Air Today . . . Gone Tomorrow Article

Officials Prod EPA - Urge Cleanup of Apartments Near WTC
By Margaret Ramirez, Newsday Staff Writer, March 9, 2002

    Responding to increasing concerns about contaminated air and dust inside lower Manhattan buildings, several city officials Friday demanded that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency test and clean up apartments near Ground Zero. The request came during a special City Council hearing on the environmental response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
    A frustrated City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Forest Hills) told a panel of federal and city environmental officials that they had failed to help residents clean up dust that could contain asbestos, fiberglass and other toxic substances. "We're looking at apartments that probably never should have been reoccupied. We're looking at novices that are cleaning this up with wet rags and wet mops. I'm just not happy with novices cleaning up toxic materials," said Gennaro as a crowd of residents in the audience applauded.
    At the hearing, several dozen residents, as well as parents whose children attend schools in lower Manhattan, wore surgical masks and held up signs that said, "Stop Poisoning Our Kids," and "Protect the Living."
    Mayor Michael Bloomberg Friday signaled that the city may be taking a more active role in the matter when he and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the formation of a new Downtown air quality task force. The task force will be led by the Office of Emergency Management and will set up a hotline to answer questions and provide information on environmental conditions of Downtown Manhattan.
    "Public confidence in the air quality around the World Trade Center site is essential to the revitalization and economic growth of Downtown," the mayor said. "We cannot attract residents and businesses back into lower Manhattan unless they know they are safe."
    After a Senate hearing last month on World Trade Center air quality, EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman set up an Indoor Air Task Force. EPA officials initially said they had not conducted indoor testing because the city had taken that responsibility.
    At Friday's hearing, Kathleen Callahan, regional director of the EPA's division of environmental planning and protection, said the federal agency was considering using Federal Emergency Management Agency money for indoor testing and clean-up. Callahan would not confirm when or if indoor testing and clean-up would begin.
    "I think all the agencies involved - city, state and federal - are going to collaborate on what's necessary to assure that people's indoor environments are safe. And how that is going to be done is still an open question," Callahan said.

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 purposes.

Take me back to learn more