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9/11 cleanup urged: EPA critics say toxic fumes contaminated boro
By Hugh Son, Daily News Staff Writer, January 28, 2005

Despite the toxic plume that blanketed Brooklyn after the Sept. 11 attacks, the borough is not included in a federal plan to clean up contaminated debris.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency's plan will first test downtown Manhattan homes and offices for asbestos, silica, lead and other toxins, an EPA official said.

"The EPA fully recognizes some people would like us to go to Brooklyn now, but it's really just a practical matter of, 'We had to start somewhere,'" the official said, adding Brooklyn may be included in a later cleanup.

Critics said Brooklyn should be in the first round of voluntary cleanups, expected to start in Manhattan as early as June.

"It's essential to investigate the possibility of remaining contamination in Brooklyn," said David Newman, an environmental scientist on a World Trade Center community advisory panel.

"It's just as probable that contaminants found their way to Brooklyn as it has to parts of lower Manhattan."

Satellite photos taken after the attacks showed a murky cloud crossing the East River to downtown Brooklyn, he said.

In November, the EPA released a draft of its extended cleanup plan, which would include Manhattan up to Houston St. In 2002, the EPA cleaned 4000 apartments in Battery Park City and Tribeca.

Under pressure from the panel, the EPA has now agreed to the expanded Manhattan cleanup - but so far not in Brooklyn.

"Everyone in Brooklyn knows since Sept. 11 that the cloud of debris and toxins went directly over Brooklyn, and the health impact in Brooklyn is just as great as in Manhattan," said Councilman David Yassky (D-Brooklyn Heights).

Rep. Major Owens blasted the EPA for ignoring the possible 9/11 contamination of Brooklyn residents "because they have the wrong zip code."

If toxins are found in Manhattan, then the cleanup will be expanded to Brooklyn, the EPA official insisted.

But officials from the panel were concerned that the EPA would never reach the second phase.

"It's taken so long to get to where we are today, who knows if phase two will ever happen," asked Catherine Hughes, a member of the WTC community panel.

The community advisory report also advised that the EPA widen the contaminant list to include mercury and dioxin and give guarantees that the federal government will pay for the costly cleanup.


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