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January 16th, 2007

EPA’s Own WTC Experts on YouTube Denouncing Nearly Identical Version Of Current Plan

by SoHo Journal Staff

Today, as the federal Environmental Protection Agency launches its fatally flawed “Test and Clean Program,” for residual World Trade Center contamination in Lower Manhattan, 9/11 Environmental Action is releasing the link to a short clip on YouTube drawn from video footage of the final meeting of the EPA’s World Trade Center Expert Technical Review Panel held in December 2005. The clip shows Panel experts delivering devastating criticisms of the EPA’s November 2005 plan, an earlier, but nearly identical, version of the plan being launched by the EPA today, and advising EPA that the plan should not go forward. The panel’s Community Liaison Catherine McVay Hughes and Labor Liaison Micki Siegel de Hernandez express their disappointment at the fact that, in formulating its plan, EPA had ignored the input of the expert panel and of the community participating in the 21-month long panel process.

Sponsored by 9/11 EA, the clip was edited and produced by downtown resident and video producer Mary Perillo, from video footage shot by Barbara Caporale.

The clip was debuted as part of the testimony delivered by the World Trade Center Community-Labor Coalition at the January 11, 2007 oversight hearing of the City Council’s Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Committee on EPA’s latest plan.

At last Thursday’s hearing, representatives of 9/11 EA, along with representatives of other constituent organizations in the WTC Community-Labor Coalition, demanded that EPA withdraw its fraudulent plan and work with the community and elected officials to develop a scientifically sound testing and cleanup plan for World Trade Center residual contamination

How bad is the EPA’s latest “Test and Clean” program? Click on this YouTube link to watch footage from the final meeting of the EPA panel and hear what panelists have to say about the earlier version of this plan.

9/11 EA is the organization of downtown residents, school parents and environmental health advocates that, since April of 2002, has fought for a scientifically sound and effective EPA cleanup of contamination from the destruction of the World Trade Center. 9/11 EA spearheaded the community participation in the 21-month long WTC Expert Technical Review Panel process, which ran from May 2004 to December 2005, and is a member organization of the World Trade Center Community-Labor Coalition, a broad network representing hundreds of thousands of community and labor stakeholders in Lower Manhattan.

Background for the clip: How Did We Get Here? On 9/11, when the World Trade Center was destroyed, more than 1.2 million tons of toxic dust including asbestos, lead, PAHs, PCBs, mercury, fiberglass, silica and more, were released into the air. A massive dust cloud engulfed Lower Manhattan and penetrated into buildings. The cloud was carried by the wind over western Brooklyn. In the succeeding weeks and months, an acrid plume rose from the fires at the site and hung over neighborhoods near Ground Zero and well beyond.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which had responsibility for protecting the public from the toxic air, and for conducting indoor cleanup of buildings contaminated in the collapse, chose instead to lie about the dangers in the dust and smoke, announcing, within days of 9/11, that the air was safe to breathe. Downtown residents were told by EPA to follow the dangerous advice of the City Health Department and clean up the toxic WTC dust themselves “with a wet rag or mop.”

In May of 2002, in response to mounting pressure from downtown residents, office workers, school parents, from community and labor advocates, and from Congressman Jerrold Nadler and other elected officials, the EPA finally agreed to conduct a voluntary residential cleanup. The cleanup was poorly designed, technically and scientifically flawed, and far too limited. EPA excluded from the plan all workplaces, schools, and firehouses, as well as affected areas north of Canal Street and into Brooklyn. When the cleanup was over, only roughly 4000 of the estimated 30,000 apartments below Canal Street had been tested or cleaned

So inadequate was the 2002-2003 EPA cleanup, that, in August of 2003, the EPA’s own Inspector General issued a heavily critical report, citing EPA’s failure to meet minimum Superfund cleanup goals, failure to test and clean whole buildings as a system, failure to include all geographic areas impacted by WTC pollution, failure to include workplaces as well as residences, and other serious flaws.

Once again, in response to mounting pressures from affected communities and their elected officials, especially Senator Hillary Clinton, the EPA was forced to revisit the issue of remaining WTC indoor contamination, by convening the WTC Expert Technical Review panel. The panel, composed of government and independent experts, was charged with assessing and addressing remaining risks to area residents and workers from WTC indoor contamination.

The result of the Panel process was yet another rigged EPA plan that will result in very little cleanup. The plan seems designed to find as little contamination as possible, and to shore-up EPA’s coverup of its ongoing failure to protect the public from WTC contamination at a time when EPA is likely to face tough questions from Congress on its World Trade Center-related work.

Keep in mind that the final plan, released in December of 2006, is nearly identical and, in some respects, worse than the version of the plan being criticized in the clip.

Filed Under: New York | Politics





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