Air Today . . . Gone Tomorrow Article

Federal Officials Cleared Ground Zero's Air Quality Too Soon after 9/11
By Robert Gearty, Daily News, New York Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News, March 11, 2004

The federal government exposed thousands of people to health risks by clearing them to return downtown after the World Trade Center attacks, a class-action lawsuit filed yesterday charged.

The suit filed in Manhattan Federal Court alleges that people were allowed to go back to their homes, offices and schools in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn "with no proper cleanup having occurred."

Plaintiffs Jim Gilroy, 55, and his 4-year-old daughter, Anamae, went back to their Tribeca apartment after the federal Environmental Protection Agency declared the area safe. "They said it was okay, and we believed them," said Gilroy, who attributes his sinus problems and his daughter's rashes to the exposure to dust from the collapsed towers.

"I don't know if they were lying or incompetent, but they should not have come out with that if they didn't know."

The 112-page lawsuit accuses EPA officials, including former Administrator Christie Whitman, of a "shockingly deliberate indifference to human health."

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and reimbursement for cleanup and seeks the establishment of a medical monitoring program for people who were exposed to the dust.

EPA regional administrator Jane Kenny said she had not had the opportunity to review the lawsuit and could not comment specifically on it. "It is important to note that EPA staff performed remarkable feats in the aftermath of the World Trade Center collapse under the most trying of circumstances," she said.


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