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Nadler: Apt. Cleanup 'Charade'
By Margaret Ramirez, Newsday Staff Writer, November 20, 2002

Attacking an apartment cleanup plan in lower Manhattan as a “charade”, Congressman Jerrold Nadler said Wednesday the federal government is avoiding stringent testing and cleanup measures and using inadequate methods to rid homes of World Trade Center dust.

To prove his point, Nadler spoke inside the still dust-filled two-bedroom condominium apartment of Ilona Kloupte. Nadler said despite the visible ash and soot on the windowsills and heating system, an Environmental Protection Agency representative designated the apartment for a minimal “scope A” cleanup.

In guidelines set by EPA officials for the massive apartment cleanup plan, scope A cleanup consists of HEPA vacuuming and wet wiping of floors, walls, ceilings, and ledges. In a scope B cleanup, areas containing bulk dust are sealed off and exhaust fans equipped with HEPA filters are used so that no dust escapes. “This is a public agency responsible for protecting public health,” said Nadler, “by not aggressively testing and cleaning these apartments they are putting the health of thousands of New Yorkers at risk.”

After the twin towers collapsed, Ilona Koupte, like hundreds of other residents, said she contacted officials for help cleaning her apartment. Instead, she said she was given a bucket and a mop.

For three days, she scooped dust out of her apartment. Weeks after, she developed a severe rash on her hands and face which doctors diagosed as an allergic reaction to chromium. Her doctor ordered her to leave the apartment and she has been living in a shelter for the past year and a half. “The EPA came to the apartment and said this was household dust,” Kloupte said. “My life has been destroyed. I lost my job. I lost my health. I lost my home,” she said.

Mary Mears, a spokeswoman for the EPA, said the agency continues to stand behind the lower Manhattan apartment cleanup plan and believes that it meeds the needs of residents to reduce the low risk of left-over dust. In addition, Mears said the EPA was aware of Kloupte's situation and offered to clean her apartment. But, Kloupte refused.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the EPA. has been harshly criticized by lower Manhattan residents and politicians for its response. Initially, the EPA said they were not responsible for apartment cleanup. In May, agency officials reversed themselves and announced a massive apartment cleanup plan.

Last month EPA officials released preliminary results of testing and cleanup saying that the vast majority of apartments had no asbestos contamination. But, Wednesday Nadler blasted those results. “They are only using passive testing, not aggressive testing, and they are doing that so they can come out and lie to the public and say that the homes are safe.”

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