News Release

Government Cover-up on WTC Health Effects?

Suzanne Mattei
Mattei is author of the just-released report “Air Pollution and Deception at Ground Zero.” Head of the Sierra Club’s New York office, she said today: “Among our findings in the report are:

* “The Bush administration knew the health risks and ignored its own long-standing body of knowledge about the harmful products of incineration and demolition. It should have issued a health warning immediately on that basis.

* “This is not a matter of putting a political spin on a few early press releases. What we uncovered was a long-term effort to prevent the public from knowing the health hazards. They looked so as not to find. And when they did find, they either didn’t tell us or came up with embarrassingly weak excuses for why we shouldn’t be concerned.

* “For example, the federal government surveyed EPA’s own office employees three months after the attack, found out that they were still sick, but never told the public. It was published in a journal, but the public never knew.

* “Many workers at and near Ground Zero did not have proper health and safety protections. And the Bush administration refused to enforce worker safety requirements at Ground Zero.”

Mattei added: “Based on a review of new national emergency plans, the administration plans to perpetuate its failed policies in any future national disaster anywhere else in the United States.”
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Joel Kupferman
Kupferman is the executive director of the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project and counsel to the Uniformed Firefighters Association in New York City. He authored the article “The Public Health Fallout from September 11: Official Deception and Long-Term Damage” and conducted samples and Freedom of Information requests which uncovered many of the problems now gaining attention. He said today: “We are pursuing a lawsuit against the EPA and continue to discover very hazardous situations downtown.”
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Cate Jenkins
Jenkins is a 24-year specialist with the EPA’s Hazardous Waste Identification Division. She said today: “On July 15, 2004, I provided the EPA Inspector General with the first documentation that EPA had actually concealed hazardous air data after 9/11. EPA explicitly stated in a series of press releases that tests for asbestos were below a certain specific level, while at the same time having in their possession tests from New York City showing asbestos above this level. EPA only referred to their own tests, which were questionable to begin with. Yet, EPA had in its possession at the time other data from New York City showing just the opposite, and concealed it from the public. New York City also concealed its data. When New York City finally released the data in 2002, it altered the results in many cases to show lower, non-hazardous levels. This deliberate concealment raises the liability of EPA and New York City from the mere misrepresentation of hazards, to the level of a deliberate, knowing falsification and disregard for public safety. EPA and New York City can no longer hide behind their ‘sovereign immunity’ defense in litigation brought by those now and in the future suffering permanent disability after the World Trade Center collapse, the living victims of 9/11.”
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Jo Polett, Kimberly Flyn
Polett and Flyn work with 9/11 Environmental Action, an organization of downtown New York City residents. Polett lives seven blocks from the World Trade Center site and has been diagnosed with Reactive Airways Disease. She said today: “For more than two years, we have been working to force the EPA to clean World Trade Center hazards from indoor spaces in all affected neighborhoods, and to expose the government’s misconduct in response to those hazards… To this day, I continue to meet area residents and workers who have not received proper diagnosis and treatment of illnesses caused by exposure to WTC dust and smoke. Because the government refused to conduct comprehensive testing inside area buildings following the collapse of the World Trade Center, we will never know the extent and nature of the contaminants to which people were exposed as they heeded false safety assurances and returned to their homes and offices.”

Flyn said today: “It’s a scandal that, to this day, there has never been an adequate cleanup of the vast majority of indoor spaces in Lower Manhattan. There has never been proper testing in place like Brooklyn where it ‘snowed’ dust and debris for several days…. We urge the president to order the proper agencies back to take care of unfinished business in New York. In addition, residents of Lower Manhattan, who felt the impact of the government’s negligence first hand, have a very important message for the rest of the country: The Bush administration needs to fix what went wrong in New York right now. If there is another terrorist attack that creates a toxic threat, with dangerous dust and chemicals filling the air and infiltrating buildings, the government needs to make sure that what happened in New York never happens again. The Sierra Club’s report is the document that connects all the dots we have…. These lessons must be put into practice in order for the words ‘Homeland Security’ to mean anything to the people on the ground.”
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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