News Release

Environmental Fallout of WTC Attack

JUAN GONZALEZ
Available for a very limited number of interviews, Gonzalez is author of the book Fallout: The Environmental Consequences of the World Trade Center Collapse, which came out in 2002. He co-hosts the program “Democracy Now!” and will be moderating a community forum this evening at St. Paul’s Church, near the site of the World Trade Center — “Affected but Neglected: The Impact of 9/11 on Community Health and A Call for Federal Action.”
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LEA GERONIMO
Geronimo is a co-founder of the Beyond Ground Zero Network, an advocacy organization working with low-income and immigrant communities suffering health effects from the World Trade Center disaster.
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JOEL KUPFERMAN
Kupferman is the executive director of the New York Environmental Law & Justice Project, which has been disseminating information about the aftermath of 9/11 since just after the attacks. He said today: “Internal government memos we have acquired suggest that misrepresentation of the health effects of the 9/11 attacks directly led to serious long-term health problems for Ground Zero workers. Additionally, residents, students, and employees of Ground Zero area businesses were exposed to poisonous air toxins when they were allowed to re-enter the ‘red zone.’

“On October 5, 2001, the Chief of the Response and Prevention Branch for the EPA notified the N.Y. City Department of Health of its concern that Ground Zero workers were daily being exposed to a wide variety of hazardous dangers from three major sources including destroyed building material such as asbestos, on-site hazardous material storage such as refrigerants, and combustion products from smoldering debris. The EPA memo concludes with a recommendation for the DOH to implement and enforce health and safety procedures for Ground Zero workers. This document serves as further proof that EPA officials were aware of the severity of the danger at Ground Zero in contrast to their public statements at the time.

“The New York Environmental Law & Justice Project, along with others, warned in 2001 that WTC site first responders were working under dangerous conditions and that allowing re-occupancy would place New Yorkers in imminent and substantial danger of adverse health effects. Yesterday’s Mt. Sinai study demonstrating that 70 percent of Ground Zero workers have experienced serious health effects confirms the fears of the New York Environmental Law & Justice Project. This begs the question, could provision of adequate equipment and training about how to avoid exposure have prevented the diseases and other consequences we see today?

“We are concerned that current air quality at Ground Zero and surrounding areas may continue to expose untold numbers of workers, residents, visitors, and students to unacceptable levels of hazardous air. FOIL and FOIA requests made by the Project to the DOH about current air quality data have been met with resistance.”

The New York Environmental Law & Justice Project, whose web page features relevant government documents, is co-counsel in the pending lawsuit, Benzman v. Christine T. Whitman and U.S. EPA, which seeks to hold the former U.S. EPA administrator personally responsible for falsely attesting to the safety of the Ground Zero air.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167