Air Today . . . Gone Tomorrow Article

Critics hit LMDC for lax Plan to deal with Deadly Dust
By Adam Hutton, AMNewYork, January 26, 2005

Rep. Jerrold Nadler yesterday called the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation "irresponsible" for the way it is handling the demolition of the Deutsche Bank building that filled with toxic World Trade Center dust on 9/11.

New tests have found dangerous levels of contaminants in the building at 130 Liberty Street, including asbestos concentration 100 times greater than the threshold for health risks.

Cleanup crews hired by the LMDC have found toxins in parts of the building that were not tested before. The demolition plan submitted by the corporation last month to the Environmental Protection Agency did not address dangerous chemicals such as asbestos, lead and dioxins that are still trapped in enclosed spaces, such as ventilation ducts and wiring shafts.

The corporation released the results of the new tests at a public meeting Monday night attended by more than 100 local residents and environmental safety and health advocates.

LMDC vice president Amy Peterson told the group that the plan would have to be adjusted to take the new information into account.

But Peterson told amNewYork yesterday that the LMDC would not resubmit the modified plan to environmental and public safety agencies for approval.

"That’s terribly irresponsible," Nadler, a Democrat, told amNewYork. "The LMDC should not be cutting corners by modifying the plan without resubmitting it. And the EPA should insist that they resubmit the plan based on all the information the LMDC has, otherwise the public can’t rely on the plan to keep them safe."

Peterson said taking time to make the necessary changes to the plan should not be considered a delay, but rather the due course of developing a good plan.

She said that although the corporation had hoped to begin tearing down the building this month, contractors won’t start the work until the EPA and other regulatory agencies make recommendations about how to improve the plan.

That’s the way it should be, said Dr. Marc Wilkenfeld, of the Columbia University Medical Center’s Environmental Health and Safety Department "Nothing should happen until we have an iron-clad plan in place that will protect people’s health."

Wilkenfeld, a sub-contractor to the LMDC on the project and a member of the EPA’s WTC Expert Technical Review Panel, told amNewYork "What we should shoot for is tearing down this building in a way that no worker or community resident is exposed to any contamination that even approaches dangerous levels."

Peterson said that the LMDC has been applying "aggressive timelines" to the project to remove the 9/11 relic sooner rather than later. "This has been hanging over lower Manhattan for three years now," Peterson told amNewYork. "It’s time."

But Dave Newman, a member of the EPA’s review panel, told amNewYork, "The LMDC has been too hasty in its push for demolition before it has an adequate and complete plan."

Newman, an expert with the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, said "the environmental sampling results shared with the public for the first time Monday indicate a need to amend the plan to take into account contamination in ventilation systems and other enclosed spaces, like those between interior and exterior walls."

Residents afraid for their health criticized the corporation for not taking their concerns seriously enough. Others said the LMDC needed to improve its emergency action plan to ensure that all residents and workers in the area are notified if contaminants are released into the air.

"The LMDC is in over its head," said Kimberly Flynn of 9/11 Environmental Action. "The public must be treated as a capable, reliable ally in the design phase of this project."



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