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WTC Plan Causes Concern
Over Clean Up
By Alex Cukan, National Desk, April 9,
NEW YORK, April 9 (UPI) -- The agency charged with rebuilding the
16-acre site where the World Trade Center once stood released a "set of
principles" Tuesday to guide development of the site but some think the plan is
doomed if clean up is ignored. "If they go and build on a dirty foundation, there
will be no trust, people will get sick because "Ground Zero" has all the
characteristics of a Superfund site and the project will be doomed," Indira Singh, a
risk architect and volunteer emergency medical technician told United Press International.
"They have one chance to get this right, this year to do the clean up properly and if
they don't they will have wasted all the money put into the rebuilding at Ground
The Lower Manhattan Development Corp., a 16-member board of city and
state appointees, envisions Lower Manhattan as a bustling center of commerce, trade,
cultural institutions, arts, education, housing, retail, recreation and restaurants. The
LMDC is charged with overseeing redevelopment and distribution of $2 billion in federal
aid provided by the federal government in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the World
Matthew Higgins, the spokesman for the LMDC told UPI he did not have an
on-the-record response on the clean up issue but promised to provide one, but he did not.
At issue is the contaminated dust that settled over Lower Manhattan after the Twin Towers
collapsed on Sept. 11. The dust from the pulverized walls, concrete, wood, class and
plastic of the two 110-story Twin Towers covered several blocks surrounding the World
Trade Center and if windows were broken or open, the dust settled in apartments.
Last September, Joel R. Kupferman, an attorney at the New York
Environmental Law Justice Project in New York City, had numerous samples of the dust
tested by ATC Associates of New York City. "Analyses of our dust samples showed that
one in four samples tested contained 2.1 percent asbestos, which is more than double the 1
percent level at which a material is legally designated as hazardous, and is subject to
special abatement and removal procedures," said Kupferman. "These results were
consistent with those reported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with reported
levels as high as 3.3 percent asbestos in some samples."
In addition, a group from the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver came to
Lower Manhattan last September and through field testing and remote sensing flights found
the dust to be quite alkaline, according to Geoff Plumlee, a research geochemist with the
U.S.G.S. "On Sept. 27 we gave our results to the emergency responders and government
agencies including the EPA and then our results went under a detailed peer review and we
put the results on our Web site in November," said Plumlee.
Most of the U.S.G.S. samples had a pH of 9.5 to 10.5, two taken inside
a high-rise apartment and in a gymnasium across from the World Trade Center had a pH of
11.8 to 12.1 -- equivalent to that of liquid drain cleaner, the U.S.G.S. said. "The
clean up issues are not being addressed or considered by the LMDC," Sudhir Jain, of
the Lower Manhattan Tenants Coalition, told UPI. "Basically, we have called for
comprehensive indoor testing of the homes in Lower Manhattan but the LMDC has ignored this
-- we are seeking support from Sen. Hillary (Rodham) Clinton to urge the EPA to get more
involved in the testing and clean up."
The tenants also want the LMDC to seek input from the tenants sooner,
rather than later. For example, Jain said the agency wanted to add 60 ferries at North
Cove, in Battery Park City -- a residential area, but only after a couple of weeks of
protests by the tenants did the agency move back the ferries to an existing ferry hub.
In its preliminary plan, the LMDC wants to set up by this summer a
competition for a memorial to the more than 2,800 people who perished on Sept. 11 at the
World Trade Center and a transportation plan. "The process for the competition or the
memorial, how the competition will be structured, and who will administrate and judge the
competition should be ready be this summer," Higgens told UPI. "The time frame
for the entire project will also be made more clear this summer."
The "Blueprint for Renewal" released Tuesday includes: the
creation of an intermodal transit hub linking PATH (New Jersey), subway, and future
regional rail service; depressing West Street so it is no longer a barrier between Battery
Park City and the rest of Lower Manhattan; and creating a new at-grade boulevard that
incorporates attractive buildings and parks. "We must undertake the creation of a
memorial and the revitalization of the World Trade Center site with appropriate care, but
also with a sense of urgency," said John C. Whitehead, chairman of the LMDC.
"Together, the principles and blueprint provide a framework to undertake this
On the transportation plan, the LMDC will work with state Department of
Transportation, the city DOT, the Port Authority, the Metropolitan Transportation
Authority, the Battery Park City Authority, the Hudson River Park Trust, and other
involved groups and agencies. "Mass transit is the lifeblood of Lower Manhattan,
transporting hundreds of thousands of people each day by subway, train, ferry, bus,
bridges and tunnels, but there have been no new mass transit lines constructed in Lower
Manhattan since 1932, according to the LMDC.
Also released Tuesday by the LMDC are the "Principles for
Action" for Lower Manhattan development that include:
-- Making decisions based on an inclusive and open public process;
-- Creating a memorial honoring the victims of the terrorist attacks while reaffirming the
democratic ideals that came under attack on Sept. 11;
-- Assisting the rapid revitalization of Lower Manhattan, in a manner that does not
preclude desirable future development plans;
-- Coordinating and encouraging the infrastructure improvements that will trigger the
private investment needed;
-- Supporting the economic vitality of Lower Manhattan as the financial capital of the
-- Expanding and enhance public and open spaces.
In addition, the LMDC also approved a revised version of the Individual
Assistance Plan, which provides financial incentives to retain and attract residents to
Lower Manhattan and provides funding for job training to businesses south of 14th Street.
Residents near Ground Zero could get up to $12,000 over two years in rent or mortgage
assistance, but the residents of Chinatown, Little Italy and parts of the Lower East Side
could receive $1,000 one-time subsidies under a $277 million incentive plan. Households
with children could get an additional $1,500 to stay or live in Lower Manhattan. The
incentive plan is open for public comment until April 22.
"The trouble is that people are being lured to live near Ground
Zero because of the LMDC money, they didn't live through the dust cloud and they don't
know if their new home is contaminated or not because there has been no indoor
testing," Singh said. "They could use the money for the clean up but instead,
the LMDC and the LMTC have become two armies in a war over Lower Manhattan."
"The LMDC doesn't want to deal with us, it's as if those of us who
lived through Sept. 11 are tainted, like Vietnam War veterans, and they don't want those
of us still coughing to hang around and put a damper on their development plans," she
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