Air Today . . . Gone Tomorrow Article|
Report: Bush 'Reckless'
on Post-9/11 Health Risks
By Mark Egan, Reuters, August 18, 2004
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Bush administration was guilty of reckless disregard by failing
to inform New Yorkers of health risks from toxic air after the collapse of the World Trade
Center in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, a leading environmental group said Wednesday.
In a Sierra Club report titled, "Air Pollution and Deception at Ground Zero: How the
Bush Administration's Reckless Disregard of 9/11 Toxic Hazards Poses Long-Term Threats for
New York City and the Nation," the influential group said the Bush administration's
mistakes are now in danger of becoming policy for handling future disasters.
"The Bush administration has learned nothing from the illnesses and hardships
suffered by the Ground Zero community. Rather, it plans to perpetuate them in any future
national disaster anywhere else in the United States," the report's author Suzanne
The destruction of the twin towers shot pulverized asbestos, lead, concrete, glass and
other debris into the air throughout lower Manhattan.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dismissed the report as "scare
tactics" and said it was committed to protecting the health of New Yorkers and
improving its emergency procedures.
"The American public should see this report for what it is: a blatant attempt to use
this tragedy for political gain," the EPA said in a statement.
The Sierra Club report was highly critical of how the Bush administration handled the
environmental impact of the towers' collapse, which claimed nearly 2,800 lives and
blanketed lower Manhattan with dust and debris.
SERIES OF CHARGES
Among the charges made in the report were:
--the Bush administration failed to warn the public immediately of long-standing evidence
that such a collapse would release toxins and make the air unsafe to breathe.
--that the EPA failed on at least a dozen occasions to change its safety assurances even
after it became clear people were getting sick.
--that the Bush administration failed to enforce safety requirements among workers on the
Ground Zero clean-up effort.
Last year the EPA, in an internal report by its Inspector General Nikki Tinsley, said the
White House pressured the agency to make premature statements that the air was safe to
The EPA issued an air quality statement on Sept. 18, 2001, even though it "did not
have sufficient data and analyzes to make the statement," the EPA report said, adding
that the White House "convinced the EPA to add reassuring statements and delete
cautionary ones." Among the information withheld was the potential health hazards of
breathing asbestos, lead, concrete and pulverized glass.
The Sierra Club report said hundreds of people were seriously ill as a result of breathing
contaminated air after the buildings fell. It said much of the dust was as caustic as
ammonia and had an effect akin to drinking drain cleaner.
Noting President Bush will accept his party's nomination for re-election in New York,
Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope urged him to take steps to properly clean the
remaining dust in lower Manhattan, fund long-term medical monitoring and treatment and
retract false safety assurances.
Copyright © 2003 Reuters Limited.
FAIR USE NOTICE
This article contains copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been
specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my
efforts to advance understanding of democracy, economic, environmental, human rights,
political, scientific, and social justice issues, among others. I believe this constitutes
a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US
Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107,
the material in this article is distributed without profit for research and educational
Take me back to learn more