World Trade Center site about the risks of toxic air contamination after the Sept. 11 attack. In a statement, … In coincidence, another judge in the same courthouse issued a ruling on Thursday in a separate but almost identical case against Mrs. Whitman and the agency — and he reached the opposite conclusion. After a hearing late Thursday, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein dismissed the suit in his court, accepting virtually the same arguments by Justice Department lawyers that Judge Batts had rejected. Judge Hellerstein was convinced that Mrs. Whitman should be immune. The lawyer representing the plaintiffs in the second case said he would appeal, and Mrs. Whitman said she expected the Justice Department to appeal Judge Batts’s ruling. A department spokesman, said lawyers there were reviewing that ruling. (NYTimes, by Julia Preston, February 4, 2006)
  • Choking it down” For some, ruling confirms belief that assurances of former EPA head after 9/11 are hard to swallow … Mike Keane, owner of O’Hara’s Pub & Restaurant on Cedar Street in lower Manhattan, said he and everybody else who fled the Ground Zero area knew what former Environmental Protection Agency chief Christine Todd Whitman said she didn’t know. The billowing cloud of debris from the pulverized World Trade Center site was dangerous, he said Friday while tending bar for a late lunch crowd. …. Batts didn’t rule on the merits of the lawsuit, which seeks damages from Whitman and the EPA, as well as the creation of a fund to finance medical monitoring services. But Batts’ decision sparked outrage from people living and working around Ground Zero. New York politicians, including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, also weighed in Friday, saying Whitman and the EPA were at best uninformed or at worst lying. … Richard Hu, owner of Wall Street Humidor, a cigar store on Warren Street, said, “For a government official to blatantly lie to us is totally irresponsible.” … (Newsday, by Anthony M. Destefano, February 4, 2006)
  • Senator Clinton Praises Ruling On EPA’s 9/11 Response … NEW YORK — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday that a ruling by a federal judge allowing a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency to go forward validated her belief that the Bush Administration deliberately misled the public about environmental dangers caused by the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Clinton declared that the EPA had “failed in its duty” to warn of toxic hazards following the attacks. “Trying to persuade this White House and this administration to act in the best interest of Americans is a lonely, almost impossible task,” she said at a news conference with Rep. Jerrold Nadler and several community activists from the neighborhoods around Ground Zero. Clinton and Nadler, whose district includes the World Trade Center site, have pressed the EPA to create a comprehensive testing and cleanup program for the area, saying the agency’s efforts have so far been insufficient. … At issue is a class-action lawsuit filed against the EPA by a group of residents, workers and students in lower Manhattan who said they had been exposed to toxic materials after the collapse of the World Trade Center and other nearby buildings. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages and reimbursement for cleanup costs. In her ruling, Batts allowed the lawsuit to proceed and refused to grant Whitman immunity. … (SEE VIDEO CLICK ON SCREEN, wnbc.com/TV4, February 3, 2006)
  • Clinton Sounds Off On Whitman And the EPA: Former Agency Head Under Fire Over Ground Zero Air ... Lower Manhattan resident Jo Polett’s raspy voice tells the story of her breathing problems from living there. “I’m still amazed that the agency charged with protecting the public health,” says Polett, “will lie about scientific fact. … And you can shove the fact in their face and they’ll still repeat their lies.” Polett and other plaintiffs in the suit hope the courts will force the EPA to make public their actual findings. But that could be delayed for years, because Whitman says the EPA intends to immediately appeal the court ruling. (CBS2, by Marcia Kramer, Feb. 3, 2006)
  • Judge: Christin Whitman sent people back to lower Manhattan too soon after ‘9/11’ : Whitman was the former EPA chief ... A federal judge blasted former Environmental Protection Agency chief Christine Todd Whitman on Thursday for reassuring New Yorkers soon after the Sept. 11 attacks that it was safe to return to their homes and offices while toxic dust was polluting the neighborhood. U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts refused to grant Whitman immunity against a class-action lawsuit brought in 2004 by residents, students and workers in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn who said they were exposed to hazardous materials from the destruction of the World Trade Center. “No reasonable person would have thought that telling thousands of people that it was safe to return to lower Manhattan, while knowing that such return could pose long-term health risks and other dire consequences, was conduct sanctioned by our laws,” the judge said. She called Whitman’s actions “conscience-shocking,” saying the EPA chief knew that the collapse of the twin towers released tons of hazardous materials into the air. Whitman had no comment, according to a spokeswoman. A Justice Department spokesman said the government had no comment. … Quoting a ruling in an earlier case, the judge said a public official cannot be held personally liable for putting the public in harm’s way unless the conduct was so egregious as “to shock the contemporary conscience.” Given her role in protecting the health and environment for Americans, Whitman’s reassurances after Sept. 11 were “without question conscience-shocking,” Batts said. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., said in a statement that New Yorkers are still depending on the federal government to describe any ongoing risk from contaminants. “I continue to believe that the White House owes New Yorkers an explanation,” she said. U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat whose district includes the trade center site, said the many people who worked at the site and developed respiratory diseases deserve answers. …. (New York-AP/abc7, February 3, 2006)
  • Public Misled on Air Quality After 9/11 Attack, Judge Says …. Christie Whitman, when she led the Environmental Protection Agency, made ”misleading statements of safety” about the air quality near the World Trade Center in the days after the Sept. 11 attack and may have put the public in danger, a federal judge found yesterday. The pointed criticism of Mrs hitman came in a ruling by the judge, Deborah A. Batts of Federal District Court in Manhattan, in a 2004 class action lawsuit on behalf of residents and schoolchildren from downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn who say they were exposed to air contamination inside buildings near the trade center. The suit, against Mrs. Whitman, other former and current E.P.A. officials and the agency itself, charges that they failed to warn people of dangerous materials in the air and then failed to carry out an adequate cleanup. The plaintiffs are seeking monetary damages and want the judge to order a thorough cleaning. In her ruling, Judge Batts decided not to dismiss the case against Mrs. Whitman, who is being sued both as former administrator of the E.P.A. and as an individual. As a legal matter, the ruling established that the suit’s charges were well-documented and troubling enough to meet a legal standard to go forward. But Judge Batts also criticized Mrs. Whitman’s performance in the days after the collapse of the towers unleashed, by the E.P.A.’s estimates, one million tons of dust on lower Manhattan and beyond. …. (NYTimes, by Julia Preston, February 3, 2006)
  • Post-9/11 air quality cover-up continues: Democrats … The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the White House continue to mislead the public about air quality in the Ground Zero area immediately after the September 11 attack and have not properly decontaminated the area, two congressional Democrats said on Friday. Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York said the Bush administration’s motive for initially lying about the air quality was economically driven, noting the New York Stock Exchange and major brokerage and financial firms were in the area. “Initially, it was probably an economic decision,” he said. “Get Wall Street running, get the economy going immediately and if the people of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn have to be casualties, so be it.” Nadler and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton said Thursday’s decision by a judge to allow a class-action lawsuit against the EPA validates charges that the EPA lied about air quality in the days after the attack. … (Reuters,/abcnews, by Christian Wiessner, Feb. 3, 2006)
  • Judge hot over 9/11 air; Rips EPA’s all-clear, OKs suit … Batts’ scathing remarks came in a pretrial opinion in a classaction lawsuit filed by students, workers and residents of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn who say Whitman and other officials knowingly presented a false rosy picture of air-quality issues after the towers fell.”The good news continues to be that air samples we have taken have all been at levels that cause us no concern,” Whitman said just five days after the attacks. The Daily News refuted Whitman’s claim a month later, citing the EPA’s own air quality studies, gathered via the Freedom of Information Act. It is now accepted that the towers’ collapse released a cloud of hazardous substances across lower Manhattan that included lead from 50,000 personal computers and some 2,000 tons of asbestos. Several rescue and cleanup workers have since developed cancer and other maladies doctors have linked to the air around Ground Zero…. “Without doubt, if plaintiffs had not been told by the head of a federal agency entrusted with monitoring the environment that it was safe, plaintiffs would not have so readily returned to the area soon after the attacks,” Batts said. (Daily News, by Thomas Zambito, February 3, 2006)
  • Feds Urged to Tap ‘Czar’ To Eye 9/11 Health; Cite 23 Deaths, Call Broader Screening, Treatment Key … Must Improve Tracking: Congresswoman Maloney cited the recent deaths of three city workers who fell sick with illnesses believed to be 9/11-related as proof of the “urgent need” for improved tracking and treatment of first responders, volunteers and other workers. Seventeen legislators – including Sens. Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer – signed a letter to Michael Leavitt, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, urging him to appoint a health professional to better coordinate the Federal Government’s attempts to get aid to the estimated 40,000 people who responded on 9/11 or aided in the clean-up and restoration operations, and for area residents and workers who have suffered daily exposures for the past 4-1/2 years. ‘Persistent Problems’ … some 16,000 people had come forward to be screened. “More than half of them have persistent problems with their sinuses and throats. They have GERD [acid reflux] and breathing difficulties,” she said. “And we’ve only seen a fraction of the thousands who have been exposed.” Ms. Moline said Mount Sinai has gotten Federal funding to continue its monitoring and screening programs through 2009 – but that the programs ideally need to continue for another 15 to 20 years. … Feds Skimp on Treatment: The Federal Government has yet to contribute toward treatment programs, she added, noting that Mount Sinai was able to treat some ill 9/11 responders only because the Red Cross and private philanthropists donated money. “The Red Cross gave us $20 million and that will cover us for the next two years,” Dr. Moline said. “After that, we don’t know.” She is hopeful that some of the $125 million in 9/11 aid that President Bush initially cut from the Federal budget will go toward treatment programs. A bipartisan effort from lawmakers, top city officials and labor leaders successfully got the money restored last month, and $75 million has been earmarked for a treatment program. … Claim 23 Related Deaths: The Daily News reported Jan. 25 that lawyers for thousands of injured workers have turned up at least 23 Ground Zero fatalities – many of them workers in their 30s and 40s who died from cancer and other causes.The newspaper said their surviving family members have joined 5,200 first responders in a pending class-action suit alleging the city and its contractors didn’t do enough to protect them from a toxic environment at Ground Zero. Two EMS members – Timothy Keller and Felix Hernandez – died from diseases their families believe were linked to their time at the disaster site, and the Detectives’ Endowment Association has made the same claim about the death of retired Detective James Zadroga. The Uniformed Firefighters’ Association said it knew of three firefighters who died recently of cancers the families suspected stemmed from 9/11 exposures; an FDNY official said the department was not ordering an investigation into the cause of death for those firefighters because they were not in active service when they died. (The Chief, by Ginger Adams Otis, Feb. 3, 2006)
  • UnderCover: E.P.A. is a no show … The Environmental Protection Agency has no plans to show up at a City Council hearing about its policies. The agency’s regional administrator Alan Steinberg sent a letter to City Councilmember Alan Gerson on Jan. 24 telling him he’s not interested in testifying at his World Trade Center Redevelopment Committee. “Something weird is going on,” said Gerson. He invited Steinberg to testify in December after E.P.A. scaled back a Trade Center dust testing and cleanup plan for Manhattan and Brooklyn. The decision resulted in a pandemonium at the final E.P.A. panel meeting on the topic with panelists deploring the agency, and Senator Hillary Clinton calling for an investigation. But E.P.A. insists there’s nothing left to say on the matter. “E.P.A.’s activities related to Lower Manhattan have already been widely disclosed,” Steinberg wrote in the letter. Gerson was so befuddled by the letter that he wondered if perhaps Steinberg didn’t know what he was talking about. “I don’t know if it’s one part of the agency not knowing what the agency is doing,” he said. (scroll down screen, Downtown Express, February 3 – 9, 2006)
  • Clinton praises ruling on EPA’s 9-11 response ... Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday that a ruling by a federal judge allowing a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency to go forward validated her belief that the Bush Administration deliberately misled the public about environmental dangers caused by the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Clinton declared that the EPA had “failed in its duty” to warn of toxic hazards following the attacks. “Trying to persuade this White House and this administration to act in the best interest of Americans is a lonely, almost impossible task,” she said at a news conference with Rep. Jerrold Nadler and several community activists from the neighborhoods around Ground Zero. Clinton and Nadler, whose district includes the World Trade Center site, have pressed the EPA to create a comprehensive testing and cleanup program for the area, saying the agency’s efforts have so far been insufficient. In December, an EPA panel offered a $7 million plan to test a limited area around the Trade Center site for lead, asbestos and other substances. Friday, Clinton and Nadler reiterated their plan to seek a review of EPA’s actions by the General Accountability Office. The news conference came as former EPA administrator Christie Todd Whitman, whom U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts singled out for stinging criticism in her Thursday ruling, said that she was “outraged” by the ruling. In her opinion, Batts blasted Whitman for telling residents that it was safe to return to their homes even as toxic dust settled over the area, calling her actions “conscience-shocking.” …. Nadler derided Whitman’s latest statement as evidence of an “ongoing conspiracy to cause the shortening of lives of thousands of people in the future,” citing the EPA’s own internal watchdog’s report in 2003 finding that the agency, at the urging of the White House, gave misleading assurances. Nadler said federal officials should face criminal prosecution for their actions. At issue is a class-action lawsuit filed against the EPA by a group of residents, workers and students in lower Manhattan who said they had been exposed to toxic materials after the collapse of the World Trade Center and other nearby buildings. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages and reimbursement for cleanup costs. In her ruling, Batts allowed the lawsuit to proceed and refused to grant Whitman immunity. An EPA spokeswoman directed phone calls about the lawsuit to the Justice Department, where spokesman Charles Miller said the department was reviewing the ruling and would consider an appeal. …. (AP/Newsday, by Beth Fouhy, February 3, 2006)
  • Lawsuit Against EPA For Deeming WTC Site Safe Allowed To Go Forward ... The EPA is expected to appeal, which means it could be months or even years before the case is settled. (NY1, February 03, 2006)
  • Federal Court Opinion Allowing WTC Class-Action Lawsuit to Move Forward (2/2/06)
  • Senator Clinton Responds to EPA’s Failure to Protect New Yorkers Post-9/11 …. “Today’s decision reinforces what I have said all along: That EPA failed in its duty to protect New Yorkers from the dangerous cloud of toxic materials that was released on September 11th, that the White House edited EPA’s statements to downplay the risks posed by the contaminants in that cloud, and that EPA has failed to implement an adequate testing program to assess whether there are ongoing risks posed by indoor contamination in New York. This is outrageous. New Yorkers were depending on the federal government to provide them with accurate information about the air they were breathing. And they are still depending on the federal government to assess the level of ongoing risk. So I will continue to push for an investigation into the EPA’s failure to establish an effective, science-based testing and clean-up plan in response to the post-9/11 environmental disaster. And I continue to believe that the White House owes New Yorkers an explanation.” (Press Release, Office of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, February 2, 2006)
  • Court Approves Key Components of Lawsuit Against EPA for Failure to Clean up WTC Dust : “Whitmans’s deliberate and misleading statements … shock the conscience,” Judge Batts writes… WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jerrold Nadler today applauded the Federal District Court in New York for allowing key claims in a WTC-related class-action lawsuit to go forward. Judge Deborah Batts ruled that EPA, and its former Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, violated residents’ and workers’ constitutional rights by taking actions and making statements that knowingly placed the victims in the way of harmful contamination. “As courts have made clear, a governmental agency cannot, even in following discretionary regulations, choose to flout a person’s constitutional rights,” Judge Batts wrote. The plaintiffs had brought a 5th Amendment claim on the grounds that EPA’s statements and actions denied their right to protection against bodily harm by the government. Batts’s opinion also condemned Whitman’s handling of the case: “Whitman’s deliberate and misleading statements made to the press, where she reassured the public that the air was safe to breathe around Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, and that there would be no health risk presented to those returning to those areas, shock the conscience.” “Finally, a court of law has recognized the tremendous injustice carried out by our government in dealing with post-9/11 New York,” Congressman Nadler said. “For more than four years, EPA has refused to take appropriate action to ensure the health and safety of the victims the World Trade Center attack. I hope today’s decision will force EPA to do its job, and to do it right.” …. Immediately following September 11, 2001, Congressman Nadler launched an investigation into EPA’s wrongdoing, and documented EPA’s legal responsibilities in a White Paper issued in April 2002. That white paper served as the initial basis for the lawsuit. In August 2003, EPA’s own Inspector General released a report confirming that EPA is mandated to clean up buildings under Presidential Decision Directive 62, signed in 1998. The National Strategy for Homeland Security, issued in July 2002, reiterates that EPA is “responsible for decontamination of buildings and affected neighborhoods” following a major incident. Judge Batts denied EPA’s motion to dismiss the case, allowing the Constitutional claim and the complaint against Whitman to move forward. “Judge Batts’s decision proves that the people exposed to World Trade Center contamination do, in fact, have a legal case to make against EPA, and against Whitman,” Nadler said. “I hope that EPA’s lies and wrongdoing will finally be laid bare for all to see, and that they will be forced – finally – to exercise their responsibilities: to clean up the WTC dust completely and provide medical treatment to all those affected.” (Nadler News Release, February 2, 2006)
  • Judge Blasts Ex-EPA Chief For ‘Conscience-Shocking” Actions After 9/11 … NEW YORK — A judge blasted former Environmental Protection Agency chief Christine Todd Whitman on Thursday for reassuring Manhattan residents soon after the 2001 terrorist attacks that the environment was safe to return to homes and offices while toxic dust was polluting the neighborhood. “No reasonable person would have thought that telling thousands of people that it was safe to return to lower Manhattan, while knowing that such return could pose long-term health risks and other dire consequences, was conduct sanctioned by our laws,” U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts wrote, calling Whitman’s actions “conscience-shocking.” Whitman spokeswoman Heather Grizzle said the former New Jersey governor had no comment. Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller said the government had no comment either. EPA spokeswoman Mary Mears said the EPA was reviewing the lengthy opinion but was pleased that the court had dismissed two of four civil claims against the agency including allegations brought under the federal Superfund law. “The EPA will continue to vigorously defend against the outstanding claims,” she said. Democratic lawmakers responded to the lawsuit. “This is outrageous,” said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. “New Yorkers should be able to depend on the federal government to provide information on the air we breathe.” “If the Bush administration was honest, there would be criminal prosecution of Christie Whitman and others and government,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler. Nadler encouraged a dozen residents to file the class action lawsuit in 2004. Since then, two emergency medical technicians and a police detective have died from possible exposure to toxic air. The lawsuit, which the judge has now allowed to proceed, calls for mandatory re-testing of the entire area. …. Batts refused to grant Whitman immunity against a class action lawsuit brought in 2004 by residents, students and workers in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn who said they were exposed to hazardous dust and debris after the Sept. 11, 2001, attack. The judge let the civil lawsuit proceed against the EPA and Whitman, permitting residents, students and workers to try to prove that the agency and its administrator endangered their health by their actions and statements soon after the attack. The lawsuit sought unspecified damages and reimbursement for cleanup costs and asked the court to order a medical monitoring fund be set up to track the health of those exposed to trade center dust. In an 83-page decision, Batts noted that the EPA and Whitman said shortly after the attack brought down the 110-story World Trade Center twin towers that the air in and around the area was safe to breathe. … U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat whose district includes the trade center site, said the many people who worked at the site and developed respiratory diseases deserve answers.”I feel vindicated because we were screaming into the wind on this,” he said in a telephone interview. “It is my assumption that thousands of people — workers and residents — are being slowly poisoned today because these work places and residences were never properly cleaned up.” U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., said in a statement that New Yorkers are still depending on the federal government to describe the ongoing risk from contaminants. “I continue to believe that the White House owes New Yorkers an explanation,” she said. (wnbc.com, February 2, 2006)
  • Judge: Lower NYC Was Reopened Too Soon ... A judge blasted former Environmental Protection Agency chief Christine Todd Whitman Thursday for reassuring Manhattan residents soon after the 2001 terrorist attacks that the environment was safe to return to homes and offices while toxic dust was polluting the neighborhood. … (1010Wins, Feb. 2, 2006)
  • Judge Slams Ex-EPA Chief Over Setp. 11: Judge Lambastes Ex-EPA Chief Christine Todd Whitman, Saying She Sent Residents Back Too Soon After September 11 … NEW YORK – A federal judge blasted former Environmental Protection Agency chief Christine Todd Whitman on Thursday for reassuring New Yorkers soon after the Sept. 11 attacks that it was safe to return to their homes and offices while toxic dust was polluting the neighborhood. U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts refused to grant Whitman immunity against a class-action lawsuit brought in 2004 by residents, students and workers in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn who said they were exposed to hazardous materials from the collapse of the World Trade Center. “No reasonable person would have thought that telling thousands of people that it was safe to return to lower Manhattan, while knowing that such return could pose long-term health risks and other dire consequences, was conduct sanctioned by our laws,” the judge said. She called Whitman’s actions “conscience-shocking,” saying the EPA chief knew that the fall of the twin towers released tons of hazardous materials into the air. A call to a spokeswoman for Whitman was not immediately returned.The judge let the lawsuit proceed against the EPA and Whitman, permitting the plaintiffs to try to prove that the agency and its administrator endangered their health. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and reimbursement for cleanup costs and asks the court to order that a medical monitoring fund be set up to track the health of those exposed to trade center dust. … (The Associated Press/abc news/Newsday, by Larry Neumeister, Februray 2, 2006)
  • EPA, Ex-Chief Must Defend Suit Over Post-9/11 NYC Air … The Environmental Protection Agency and its ex-chief, Christine Todd Whitman, must defend a suit accusing them of misleading the public about the health risks from breathing the air in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack, a federal judge ruled. U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts in New York rejected a request by the EPA and Whitman, a former New Jersey governor, to dismiss the case. The complaint seeks class action status on behalf of residents, workers, and students who were told it was safe to return to their homes after a pair of hijacked jets slammed into the World Trade Center, reducing the twin towers to rubble and filling the surrounding air with contaminated dust.The suit seeks to hold Whitman personally liable for her actions as EPA administrator. Batts, who didn’t rule on the merits of the complaint, said the plaintiffs had alleged enough facts to support a claim that Whitman’s actions, if true, “shock the conscience,” a legal standard in cases seeking to hold government officials personally responsible. “Whitman’s deliberate and misleading statements made to the press, where she reassured the public that the air was safe to breathe around lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, and that there would be no health risk presented to those returning to those areas, shock the conscience,” Batts said in an 83-page ruling. Thousands of adults and children were “unnecessarily exposed” to airborne asbestos and other hazardous substances, the suit says. Whitman knew the air may have been unsafe, according to the complaint. Health-Monitoring: The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, including reimbursement for cleanup costs and the creation of a fund to finance health-monitoring for people who were exposed to trade center dust. Telephone calls to the EPA and to the Whitman Strategy Group, a management consulting firm of which Whitman is the founder, weren’t immediately returned. In her decision, Batts dismissed claims against Marianne Lamont Horinko, who served as acting administrator of the EPA after Whitman left the agency in June 2003. Whitman was governor of New Jersey from 1994 to 2001. The case is Benzman v. Whitman, 04-CV-1888, Southern District of New York. (Bloomberg.com, Februray 2, 2006)
  • HILL WILL PUSH 9/11 HEALTH BILL ... Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said yesterday she will bring the debate over Ground Zero worker health to the Senate floor in coming days, seeking help for 9/11 first responders through a troubled asbestos litigation bill. Clinton said she will try to add an amendment to a much-debated asbestos measure that would make Ground Zero first responders, workers and nearby residents eligible to apply for aid under a newly created Federal Asbestos Compensation Fund. As much as 2,000 tons of asbestos may have been tossed into the air in lower Manhattan when the World Trade Center collapsed. Ground Zero health advocates have long argued that the full scope of illnesses from toxic debris and dust will take years to fully develop, even though doctors caution it will be very difficult to prove the hazards caused specific deaths. “These first responders, workers and residents should be allowed to seek compensation for their asbestos injuries,” Clinton said in a statement, adding they would not be eligible under the current version of the bill. The bill would halt lawsuits over asbestos worker claims that the Bush administration estimates have cost businesses $80 billion. (NYPost, February 1, 2006)

JANUARY

  • Ailing 9/11 Responder to Sit in Balcony at State of the Union … It is believed that tens of thousands of first responders, federal employees and lower Manhattan residents and workers are suffering from health problems likely caused by exposure to toxins at or near the World Trade Center site, including asbestos, lead, mercury, powdered glass and other carcinogens that were stagnating in the air. … (Maloney News Release, January 31, 2006)
  • Sen. Clinton seeks help for ground zero workers in asbestos bill … (Newsday/AP, by Devlin Barrett, January 31, 2006)
  • 9/11 ‘truth’ on their minds as Bush speaks tonight … WASHINGTON – President Bush won’t be the only one making political points about 9/11 at tonight’s State of the Union speech. At least two New Yorkers invited to the address by state lawmakers will be there to illustrate their own, very different points. … Marvin Bethea, a paramedic sickened by his 9/11 exposure who is coming with Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan), has a message for Bush and the rest of the federal government. “I want every member of Congress to look at me and remember me when they go to bed at night,” said Bethea, who takes 14 medications and has formed a foundation to help other 9/11 responders who have lost or had to fight for health care. Maloney sent Bush a letter yesterday asking him to appoint a health czar to make sure people like Bethea don’t slip through the cracks. (Daily News, by Michael McAuliff & Thomas Zambito, January 31, 2006)
    Clinton seeks help for ground zero workers … Sen. Hillary Clinton said Tuesday she will bring the debate over Sept. 11 ground zero worker health to the floor of the U.S. Senate in coming days, seeking help for first responders through a troubled asbestos litigation bill. Clinton, D-N.Y., said she will try to add an amendment to a much-debated asbestos measure that would make Sept. 11, 2001, first responders, workers and nearby residents eligible to apply for aid under a newly created Federal Asbestos Compensation Fund. As much as 2,000 tons of asbestos may have been tossed into the air in lower Manhattan when the 110-story World Trade Center towers collapsed, according to some estimates. Ground zero health advocates have long argued that the full scope of illnesses from toxic debris and dust will take years to fully develop, even though doctors caution it will be very difficult to prove the hazards caused specific deaths. “These first responders, workers and residents should be allowed to seek compensation for their asbestos injuries,” Clinton said in a statement, adding they would not be eligible under the current version of the bill, the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act. The bill, expected to be taken up in the Senate within days, already has plenty of problems, without additional fights over ground zero health problems. It would halt lawsuits over asbestos worker claims that the Bush administration estimates have cost businesses $80 billion. … The bill would establish a $140 billion trust fund with contributions from corporate defendants and their insurers. Courts would be barred from hearing new lawsuits from asbestos victims. A coalition of companies and unions has campaigned against the measure, saying the fund isn’t big enough. Democrats and several Republican senators also worry that taxpayers might be left holding the bill. … (AP/abc7, January 31, 2006)
  • WTC Health Czar? No! … But the latest demands for a federal strongman to oversee all health-related monitoring and treatment of the many thousands who served at Ground Zero are nothing short of political posturing, aiming to exploit rather than assist the sick and suffering victims and rescuers. …(NYPost, January 30, 2006)
    Office of Representative Carolyn Maloney letter to President Bush … Last week, seventeen bipartisan Members of the New York Congressional delegation sent a letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Michael Leavitt, requesting the appointment of a 911 1 Health Czar. We believe that the health czar should be a seasoned healthprofessional charged with coordinating the federal response to the 911 1 health emergency. … (January 30, 2006)
  • Did WTC dust kill officer?…. The death of a cop who collapsed while pursuing robbery suspects in Manhattan on Friday is being blamed on Ground Zero dust. The parents of Kevin Lee, 31, said their son’s work at Ground Zero after 9/11 may have ruined his health, according to yesterday’s Daily News.(AM-NY, by Chuck Bennett, January 30, 2006)
  • The Hereos of 9/11 are Getting Sick … Vincent Forras, a volunteer firefighter from Westchester County, was dispatched to Ground Zero immediately after the attack. He ended up working on the site for three weeks, spent two hours buried alive in the rubble of the South Tower, and later received the Ground Zero Service Medal. Rescue workers had difficulty breathing soon after arriving at Ground Zero, said Forras. So, he said, “they juiced us up with all kinds of Albuterol and various medications to keep us breathing.” This allowed rescue workers to continue working on the pile, where they filled their lungs with lead, mercury, asbestos, and pulverized cement and glass. When Forras breathes now, he feels like he is “drowning in air.” He lists his other problems: He has “World Trade Center Cough”, a symptom of Reactive Airway Dysfunction Syndrome. He is producing too much phlegm, has massive headaches, sinus problems, and symptoms of heart disease. More than four years after 9/11, his wife is still picking pieces of glass out of his skin. … About half of the people that have come to Mt. Sinai for diagnosis have respiratory diseases, sinus or throat problems, or post-traumatic stress disorder. … WHERE IS THE GOVERNMENT? But interest from government is underwhelming. In his State of the City speech this month, Mayor Michael Bloomberg mentioned major plans for Ground Zero and for health care. He did not, however, connect these two themes. New York State government has provided treatment for those who worked on the pile with access to its worker’s compensation program -– even if they came from out of state -– but its resources are limited. …. If the federal government has been lackluster in screening for health problems, its treatment program is nonexistent. To date, no federal money has been dedicated to treatment for any 9/11 rescue workers. … Some lawmakers in Washington are trying to change this. In December, Congress restored $125 million for funding for 9/11-related health issues that the Bush administration had cut from the budget. New York State’s workers compensation program will get $50 million, with the remaining $75 million spent on existing monitoring and treatment programs. For the first time, this money will be available to be used not only to monitor workers’ health, but also to treat their problems. It is not yet clear, however, when it will reach those who need it or how it will be split among monitoring and treatment programs. … another had lost almost a third of his lung capacity. (Gotham Gazette, by Joshua Brustein, January 2006)
  • NYPD Officer Who Collapsed And Died Worked At WTC Site … The police officer who collapsed and died during a pursuit Friday night, reportedly spent a lot of time at the World Trade Center Site. While the cause of death is still unclear, Kevin Lee’s family members told the Daily News they fear he may have gotten sick because of the long hours he worked at the site after September 11th. The Medical Examiner is working to determine the cause of death. Officer Lee collapsed while he and his partner were chasing three men on the Upper East Side wanted for stealing a laptop from a Lexington Avenue store. Early reports suggested that Lee suffered a heart attack, but the hospital did not confirm that information. … Police officer Lee was the second officer to collapse during a pursuit this year. Earlier this month, police officer Francis Hennessey collapsed and died from a brain aneurysm while on duty. (NY1, January 29, 2006)
  • 9/11 killed hero cop? Kin say collapsed officer spent many hours at WTC … The cop who collapsed and died Friday while chasing a suspect had been living a dream as one of the city’s Finest – but his parents fear he may have been sickened by working long hours at the World Trade Center after 9/11. “We’re very concerned because he spent a lot of time at Ground Zero,” Officer Kevin Lee’s father, Gilbert, said yesterday. But Gilbert Lee said “it’s a total mystery” as to what killed his seemingly healthy 31-year-old son. The family was awaiting autopsy results. The officer, a member of an elite robbery squad, dropped dead after chasing one of three teenagers suspected of swiping a laptop computer from a Lexington Ave. shop. … (Daily News, by Maureen Seaberg & Jose Martinez, Jego R. Armstrong & Jonathan Lemire, January 29, 2006)
  • NYPD cops dies … “We just don’t know whether it was an aneurysm or his heart or what it was,” said Bloomberg, who added Lee was a tall, strapping guy who looked to be in great shape. … (NY Newsday, by Graham Rayman, Rocco Parascandola, & Deborah s. Morris, January 28, 2006)
  • WTC attacks claim latest victim – four years later … Zadroga spent 470 hours sifting through the smoldering ruins. Inhale, exhale. Twelve-hour shifts, nearly 40 of them. Inhale, exhale. More than 28,000 minutes, his only protection a thin paper face mask. … The NYPD, more than three years after 9/11, finally agreed that he was suffering from pulmonary disease related to his rescue efforts. Union head Palladino said the detective had fiberglass in his lungs, and traces of mercury on his brain. … (AP/Newsday, by larry McShane, Jan. 28, 2006)
  • Unions Call For Death Benefit In Post-9/11 Cases; Wary of Growing Toll Among Responders to WTC Site .. . Leaders of the city’s fire and police unions are quietly pushing to get a task force in place to oversee the implementation of the World Trade Center Disability law signed by Governor Pataki last summer. Leaders of the city’s fire and police unions are quietly pushing to get a task force in place to oversee the implementation of the World Trade Center Disability law signed by Governor Pataki last summer. … The UFA Jan. 13 reported the deaths of three firefighters from lung-related diseases believed to be linked to their work at Ground Zero, and the Detectives’ Endowment Association said the Jan. 5 death of 34-year-old retired Det. James Zadroga was also related to the 450 hours he spent investigating debris in the World Trade Center site. A medical autopsy is pending for Detective Zadroga. The families of the three firefighters have not made their medical reports public. The Fire Department has not confirmed the deaths or commented on any possible causal link to 9/11.Two Emergency Medical Technicians also passed away last summer from lung diseases believed to be related to 9/11, although the one coroner’s report released to the public listed the death simply as a heart attack due to respiratory distress. … Assemblyman Peter Abbate, who was instrumental in getting the third version of the pension bill to the Governor’s desk, said the Senate has already made its appointments and that the task force was very close to completion. … (The Chief, by Ginger Adams Otis, January 27, 2006)
  • Helping those harmed by 9/11 ... We’re normally skeptical of calls for so-called “czars” to address major issues, but in this case, the lawmakers are right on target. The 9/11 health problem, while it involves an alarming number of people, is confined, so it lends itself to this kind of approach over the long term. The combined efforts on this front thus far have been scattershot and ineffective. As Mr. Fossella put it, “There doesn’t seem to be one individual who is in charge of coordinating this huge task.” If HHS heeds their call, there will be. Bravo to Reps. Fossella and Maloney for putting aside partisan differences on other issues and uniting to confront in a logical and intelligent way this critical, almost sacred responsibility to help those who are suffering in the wake of 9/11. (Editorial, Staten Island Advance, January 27, 2006
  • Responders, lawmakers press for ‘9/11 Health Czar’ … Official would coordinate disaster programs and secure care for those who fell sick after terror attacks. … The destruction of the Twin Towers created a toxic atmospheric “cocktail” of pulverized glass, asbestos and poisonous gases. … “9/11 is not over,” Ms. Maloney said. “We have failed to provide health care and support to 9/11 heroes.” “People are perishing now,” said Tom Hart, chairman of an advisory committee for the World Trade Center Worker and Volunteer Medical Monitoring Program. “Is there a 100 percent link [to 9/11]? No. If you look in their faces, you know. The folks who were here got sick.” In the past four years, several programs have screened thousands of responders, and many of them have had persistent health problems, said Dr. Jacqueline Moline, medical core director of the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program. “Many of these people are unable to work,” she said. “They still need help. They still need treatment. … We need money to treat them.” Dr. Moline said she worries that the deaths reported so far are just the beginning. … (Staten Island Advance, by Lisa Schneider, January 26, 2006)
    NY Delegation Letter sent to Leavitt on 9/11 Health Czar …. Signed by Congress Members: Maloney, Fossells, Nadler, Walsh, Rangel, Serrano, Weiner, Hinchey, Bishop, Lowey, Towns, Engel, Sweeney, King, & Isreal and US Senators: Schumer & Clinton (January 25, 2006)
  • Call for 9/11 health czar … NEW YORK (AP) — Two city lawmakers called on the federal government to appoint a health czar to oversee treatment and testing for workers and residents suffering from the effects of the destruction of the World Trade Center. “As we speak, there is not one individual who is charged with coordinating the screening and the monitoring and the treatment of the thousands of people who’ve been affected adversely from Sept. 11,” said Congressman Vito Fossella, who joined Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and ground zero recovery workers at the trade center site on Wednesday. “The 9/11 health czar would be directly responsible and accountable for the full range of the federal government’s response,” he said. … In a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt signed by a bipartisan group of Congress members, they called the deaths “an ominous sign” and demanded to know the Bush administration’s plan for long-term monitoring and treatment of ground zero respondents and area residents. A spokesman for HHS did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment Wednesday. Keller, who was 41, died on June 23 of heart disease complicated by bronchitis and emphysema, the Nassau County medical examiner’s office said. … (CNN/AP, January 25, 2006)
  • Health Concerns Prompt Call For ‘9/11 Health Czar’ … The Federal General Accounting Office estimates that between 250,000 and 400,000 people lived, worked or went to school, in the ground zero vicinity at the time of the world trade center attacks. There were 40,000 to 50,000 rescue workers, firefighters, volunteer firefighters, EMS, police and construction workers who worked on the “pile” for some length of time…of 16,000 rescue workers, not firefighters participating in a Mount Sinai Hospital study about half are sick with World Trade Center related diseases. At least three emergency workers have died. Today, there are strong calls for action from members of New York’s Congressional delegation. … (CBS-2, Marcia Kramer, Jan 25, 2006)
  • 9/11 health czar sought … Two New York lawmakers want the U.S. to appoint someone to oversee the health of 9/11 workers. (CNN video, by Mary Snow, January 25, 2006)
    Ground Zero workers call for 9/11 health czar: Officials: federal government has no one monitoring those injured at Ground Zero … Almost five years since the September 11th terror attacks and those who rushed to the scene are still struggling with health problems. Now, workers at Ground Zero are calling for the federal government to name a health czar to help them get the medical care they desperately need. … (abc7, by Carolina Tarazona, January 25, 2006)
  • Lawmakers call for appointment of ground zero health czar …NEW YORK — Two city lawmakers called on the federal government to appoint a health czar to oversee treatment and testing for workers and residents suffering from the lingering effects of the destruction of the World Trade Center. “As we speak, there is not one individual who is charged with coordinating the screening and the monitoring and the treatment of the thousands of people who’ve been affected adversely from Sept. 11,” said U.S. Rep Vito Fossella, who joined U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney and ground zero recovery workers at the trade center site on Wednesday. “The 9/11 health czar would be directly responsible and accountable for the full range of the federal government’s response.” … (NYNewday/AP, by Karen Matthews, January 25, 2006)
  • N.Y. pols press for 9/11 health czar … The bipartisan demand comes a week after the Daily News reported that lawyers for thousands of injured workers have turned up at least 23 Ground Zero workers, many of them in their 30s and 40s, who have died from cancer and other causes. Their families have joined some 5,200 responders in a pending class-action suit that alleges the city and its contractors didn’t do enough to protect them from a toxic environment at Ground Zero. … In a letter to Michael Leavitt, the federal Health and Human Services secretary, 17 legislators – including New York Sens. Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer – express “grave concerns” about the recent deaths and urge him to appoint a health professional to coordinate the federal government’s response to the illnesses faced by some of the 40,000 who responded to the site after Sept. 11. The New York delegation recently succeeded in getting the Bush administration to free up some $75 million for treatment of sick responders, but they say that won’t be enough to treat thousands of workers for decades to come. … (NYDaily News, by Thomas Zambito, January 25, 2006)
  • Editorial: Create 9/11 health czar: sick and injured responders must be monitored & treated … Within hours of the collapse of the World Trade Center, firefighters, police officers, federal agents and other first responders labored alongside hardhats and average New Yorkers without regard for their own health or safety. Unbeknownst to them, many were inhaling a potentially poisonous cocktail of asbestos, lead, mercury, powdered glass and other carcinogens. We are now only beginning to see the potentially deadly effects on some who worked at Ground Zero. Thousands have already been documented as sick, and many of them lack access to sufficient medical care or treatment. Reports indicate that several responders may have died as a result of their service at Ground Zero years after the attack. Since June alone, we have mourned the loss of three local heroes – EMTs Felix Hernandez, 31; Timothy Keller, 41; and, earlier this month, NYPD Detective James Zadroga, 34. … The czar must be a seasoned health professional able to fill the gaps in the federal response and bring together those with a proven track record screening, monitoring and treating 9/11 responders. The health czar’s first order of business must be ensuring that an exhaustive medical screening and monitoring program encompassing a large pool of responders and residents is operational. To date, such programs have yielded valuable information, but have tracked only a fraction of the affected population and, to our dismay, have never been fully funded. Their preliminary findings raise serious concerns: The World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program found that roughly half of the 16,000 people followed have a medical condition resulting from 9/11. A New York City Fire Department study reported similar findings. … (NYDaily News, by Reps. Bito Fossella and Carolyn Maloney, January 25, 2006)
  • 9/11 Workers Call For Federal Health Czar … New York politicians are calling for the creation of a federal health czar to assist in managing the health care of workers who worked at the World Trade Center site following 9/11. Members of New York’s Congressional Delegation plan to call on the Bush administration to appoint a health czar coordinate the health impact of working downtown after the attacks. Responders have already filed a class action lawsuit blaming the city and its contracts for not properly protecting them. The Daily News reports that lawyers for thousands of injured workers have found at least 23 cases in which workers, some in their 30’s and 40’s, have died from cancer and other causes. … (NY1, January 25, 2006)
  • Reps Fossella & Maloney and Sick/Injured Ground Zero Workers Call for Appointment of 9/11 Health Czar to Coordinate Feds’ Response to Ground Zero Health Impacts: Members of Congress Joined by Sick and Injured 9/11 Workers, Health Professionals and Union Leaders at Ground Zero Event … NEW YORK, NY – Congressman Vito Fossella (R-NY13) and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY14) today called for the appointment of a 9/11 Health Czar to coordinate the federal government’s response to Ground Zero health impacts. The lawmakers were joined by sick and injured Ground Zero workers, health professionals and union leaders during a press conference at Ground Zero. In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt today, the lawmakers said the recent deaths of three 9/11 responders — EMTs Timothy Keller, 41 (June 2005), Felix Hernandez, 31 (October 2005) and, earlier this month, NYPD Detective James Zadroga, 34 – underscore the need for the appointment of a seasoned health professional with the knowledge and expertise to meet the extraordinary challenges confronting the sick and injured. … (News Release, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, January 25, 2006)
  • Unions Call For Death Benefit In Post-9/11 Cases; Wary of Growing Toll Among Responders To WTC Site … Leaders of the city’s fire and police unions are quietly pushing to get a task force in place to oversee the implementation of the World Trade Center Disability law signed by Governor Pataki last summer. They’re also anxious to get a death benefit added to the law that currently only grants presumptive disability pensions to Ground Zero workers who fall ill with any number of predetermined injuries or diseases. The legislation contains a clause allowing for changes to the law as circumstances demand, to be made by a task force comprised of city, state and union leaders. … “This bill, which was monumental in and of itself, is not foolproof, and there are things that we need to be monitoring and assessing now,” he said. “At the Public Employees’ [Conference] Breakfast in Albany this Feb. 7, one of the main objectives will be to get a time frame established and get the appointments finished, and we’ll be giving examples like [Detective Zadroga] to reinforce the need for a death benefit.” The task force is comprised of 19 members, three of whom are appointed by the Assembly, and three by the Senate. Four of those seats must be given to state or city labor leaders, and two must go to independent health experts. Of the Governor’s six seats, one must be filled by the state Health Commissioner, and the remaining five can be designated as the Governor sees fit. Other appointees include the State Comptroller, the City Comptroller, the Mayor or a representative of his choice, a second appointee from the state Department of Health, the state’s Department of Labor Commissioner, the Director of the state Division of the Budget and the Commissioner of the state Department of Civil Service. Outstanding Issues: Assemblyman Peter Abbate, who was instrumental in getting the third version of the pension bill to the Governor’s desk, said the Senate has already made its appointments and that the task force was very close to completion. He said there were a few issues that needed to be addressed, such as the situation of city Mechanics who cleaned and maintained all the vehicles used by first responders and others on 9/11 and for months after. Because the garages where they worked weren’t included in the official delineation of “Ground Zero,” they’re not considered eligible for the disability pension. … (The Chief, by Ginger Adams Otis, January 25, 2006)
  • Pushing for ‘9/11 health czar’ … Without a centralized effort to monitor and treat everyone, the legislators wrote, many have grown increasingly ill and are unable to pay their medical bills. “These guys who needed treatment couldn’t get it,” Fossella said. (Staten Island Advance, by Lisa Schneider, January 25, 2006)
  • 9/11 responders are now in need of help … ‘People keep saying it’s all in our heads, but you know what, we’re dropping dead,” Bonnie Giebfried told me. A former emergency medical technician, Giebfried was healthy and athletic when her ambulance responded to the World Trade Center attacks more than four years ago. But after spending five hours at the site and being buried twice by falling debris, her life changed dramatically. She used to play on three softball teams and a paddleball team. Now she suffers from full-blown asthma, a persistent cough, a condition that causes stomach acid to back up into her throat and has damaged her vocal cords, damage to her left side from the neck to the knee, nerve damage, and injuries to her left thumb, wrist, elbow and shoulder. She recently recovered from her third bout with pneumonia, has been hospitalized three times, and has made repeated trips to emergency rooms. So she wasn’t surprised by recent news reports that 23 former Ground Zero responders have died from diseases related to their exposure to toxic chemicals there, and that thousands more are sick and suffering. While some responders are suing the government, Giebfried and others want the federal government to pay for medical treatment for the sick responders, many of whom can no longer work and have no health insurance. Mount Sinai Medical Center has done medical screenings for more than 15,000 World Trade Center responders under a federally funded program that will last until 2009. The medical center has also treated 1,600 responders through a program primarily paid for by the Red Cross. But there’s a three-month waiting list and it’s funded only for another year and a half. Meanwhile, doctors at Mount Sinai say they’re seeing people who are chronically ill and not getting better. And because they were exposed to numerous carcinogens, many more could get sick over time and some may develop cancer. “There’s a potentially looming time bomb of what we may see down the road,” says Dr. Robin Herbert, director of the World Trade Center Health Effects Treatment Program at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Giebfried hasn’t worked since April 2004. It took more than two years for the state’s workers’ compensation program, which is funded by private employers, to agree to pay some of her medical bills. After her job insurance ran out, she was without coverage for a year until the Red Cross picked up her $440 monthly premium under the COBRA program, and that coverage will end in March. Meanwhile, she has more than $40,000 in unpaid medical bills and is living off a federal disability check and a small stipend from workers’ compensation. Her story is similar to the ones I heard from other responders. They talked about going from good health to having a vast array of ailments for which they take up to two dozen medications. They talked about losing the ability to work, about burying friends, and about fearing that, having been exposed to the infamous “green smoke” at Ground Zero, they will only get sicker over time. They also talked about fighting with workers’ compensation officials for their benefits, and about their amazement that the federal government has done nothing to help them with their medical needs. …. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) is outraged that to date, “not one dime of federal money” has gone for the treatment of sick and injured responders. She and other members of New York’s congressional delegation are pushing Congress to restore $125 million that was cut from the federal budget to help states pay workers’ compensation claims related to Sept. 11 and to pay for treatment programs like Mount Sinai’s. The measure passed the House and the Senate is expected to follow suit. …. (NYNewsday, by Sheryl McCarthy, January 23, 2006)
  • Editorial: Ground Zero deaths need investigating … Detective James Zadroga was one of the thousands of New York City police officers who were assigned to duty at Ground Zero when the remains of the World Trade Center still smoldered. He spent 470 hours at the site and, his family says, he paid with his life. They blame his death this month at the age of 34 on toxins he inhaled doing his job. Felix Hernandez and Timothy Keller were Fire Department emergency medical technicians who responded to the Trade Center. Hernandez died in October at age 31 of respiratory disease, too weak to climb stairs. Keller died in June at age 41 of heart disease, bronchitis and emphysema. Their families and co-workers say they, too, were victims of their service on and after 9/11. These three fatalities demand the start an intensive scientific and medical investigation into whether Ground Zero workers face the threat of debilitating or lethal illnesses because of their post-9/11 labors. The need for such a probe is all the more pressing because an entrepreneurial trial lawyer by the name of David Worby has gone to federal court seeking permission to wage a class-action suit on behalf of 5,000 people who were exposed to the site. Lacking an authoritative cause-of-death finding, it is impossible to say with absolute certainty whether Zadroga, Hernandez and Keller were fatally sickened by poisons inhaled more than four years ago. But medical experts say suspicion is warranted because of descriptions of the illnesses suffered by the three men. Zadroga, for example, was diagnosed with black lung disease, mercury in his brain and pulverized glass in his body, according to his family. Autopsy results are pending. Studies show that the air around Ground Zero contained a poisonous mix of pulverized concrete, powdered glass, asbestos, lead, mercury and cancer-causing compounds from burning jet and diesel fuel. Mount Sinai Medical Center doctors, who are monitoring the health of 15,000 responders, have identified patterns of symptoms that go far beyond the well-documented ailment known as World Trade Center cough. About 40% to 50% have persistent lower respiratory disease, and half have nasal and sinus problems. Many suffer from acid reflux. Worby says he has identified 23 rescue and recovery workers who died as a direct result of their labor at Ground Zero – an assertion that runs far beyond anything documented by medical experts. He is free to make the claim, perhaps needlessly terrifying thousands, because no one is as yet systematically analyzing the deaths among people who were on and around the Trade Center pile. … (NYDaily News, by Reps Vito Fossells and Carolyn Maloney, January 22, 2006)
  • Ground Zero Workers from Triad Healthy …. Griffin, a leader in his family’s D.H. Griffin Wrecking Co. of Greensboro, probably spent more time than anyone at the site where on Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists crashed two jet airliners into the centers, which toppled. On that day, 2,801 people were killed, 2,261 injured. ….”We tried to be very adamant about wearing respirators,” Griffin says.But he conceded that he and others often worked without masks. They made communications impossible. Words sounded garbled. He said good communications trumped constant wearing of a respirator. “You could get killed if you didn’t communicate,” he said, referring to the huge beams being cut up around him. … (NewsRecord.com, by Jim Schlosser, January 21, 2006)
  • Link Deaths of 3 Firemen, Cop To WTC Site; Health Officials Urge Screening, Offer Free Treatment …The Uniformed Firefighters’ Association announced Jan. 13 that two of its members and a Battalion Chief have died in recent months due to lung illnesses the union believes are linked to toxic exposures from Sept. 11 and its aftermath. … Sudden Illnesses: UFA Vice President James Slevin said the recent deaths of Firefighter Walter Voight, 55, Firefighter Stephen Johnson, 48, and Battalion Chief Joe Costello were unexpected and quick. All three men were involved in either the initial response or rescue and clean-up efforts at Ground Zero. Firefighter Voight and Firefighter Johnson were among the many Fire Department members who retired a few years after 9/11. Both left the FDNY in good health, on normal service pensions. “That’s part of what makes their deaths such a cause for grave concern,” Mr. Slevin said. “They retired in late 2003, early 2004, and then sickened and died within the span of a year. From what we’ve been told, their diseases progressed very rapidly.” Mr. Slevin said doctors had advised the union that a rash of lung illnesses – Reactive Airway Distress Syndrome (RADS), asthma and others- would turn up among some members almost immediately, but cancer-related diseases would not start appearing for four to five years. … (The Chief, By GINGER ADAMS OTIS, January 20, 2006)
  • Residual Indoor Contamination from World Trade Center Rubble Fires as Indicated by Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Profiles … The catastrophic destruction of the World Trade Center (WTC) on Sept. 11, 2001 (9/11) created an immense dust cloud followed by fires that emitted smoke and soot into the air of New York City (NYC) well into December. Outdoor pollutant levels in lower Manhattan returned to urban background levels after about 200 days as the fires were put out and the debris cleanup was completed. However, particulate matter (PM) from the original collapse and fires also penetrated into commercial and residential buildings. This has created public concern because WTC dust is thought to cause adverse pulmonary symptoms including “WTC cough” and reduced lung capacity. Additionally, some recent studies have suggested a possible link between exposure to WTC contamination and other adverse health effects. Distinguishing between normal urban pollutant infiltration and residual WTC dust remaining in interior spaces is difficult; efforts are underway to develop such discriminator methods. Some progress has been made in identifying WTC dust by the content of fibers believed to be associated with the initial building collapse. There are also contaminants created by the fires that burned for 100 days in the debris piles of the building rubble. Using WTC ambient air samples, we have developed indicators for fire related PM based on the relative amounts of specific particle bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and the mass fraction of PAHs per mass of PM. These two parameters are combined, and we show a graphical method for discriminating between fire sources and urban particulate sources as applied to samples of settled dusts. We found that our PAHs based discriminator method can distinguish fire source contributions to WTC related particulate matter and dusts. Other major building fires or large open burn events could have similar PAHs characteristics. We found that random samples collected ~3.5 years after the WTC event from occupied indoor spaces (primarily residential) in the New York area are not statistically distinguishable from contemporary city background. …. (Environmental Science and Technology, 40 (4), 1172 -1177, 2006; Joachim D. Pleil, William E. Funk, and Stephen M. Rappaport; January 14, 2006)
  • Work to demolish damaged Fiterman Hall may actually begin … City University of New York has taken steps to demolish a contaminated building damaged in the World Trade Center disaster and will present its plans to the Environmental Protection Agency as early as this week. Fiterman Hall, a 15-story Borough of Manhattan Community College building, has stood shrouded in black, with large gaping holes torn into its southern façade, since 9/11. Until last year, the school, a CUNY institution, had been unable to secure enough money to demolish the structure and build anew. The community has long expressed outrage that such a contaminated eye sore has remained in their midst with no end in sight. In May, the university cobbled together the last of $185 million it needed for the project and announced its intentions to move forward with the cleanup. Since then, the university has been working with environmental experts to hash out a cleanup and demolition plan that will meet regulatory standards. University officials will present their plan to E.P.A. this month—possibly as early as this week, a CUNY environmental consultant said—and begin cleaning the building in May. CUNY expects to finish cleaning the building by September and demolish it by February 2007 … “The government has not dealt with Fiterman Hall,” Silverstein said, gesticulating, his soft-spoken voice rising in timbre. “In the time it took to build this building they have not been able to get that building down. Something’s wrong. There isn’t anybody who I bring to this building who doesn’t look across the street and say ‘What’s that?’ That’s really governmental failure.” The cleanup of Fiterman will begin around the same time Silverstein dedicates a new park opening next to 7 W.T.C. “That’s pretty sad,” he said of the delay. For nearby residents, Fiterman’s stalled demolition is a reminder of a redevelopment process that has been marred by delays and setbacks. “You’re constantly reminded of 9/11 by looking at this awful building,” said Catherine McVay Hughes, chairperson of Community Board 1’s World Trade Center Redevelopment Committee and a Financial District resident. “It’s unfortunate that Fiterman was not able to address the demolition of this building until a design for a new building was determined”. It’s too bad it’s taken this long.” … (Downtown Express, by Ronda Kaysen, January 13 – 19, 2006)
    Congress Debates Ethics Reform; First Responders Suffering Health Effects from 9/11; Tech Stocks Down; Nutritionist Says Food, Mood Connected … M. O’BRIEN: All right, let’s shift gears here. You could call this next syndrome, if you will, disease, whatever, the Gulf War syndrome of 9/11. Dangerous and often deadly health problems lingering long after the Twin Towers came down. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
    M. O’BRIEN (voice-over): The swirl of bad air on September 11th lingered like a bleak nasty fog, clinging to the back of the throat, creeping into the lungs; 2,749 people died in that air.
  • What was that stuff? Emergency medical technician Bonnie Giebfried and her team were overcome by it that day. She had an asthma attack for the first time since childhood.
    BONNIE GIEBFRIED, EMERGENCY MEDICAL TECHNICIAN: That’s where we ran to. And that’s where I got buried alive.
    M. O’BRIEN: Since then she has watched other Ground Zero workers succumb to lung ailments that appeared to begin on September 11, like the recent deaths of police detective, Joseph Sdroga (ph), and her colleague, Felix Hernandez.
    GIEBFRIED: I’ve been on probably over 100 medications since 9/11.M.
    O’BRIEN: Their deaths have brought new panic to the tight group of 9/11 rescue workers we spoke to who struggle with poor health and blame their exposure to Ground Zero, where the EPA identified free-floating lead, PCBs, asbestos and dioxin among other contaminants.
  • There are seven billion federal dollars set aside for victims of the September 11 attacks, including first responders. But it’s hard to predict whether that money will be enough. A medical monitoring program of those affected found that half have persistent respiratory and mental health needs years later.
    DR. JACQUELINE MOLINE, MOUNT SINAI HOSPITAL: We failed many of these people. They became physically or mentally disabled as a result of the exposures they had at World Trade Center site. They weren’t able to work. They lost their health insurance. They lost a safety net.
    M. O’BRIEN: Tim Keller, the guy in the middle, died this fall, left penniless and fighting for benefits.
    REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D), NEW YORK: We called them heroes and heroines. But now that they are coming forward with their illnesses, government is not there to help them and we should be there.
    M. O’BRIEN: Proving that bad air five years ago did this…
    GIEBFRIED: (COUGHING)
    M. O’BRIEN: … is not easy. They must turn to insurance and workers compensation, where claims by 9/11 victims are rejected at higher than average rates.
    New York’s Workers Compensation Board offered this written statement: “In light of the fact that a significant number of WTC claims involve matters such as stress, inhalation or other illnesses that are not visible or immediately detectable, it is not unexpected that insurance carriers would desire additional examination.”
    Bonnie goes for regular checkups and monitoring.
    GIEBFRIED: It’s a constant prove this, prove that, show us documentation that you’re still sick, prove that you’re still sick. Prove you were there that day. And it is a constant battle. Constant, constant, constant battle.
    M. O’BRIEN: Fighting to prove that something awful happened to her that day and the effects linger.
    M. O’BRIEN: Now apparently, only about one in five of the people who responded in the wake of the falling of the Twin Towers wore respirators or masks. It was either uncomfortable, it was difficult work or they weren’t available.
    S. O’BRIEN: You just ran down there. I mean, I remember that day. I was — I lived downtown. And people, you ran downtown. And that’s the story for everybody who covered that story. I mean, you just went to the story and…
    ANDY SERWER, “FORTUNE” MAGAZINE: People didn’t think about masks.
    S. O’BRIEN: When you go to save someone’s life, you’re not going to grab a mask.
    M. O’BRIEN: It’s the last thing you think about. And you know, the truth is we’re going to have to watch these people who were there, really, for the remainder of those lives and try to connect those dots. It’s difficult to make that connection. It puts people in a difficult position for the short-term. … (CNN, January 18, 2006)
  • ‘Significant Gaps’ Reported in Disaster Responses … Emergency medical teams that rush in to save lives after a natural disaster or terrorist attack don’t have necessary supplies, training or staff and should be overhauled, according to members of Congress, former Bush administration officials and team leaders. … (USAToday, by Mimi Hall, 01/18/2006)
  • Within 7 Months, 3 Sept. 11 Workers Die: Sept. 11 Workers Die of Health Problems; Direct Link to Ground Zero Unclear … James Zadroga spent 16 hours a day toiling in the World Trade Center ruins for a month, breathing in debris-choked air. Timothy Keller said he coughed up bits of gravel from his lungs after the towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001. Felix Hernandez spent days at the site helping to search for victims. All three men died in the past seven months of what their families and colleagues say were persistent respiratory illnesses directly caused by their work at ground zero. While thousands of people who either worked at or lived near the site have reported ailments such as “trade center cough” since the terrorist attacks, some say that only now are the consequences of working at the site becoming heartbreakingly clear. …. Karin DeShore said she does not need scientists to tell her what caused the death of her friend Keller, 41. DeShore was a Fire Department captain who took Keller to the trade center on Sept. 11, and barely escaped the south tower’s collapse. “He came back coughing” two days later, she said. Faeth said that Keller told him that he coughed up debris so violently he could barely breathe on Sept. 11, and later developed emphysema. (abcnews/Associated Press, by Amy Westfeldt, January 17, 2006)
  • Hidden Victims of WTC … “There is no doubt in any of our minds that there is a direct correlation between their deaths and their participation at Ground Zero,” said Don Faeth, vice president of the Uniformed Emergency… (New York Post, By Erika Martinez, January 17, 2006)
  • Within 7 Months, 3 Sept. 11 Workers Die ... James Zadroga spent 16 hours a day toiling in the World Trade Center ruins for a month, breathing in debris-choked air. Timothy Keller said he coughed up bits of gravel from his lungs after the towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001. Felix Hernandez spent days at the site helping to search for victims. All three men died in the past seven months of what their families and colleagues say were persistent respiratory illnesses directly caused by their work at ground zero. While thousands of people who either worked at or lived near the site have reported ailments such as “trade center cough” since the terrorist attacks, some say that only now are the consequences of working at the site becoming heartbreakingly clear. “I’m very fearful,” said Donald Faeth, an emergency medical technician and officer in a union with two of the ground zero workers who died last year. “I think that there are several people who died that day and didn’t realize that they died that day.” Some officials say it is too early to draw that conclusion. Doctors running different health screening programs say it will take decades to get a clear picture of the long-term health effects of working at ground zero. … (abc/AP, Jan. 17, 2006)
  • WORKERS’ LAST GASP. 5,000 in suit over WTC illnesses. GROUND ZERO CREWS SAY THEY WEREN’T PROTECTED FROM DANGEROUS TOXINS … RUSSELL FOX worked in the dusty tombs of debris left by the collapse of the World Trade Center for six months. He helped build makeshift piers for the barges that would ferry rubble from Ground Zero to a Staten Island landfill. And when that work was done, he drilled holes deep into the concrete wall that formed the basin where the towers had been. For the veteran construction worker from Co-op City in the Bronx, the cleanup of Ground Zero turned into a big payday.” It was great,” said Fox. “I was making a lot of money.” Four years later, Fox is the one who’s paying. His 49-year-old body, has been ravaged by ailments. His hands have become so arthritic he can’t twist the plastic cap off a bottle of water. And his nonstop coughing spasms have so eroded the linings of his throat that the inhaler he carries with him does little good. Fox is among more than 5,000 Ground Zero workers who have signed up for a class action lawsuit pending in Manhattan Federal Court that accuses government officials and construction contractors of exposing workers to dangerous levels of toxins at Ground Zero and the Fresh Kills landfill. Their lawyer, David Worby, says many workers were not even given protective masks. And he says Latino day laborers dug through asbestos with bare hands. An estimated 40,000 people responded to the collapse and worked on the recovery for months afterward. Twenty-three of them have died, according to attorneys and relatives of WTC recovery personnel. City officials and doctors who have treated Ground Zero workers warn that a medical connection has yet to be establshed. Affected workers face the likelihood of expensive medical treatments for years to come, but the federal government has put little aside to pay their health care tab. But many workers are frightened, unsure whether the everyday cough could turn to something far worse. Robert McCracken served 32 years with the city Fire Department, finishing as the chief of emergency services in 2004 and now spends his days going from one air-conditioned room to another. The Rockaway, Queens, man has severe respiratory problems as well as tiny nodules on his lungs that might indicate cancer. Acid reflux wakes him up repeatedly in the middle of the night. …. NYPD Detective Michael Valentin, 41, of Rockland County, provided security at Ground Zero and also brought supplies to a nearby firehouse. He worked there for about two months.
  • Two years later, the married father of three was struck by night sweats, leg swelling, congestion and sinus infections.
    “My doctor told me to get a chest X-ray and they found a mass in my chest,” he said, coughing through most of a recent interview.
    Valentin has had four operations, including the removal of his gall bladder. He has chronic asthma, acid reflux and often loses his voice by the end of the day.
    Out on sick leave, Valentin said three other detectives in the same division have similar symptoms. He held a photo of one of them.
    “I hope he lives,” Valentin said, referring to his friend and fellow detective Ernie Vallebuono, who is hospitalized with lymphoma. “I hope I do, too.”
  • CHECKING UP ON HEALTH
    Six programs have monitored the health of responders to the World Trade Center collapse at a total cost of $130 million through 2009. Three programs remain active:
  • WTC HEALTH REGISTRY
    WHO’S ELIGIBLE: Ground Zero workers, residents living near the WTC and students who attended nearby schools. So far, 71,437 of an estimated 385,000 people who qualify have enrolled. Administered by the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the registry is developing plans to track participants’ health through 2023.
    FDNY WTC MEDICAL MONITORING PROGRAM
  • WHO’S ELIGIBLE: Monitored 15,284 firefighters and EMTs through June 2005 and did 522 followup exams. Will offer followup exams in three sessions through June 2009. Administered by the FDNY Bureau of Health Services.
  • WTC WORKER AND VOLUNTEER MEDICAL MONITORING PROGRAM: WHO’S ELIGIBLE: Cops and emergency rescue workers from New York City and surrounding areas, firefighters from outside N.Y.C., building and construction workers, press and news media, health care and food service workers, and anyone who worked in the immediate vicinity of the WTC site. (Excluded are FDNY members and federal and employees because they were eligible for other grams.) Now allows state employees to participate. Administered by Mount Sinai’s Selikoff Clinical Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Monitored 14,110 workers through June 2005 and did 1,699 followup exams. (New York Daily News., by Thomas Zambito and Robert F. Moore, Jan 15, 2006)
  • The Pit’s toll rising ... James Zadroga, the 34-year-old Manhattan homicide detective buried this week, is believed to be the first member of the NYPD who worked on the Ground Zero cleanup to die. But the Daily News has learned that an additional 22 men, mostly in their 30s and 40s, have died from causes their families say were accelerated by the toxic mix of chemicals that lodged in their bodies as they searched for survivors or participated in the cleanup after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Among them are private employees, a sanitation worker, a correction officer, a Con Ed worker, transit workers, firefighters and cops. They died from black lung and cancers of the esophagus and pancreas. David Knecht, a Lucent Technologies employee, worked for two months to reestablish communications at businesses near Ground Zero. He died in March, leaving behind two girls, now ages 3 and 4. “My husband was only 35 when he was diagnosed with lung cancer,” said Cathleen Knecht, 38, of Berkeley Heights, N.J. “He was a nonsmoker and a swimmer.” Thousands more are sick, suffering from respiratory illnesses. Nearly 400 firefighters and paramedics have left the job because of career-ending illnesses that followed their work at Ground Zero. “This was a toxic waste site,” says David Worby, the attorney for some 5,200 Ground Zero workers. “People should have been walking around in moon suits. … These guys are the tip of the iceberg.” Worby’s firm has a class-action lawsuit pending in Manhattan Federal Court that accuses government officials and construction contractors of exposing workers to dangerous levels of toxins. An estimated 40,000 people worked at the site in the months following the attacks. But city attorneys urge caution, saying a medical link is still to be established. … (NYDaily News, By Robert F. Moore and Thomas Zambito, January 14, 2006)
  • Sept. 11 workers die of health problems; direct link to ground zero unclear … While thousands of people who either worked at or lived near the site have reported ailments like the “trade center cough” since the terrorist attacks, some say that only now are the consequences of working at the site becoming heartbreakingly clear. … The city department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which is tracking the health of 71,000 people exposed to Sept. 11 dust and debris, said this week that it is too soon to say whether any deaths or illnesses among its enrolled members are linked to trade center exposure. But Robin Herbert, who directs a medical-monitoring program at Mount Sinai Medical Center for more than 14,000 ground zero workers, said “certainly it is not inconceivable” that a person could die of respiratory disease related to Sept. 11. … Rep. Jerrold Nadler, whose congressional district includes the trade center site, blames some of the illnesses on the failure to provide some workers with proper masks or respiratory protection. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found in 2004 that one in five workers wore respirators while they worked at the site to block out the dust laced with asbestos, glass fibers, pulverized cement and other chemicals. Nadler has asked the federal government to renew air-quality testing for ground zero dust in and around the trade center, and said more monitoring is needed. “All the people exposed should be monitored for life,” said Nadler, “so that we know what happened.” (NYNewsday/AP, by Amy Westfeldt, January 13, 2006)
  • Toll from 9/11 climbs, albeit too quietly .… “No one cares at the job,” Zadroga, a decorated cop, had written in a letter one year after the 9/11 atrocity. “They tell me I’m fine, go back to work. But, truthfully, I haven’t felt this bad in my life. … And what thanks do I get now that I’m sick?” There’s an old joke about the inscription on a tombstone: “I told you I was sick.” Zadroga told them and told them and told them. Finally, with supporting letters from doctors, there was agreement and retirement in 2004, his tax-free pension benefits equivalent to about three-quarters of the salary he’d been earning as a detective with the elite Manhattan homicide unit. … (Toronto Star, by Rosie Dimanno, January 13, 2006)
  • Sierra Club’s Green Small Screen … One of 9/11’s most lingering national tragedies is also its least visible. Not the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, nor our increasingly surveilled and militarized “homeland,” but the thousands — or tens of thousands — of people who were left physically and mentally wounded by the World Trade towers’ collapse.Take Mike McCormack. He was a member of the team of rescue workers who uncovered the flag that once flew atop the World Trade Center. That same flag appeared at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah, even as McCormack was struggling with chronic, debilitating health problems. … (AlterNet, january 12, 2006)
  • “World Trade Center Cough” a Growing Concern …. There is more evidence that the number of people sick with 9/11 related illnesses is growing dramatically. So much so – there’s a name for it — “the World Trade Center cough”. And there is a waiting list for victims seeking medical help. It’s similar to what may have killed NYPD Officer James Zadroga who spent hundreds of hours at ground zero. His funeral was yesterday. It is a warning sign of what’s to come: more and more people seeking help for deteriorating lung problems and chronic coughs linked to their work at ground zero. The numbers appear to be growing and the long term diagnosis is not good. Dr. Robin Herbert: “There is a certain core group of people who have become very ill as result of their World Trade Center exposure and aren’t getting any better.” That core group, according to the co-director of Mt. Sinai’s World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program, is estimated to be in the hundreds and growing. Dr. Herbert, Mt. Sinai Hospital: “We have a three to four month waiting period for new patients to come into our treatment program because the demand is so tremendous.” John Graham: “My lungs are burnt from the concrete dust.” John Graham is not getting any better. John: “I have a severe breathing problem … the tests are clear I had no breathing problem before 9/11.” As a carpenter, he helped in the clean-up at ground zero for months breathing in the toxic mix of fumes he says destroyed his lungs and made it impossible for him to work. His fear now is a battery of powerful drugs will eventually fail to keep him alive. John: “Every breath I take hurts that much more it’s exhausting.” Marie Pellegrino: “His health went downhill starting with that cough, and that cough started at ground zero.” Chris Pellegrino worked for months as a cable installer at ground zero, months of breathing in poisonous smoke and dust. He developed “the World Trade Center cough,” his lungs disintegrated, he lost his job. When he died at age 42, he looked nearly as old as his mother. …. Mt. Sinai is currently treating 1,600 people with similar symptoms, and hundreds more are on a awaiting list. With that list growing, the government has yet to spend a dime on medical treatment. Dr. Herbert: “To date at this point there’s been no public funding available to provide treatment for WTC responders with illness and it’s really a sad and terrible situation.” There is some hope that Congress will set aside some funds for the treatment of those with World Trade Center illness, but more than four years after 9/11, they’re still trying to work it out. … (7Online, Jim Hoffer, January 11, 2006)
    Goodbye to dad poisoned by 9/11 … While an autopsy is still pending on 34-year-old Zadroga’s official cause of death, the NYPD did award him a tax-free disability pension of three-quarters pay in July 2004. Zadroga’s mother, Linda Zadroga, said her son, who developed the infamous World Trade Center cough, was diagnosed by doctors as having black lung disease. Zadroga, who logged nearly 500 hours during the recovery effort at Ground Zero, died last Thursday. … (NYDaily News, Jan. 11, 2006)
  • Union Claims Detective’s Death Result Of Work At WTC Site … Michael Palladino, the head of the Detectives Endowment Association, says there are many more who may die because of their work following the terror attacks. “Many first responders are sick, some more than others,” says Palladino. “Detective Zadroga is the first, but unfortunately I do not think he is going to be the last.” … (NY, January 08, 2006)
  • Retired Detective’s Death Attributed to 9/11 Duty … A detective who retired from the New York Police Department in 2004 because of illness related to Sept. 11 died last week, a union official said yesterday. The detective, James Zadroga, 34, who ended his career with an elite Manhattan homicide unit, died of pulmonary disease on Thursday at his parents’ home in New Jersey, said Michael J. Palladino, president of the Detectives’ Endowment Association. Other detectives have retired from the department because of disabilities resulting from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but Mr. Zadroga is the first emergency responder to die of a related illness, Mr. Palladino said. The Police Department could not immediately provide the number of officers who have retired because of 9/11-related injuries. “He was in Building 7 when it collapsed, and he narrowly escaped death,” Mr. Palladino said. “For the next month, he worked 12 or 13 hours a day, a total of more than 450 hours, in the rescue and recovery effort.” Soon afterward, Detective Zadroga complained of shortness of breath and was found to have fiberglass in his lungs, Mr. Palladino said. Detective Zadroga suffered from other health problems, including mercury in his brain, Mr. Palladino said, adding that autopsy results were expected tomorrow. Mr. Zadroga’s death was reported yesterday in The Daily News and The New York Post. In July 2004, Detective Zadroga retired with a disability pension as a result of pulmonary disease related to Sept. 11, a tax-free benefit equivalent to three-quarters of his salary, the police said. … (NYTimes, by Kareem Hahm, January 8, 2006)
  • Ground Zero hero, 34, dies … A young police detective who spent nearly 500 hours sifting through rubble at Ground Zero has died of a lung disease connected to his cleanup efforts, police union officials said yesterday. … (Newsday, by Lindsay Faber, January 8, 2006)
  • Dad: NYPD abandoned son … As the father of a retired NYPD detective prepares to bury his son, he insisted yesterday that the former cop died because of his work at Ground Zero – and that he was abandoned by the Police Department he used to love. … (Daily News, by John Lemire, January 8, 2006)
  • A cop dies & kin blame 9/11 debris …. A retired NYPD detective, who worked more than 450 hours at Ground Zero, died Thursday from brain and respiratory complications that his family insists were linked to the World Trade Center cleanup. While autopsy results are pending, union officials maintain James Zadroga’s death is the first post-9/11 death of a city officer linked to hazardous material from Ground Zero. … NYPD officials said Zadroga, 34, was given a tax-free disability pension of three-quarters pay in 2004. His pension was the result of a pulmonary disease related to 9/11, a police official said. After leaving the NYPD, Zadroga was responsible for his own medical bills. “The department afforded the detective every medical option available,” said NYPD Chief Michael Collins, a department spokesman. Still, Zadroga’s parents said he left behind $50,000 in medical bills. They also said neither the city nor the NYPD has ever acknowledged to them that their son’s illness was tied to Ground Zero. “They didn’t treat him well,” said his father, Joseph Zadroga, a retired police chief in North Arlington, N.J. … (NYDaily News, by Robert F. Moore and Alison Gendar, January 7, 2006)
    Union: Retired police officer’s death linked to Sept. 11 cleanup … “Although James is the first, unfortunately I do not think he is going to be the last,” Palladino said Saturday. Zadroga died Thursday at his home in Little Egg Harbor, N.J., officials said. Results of an autopsy conducted by the Ocean County (N.J.) medical examiner’s office were pending. … (NYNewsday/APJanuary 7, 2006)
  • Editorial: Wishes for 2006 … *The work to demolish Fiterman Hall finally begins and the inexcusable delays in taking down this blighted building near 7 W.T.C. end. Officials with the State Dormitory Authority and the City University say the project will begin this spring. Over four years after 9/11, we sure hope that the Fiterman demolition imbroglio won’t call for the special services of former U.S. Senate majority George Mitchell, who mediated an agreement to begin work at the shrouded Deutsche building hovering over the W.T.C. … *The Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center continues to look for ways to reduce the construction pain on residents and workers and to keep everyone informed of developments. … (Downtown Express, January 6 – 12, 2006)
  • 9/11 COP’S LUNG DEATH …. A police detective has died from lung disease, which the NYPD believes he contracted while working at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks. The tragedy makes James Zadroga, 34, the first rescue worker to die from illness attributed to the Ground Zero rubble, a police spokesperson said yesterday. … Zadroga, whose wife died two years ago from cancer at age 29, was in 7 World Trade Center when it started to collapse. He spent another 470 hours in the soot-filled wreckage. One month after he returned to the Manhattan South precinct, Zadroga fell ill. Within two years, he developed “black lung disease,” police said. (NYPost, by Murray Weiss, January 7, 2006)
    Film uses Downtown home for 9/11 documentary … It was McCrary who led him to 114 Liberty St., a building that physically survived the nearby destruction but was severely contaminated and required extensive cleaning and gutting. At this particular address, residents were forced out of their homes for more than three years. … (Downtown Express, By Steven Snyder, January 6 – 12, 2006)
  • Compensation for WTC Rescue Workers … The money had become part of a political tug of war between the White House and members of Congress from New York. It is a relief to see that the money is going where it should have gone all along. It is only regrettable that it took this much time. … (El Diario/La Prensa: Editorial, 01/01/06)
  • EPA Testing to Begin Despite Panel Critics … The methods and scope of an Environmental Protection Agency plan to test Downtown apartments for remaining World Trade Center contaminants was widely denounced last month by the agency’s own expert panel, elected officials and environmental activists. … “We are back to a situation where the EPA appears to want to spend the money and walk away from the problem,” said Morton Lippman, a professor of environmental medicine at New York University and a member of the EPA WTC Expert Technical Review Panel. “If this is what is proposed, nothing should be done.” In spite of the criticism, which included denunciations by Sen. Hillary Clinton and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the agency said it will go ahead with its $7 million plan, first announced on Nov. 29 … But some panel members said the plan was so flawed that they could not advise residents to participate. They criticized the testing methods and the exclusion of commercial spaces and parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan that were reached by the plume of acrid smoke. “I can’t in good conscience tell anyone they should be part of this,” said Mark Wilkenfeld, an environmental and occupational physician at Columbia University. Catherine McVay Hughes, the panel’s community liaison, agreed. As an example of a flawed testing method, she noted that contaminants in an HVAC system could be missed because only frequently-cleaned common areas in buildings would be tested. In the panel’s contentious final meeting on Dec. 12, members told Oppelt that after 21 months of work, their input was ignored by the EPA. “I really feel like I’ve wasted my time the past two years on this panel,” said Jeanne Stellman, professor at the Columbia University School of Public Health. … (Tribeca Trib, By Etta Sanders, January 2006)
  • What If They Poisoned our Neighborhood and Nobody Told Us? Politicians and scientists say the Environmental Protection Agency is reneging on its post-9/11 promises … About a dozen journalists and a similar number of scientists and political activists braved a Friday morning snow storm last month, to gather in Congressman Jerry Nadler’s downtown office (on Houston and Varick), where New York’s Junior Senator, Hillary Clinton, alongside Nadler, blasted the Environmental Protection Agency for reneging on its commitment to clean up Lower Manhattan. …. And they’re not testing work places, only residential buildings, maintains Wilkenfeld, “although, interestingly enough, the EPA did test their own office building.” The testing, restricted to residences, is voluntary. “Now, what’s the incentive for a landlord – other than a co-op, which is tenant-owned – to test his building and discover that it’s contaminated?” Wilkenfeld is asking. This and other aspects of the EPA’s decision making process may be tested in court soon. According to Congressman Nadler, there are a few lawsuits already pending. Back in March, 2004, a group of 12 Manhattan residents and workers filed a class action suit against the EPA for its alleged failure to ensure that environmental hazards resulting from the collapse of the WTC had been properly removed before it allowed residents back into the area. Senator Clinton and Congressman Nadler described the EPA actions in that instance as blatant deception. Our own Dr. Marc Wilkenfeld is a bit more reserved when he suggests the EPA’s information at the time was not consistent with the truth. …(Grand Street News, by Yori Yanover, January 2006)
  • Scariest building in New York: Jitters over demolition of toxic tower near WTC … The 40-story shell at 130 Liberty St. stands as a ghastly testament to the devastation of 9/11; to many residents of downtown Manhattan, it is the scariest building in New York. The former Deutsche Bank headquarters, located on the edge of Ground Zero, is filled with a toxic brew of asbestos, lead, cadmium, dioxin, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other poisons deposited after the collapse of the twin towers. And now, the planned demolition of the structure — scheduled to begin later this month — has ignited passionate fears that the neighborhood again will be exposed to a cloud of contaminated debris. Public hearings on the demolition have been packed. The only problem: The public hasn’t been allowed to speak or ask questions. Furious protesters, including local residents and environmental activists, repeatedly disrupted one recent meeting, shouting down speaker after speaker. Some placed blue tape over their mouths to symbolize being gagged. “Why are you censoring the victim?” shouted one red-faced man. “Take your speeches outside!” bellowed Michael Haberman, a spokesman for the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which oversees post-9/11 rebuilding downtown and now owns 130 Liberty St. To those who live in its shadow, it is easy to understand why emotions run high when the topic of 130 Liberty St. comes up. … Some of the toxic plume created by the tower’s collapse settled into 130 Liberty’s gaping hole. Still unsettled by those events, many local residents fear that the scariest building in New York is about to become much scarier. In the coming weeks, the LMDC is scheduled to begin the job of tearing it down, floor by floor. Contractors have begun erecting scaffolding all the way to the top. Within the next two weeks, workers are scheduled to begin cleaning the poisonous interior. With most buildings, that wouldn’t be a big deal. But nearby residents fear the deconstruction will be a bit like Pandora deciding to open that little box. … TROUBLING SAMPLES: Since 9/11, consultants repeatedly have found toxic dust inside and outside 130 Liberty. In the last study, in the fall of 2004, six of 10 wipes from the building exterior contained unsafe asbestos levels, including a sample that measured 25 times the acceptable level. That same consultant found lead at unacceptable levels in four of 10 samples. The biggest fear is that once the building starts coming down, a toxic cloud will waft through the neighborhood. Tests done by neighbors indicate 130 Liberty asbestos already may have escaped. In October 2004, an apartment dweller at 125 Cedar St., directly across the street, tested samples of grit wiped from his window sills, tables and floors. Three of nine samples showed levels far above the threshold the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says requires “aggressive cleanup action,” according to documents provided to the Daily News. One floor sample measured 20 times the EPA’s “aggressive cleanup action” level and one window sample was recorded at 25,200 times the federal threshold, the documents state. For months, tensions have been rising over 130 Liberty’s demise. … Federal regulators recently decided to decline a so-called partnership with contractor Bovis Lend Lease that would have allowed the company to self-police much of its work.In October, Bovis approached the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, hoping to enter into such an agreement regarding job safety. OSHA partnerships can mean less stringent enforcement and monitoring of job safety rules. Such agreements existed during the Ground Zero cleanup. OSHA never announced its decision to reject the offer, but according to minutes of an Oct. 19 LMDC deconstruction meeting, Bovis “reported OSHA refusal to enter into partnership agreement,” and that the agency had requested security clearance for 10 inspectors to “regularly visit the site.” Bovis referred questions to the LMDC, where spokesman John Gallagher noted that OSHA had signed off on the final deconstruction plans, which were approved in September. He declined to discuss OSHA’s decision not to enter into a partnership on the project. OSHA New York Director Richard Mendelson said the agency based its decision on concerns about safe disposal of dangerous dust and the tricky nature of the demolition job. … On Friday, a worker fell from the scaffolding and was taken to the hospital. “The incident did not result in any impact on the surrounding community,” said the LMDC. The fall followed a Nov. 28 community complaint to OSHA about tradesmen “working near open-sided floors without any form of fall protection.” OSHA investigated and determined that contractors had adequate safety measures in place. … MANY PLANS: Compounding fears is LMDC’s history of needing to revise its deconstruction plans because of safety concerns. The first contractor LMDC hired, Gilbane Construction, had never demolished a building as contaminated as 130 Liberty. It presented a plan using open outrigger nets that the LMDC came to believe would have allowed debris to fly off the roof to the street below. Gilbane’s plan to clean up the toxic mess inside the building also forgot to include cleaning up dust behind walls and under floors — an omission that inspired the EPA to reject the entire plan. As a result, Gilbane was replaced by Bovis. Bovis presented a plan with enclosed netting that would have caught debris. But it also proposed a demolition method that involved dropping one entire floor onto the floor below — a method ultimately deemed unsafe. Another aspect of the Bovis plan also rejected: using a huge crane at the top to swing large containers with debris down to the ground, according to documents and people familiar with the plan.The current plan involves breaking up portions of each floor, loading them into smaller containers and bringing them to the ground via elevatorlike hoists. … The complexity of the demolition has driven up costs from the original projection of $135 million ($90 million to buy the building and $45 million to take it down). As of last week, $153 million had been spent. The LMDC now projects costs will total $164 million. Of that amount, the state has spent $18 million to monitor neighborhood air for toxic leaks and to maintain the building, documents show. The rising costs also can be blamed on the deconstruction delays. The LMDC originally predicted the building would be gone by “late 2005, early 2006.” Last week, the agency offered a new timetable — spring 2007. … (NYDaily News, by Greg B. Smith, January 1, 2006)

 

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