9-11 World Trade Center Dust Cloud: How Many Will Die!

9-11 World Trade Center Dust Cloud: How Many Will Die!

The dustification” and the implosion of the World Trade Center (WTC) towers sent clouds of carcinogenic dust across New York City.

Movie2

111

These towers were built in the late 1970s and asbestos was one of many carcinogenic materials that were used in their construction. Everyone familiar with construction and the carcinogens that are contained in high rise structures, immediately knew that there was a grave risk for all who were downwind from the dust cloud which was formed from the burning and crumbling of the building.

Despite the obvious, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christie Whitman said a week after the attacks: “I am glad to reassure the people of New York … that their air is safe to breathe and their water is safe to drink.”

In the Friday, January 11, 2002 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle, there was a reprint of a Washington Post article titled “The Residents Near Ground Zero Worry About Toxic Debris,” which explains the initial effects of the dust cloud upon those who live downwind from the WTC towers.

The article, in explaining some of the after effects of the dust cloud, stated: “… those who live or work downtown report strikingly similar symptoms: nosebleeds, sore throats, bronchial infections and an endless hacking cough .… About one-fourth of the city’s firefighters have complained of severe coughing after working at ground zero, and more than a thousand have filed notices of claims against the city.”

Last week, four Port Authority police officers were reassigned from the site after they tested positive for elevated mercury levels in their blood. “… Dozens of students at nearby Stuyvesant High School have complained of rashes, nosebleeds, headaches and respiratory infections. Three teachers have left because of respiratory problems.”

The article goes on: “There was something about the air. For a while after Sept. 11, George Tabb and his wife tried to stick it out in their apartment north of the World Trade Center, tried to ignore his twice-nightly asthma attacks and her headaches. Eventually, they moved in with Tabb’s stepfather. But Tabb still goes home to pick up his mail, and within 20 minutes the metallic taste returns to his mouth, and the wheezing. ‘All of a sudden, boom, I’ve got a nosebleed, the asthma, a headache’, he said. Recently, Tabb received evidence that the air in his apartment may be as dangerous as he suspects. Independent tests—results of which are disputed by the city—found that dust taken from an air vent in his apartment building’s hallway contained 555 times [!!!] the suggested acceptable level for asbestos. Samples from a bathroom vent show dangerous levels of fiberglass. No one knows what was burning down there at ground zero,’ he said. ‘I am concerned that in five years or 10 years, I’m going to be part of a cancer cluster.’”

Cate Jenkins
Cate Jenkins

CATE JENKINS, PhD, a 22-year specialist with the EPA’s Hazardous Waste Identification Division and the author of a 432-page memo to the EPA’s Inspector General as background documentation for the recently released IG report.On January 11, 2002, a memorandum was sent by Cate Jenkins, Ph.D., the head EPA hazardous waste investigator in lower Manhattan after 9/11. This memorandum compared the asbestos levels in the Montana, Libby Hazardous Waste Superfund Site to the levels she found in Lower Manhattan.   (In Libby, Montana almost 30% of the Libby residents were hurt by asbestos.)

Three months after 9/11, the levels of asbestos found in lower Manhattan were higher than the Libby Superfundsite! And yet the EPA claims Manhattan to be “safe”!

Jenkins, who was the head EPA expert at the Libby site, was transferred, by the EPA, to Manhattan, after the twin towers events.  In her memo, she calls for lower Manhattan to be covered by the Superfund Statute. A full copy of the memo, and her other memos on the same subject, can be found on the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) web site.

In the memo she states:

The highest level of dust inside a building in Manhattan was 79,000 structures (asbestos fibers) per square centimeter (s/cm2). This was at 45 Warren St., an apartment building 4 blocks away from Ground Zero where all of the windows faced north, away from the World Trade Towers,locked in on all other 3 sides by other buildings. To the casual observer, this apartment would not be described as being heavily contaminated. There is a color photograph included at the beginning of the study,8 where a dining room table showing only a light dusting from WTC fallout, the dark grain of the wood clearly visible. In comparison, the highest concentration of interior dust found inside a home at Libby was only 3658 s/cm2. This means the highest amount of asbestos lying on a surface in Manhattan was 22 times that ever found in Libby. The logical question thus arises: Why is EPA leaving people to their own devices in the cleanup of New York City, while intervening to clean homes at taxpayers expense in Libby because of an ‘imminent and substantial endangerment to public health’?” Under point 3 of the memorandum “ADVANTAGES FOR A CLEANUP UNDER SUPERFUND”, she goes on to state: At this time, I believe that the best solution to the problem in Lower Manhattan is to invoke one or more parts of the Comprehensive Environmental Response and Liability Act (CERCLA), or Superfund. It would bring order to the situation and begin to alleviate the current exposures to asbestos, fiberglass, fine particulates, and other toxic substances like mercury and lead. It would enable the use of better methods to test and monitor the contamination, particularly for asbestos. It would take the financial burden away from citizens and transfer them to the government. It would add credibility to the final solution after the action was completed. Under CERCLA, there would be a point in time where the government could announce that the action was finished, and that Manhattan was restored. Otherwise, there will be no opportunity for the government to declare closure.

Two Types of Action under Superfund are Possible

In Montana, the governor exercised the “silver bullet” option under CERCLA by requesting that EPA put Libby on the fast track for listing on the National Priorities List, which means making it a Superfund site. As a result, Libby does not have to wait years for EPA to assess its hazards and make comparative cost-benefit judgements. Federal money would go immediately to the cleanup, although the state would be required to contribute 10% of the costs. The costs should not be a problem to New York, as the federal government is already contributing as much as it will take to put Manhattan back together. Another option would be to declare a public health emergency under the CERCLA authority. Even though Libby is now scheduled for fast track Superfund listing, EPA is now apparently intending to invoke this other authority to address the situation at Libby. EPA has never before invoked this authority under CERCLA. If EPA does invoke it for Libby, it should be no problem to use it for Lower Manhattan.

EPA won’t do its job

Yet the EPA has refused to warn people of the hazards or even admit the potential of hazards to life itself. The EPA has repeatedly told residents the air is safe to breathe. The article goes on to explain: “

But the EPA also found more troubling results, which it did not release until after the nonprofit New York Environmental Law and Justice Project filed a Freedom of Information Act request. These tests found elevated levels of dioxin, PCBs, lead and chromium, all toxic substances, in the air, soil and water around the site. In a Sept. 26 EPA test, for example, three of 10 samples near the attack site showed elevated readings for lead. An Oct. 11 EPA test in the ground zero area found benzene, a colorless liquid that evaporates quickly but can cause leukemia in long-term exposure, measured 58 times above the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s limit.

Those results weren’t released until late October. These materials, under Proposition 65 in California are “known to the State of California to cause cancer, but obviously not to the EPA!

In referring to the EPA’s statements, the article quotes Joel Kupferman, the Executive Director of the Environmental Law and Justice Project: “’They’ve [EPA] created this false climate that things are safe,’ he said. Alerted to concerns about Tabb’s building, he said, ‘the project hired an independent industrial hygienist to conduct tests of surfaces there on Dec. 3, using methods published by the American Society for Testing and Materials. The tests found the presence of settled asbestos 555 times above the suggested acceptable level.’ … Scientists with HP Environmental Inc. of Reston, VA, warn that the asbestos dust in Lower Manhattan is so finely pulverized that the EPA’s more conventional tests may not pick it up.”

The sad fact is that all of these future deaths from cancer and other diseases could have been prevented if the Environmental Protection Agency had lived up to its name. In actuality, the EPA continues to be primarily concerned with protecting the profits of the construction companies that produce buildings made of carcinogenic materials rather than its presumed reason for existence.

Cancers from these known carcinogenic particles that were released by the WTC Towers implosion take 20 to thirty years to develop. And in addition to the cancer epidemic that will erupt in New York City in the next few decades, a significant proportion of the tens of thousands of construction workers, like myself (I am a retired painter and work-related cancer victim), will continue to suffer the consequences of our exposure to carcinogenic materials. In my view, this failure of the construction industry and the EPA to do the job it is ostensibly paid to do, is an act no less criminal than any other murder-for-profit crime.

The Aftermath of 9/11: EPA Ignores Dust Pollution from World Trade Center (an update of the human catastrophe)

114

The implosion of the World Trade Center (WTC) towers sent clouds of carcinogenic dust across New York City. These towers were built in the late 1970s, and asbestos was one of many different carcinogenic materials that are contained in the buildings.

Everyone familiar with construction and the carcinogens contained in high-rise structures immediately knew that there was a grave risk for all who were “downwind” from the burning and dustification of the building.

Despite the obvious, Environmental Protective Agency (EPA) Administrator Christie Whitman said a week after the attacks: “I am glad to reassure the people of New York … that their air is safe to breathe and their water is safe to drink,”

The Jan. 11, 2002, issue of the San Francisco Chronicle reprinted a Washington Post article titled, “Residents near ground zero worry about toxic debris.” The author, Christine Haughney, reported that:

. . . those who live or work downtown report strikingly similar symptoms: nosebleeds, sore throats, bronchial infections and an endless hacking cough. … About one-fourth of the city’s firefighters have complained of severe coughing after working at ground zero, and more than a thousand have filed notices of claims against the city. . . . Last week, four Port Authority police officers were reassigned from the site after they tested positive for elevated mercury levels in their blood. … Dozens of students at nearby Stuyvesant High School have complained of rashes, nosebleeds, headaches and respiratory infections. Three teachers have left because of respiratory problems. . . . The article continues: For a while after Sept. 11, George Tabb and his wife tried to stick it out in their apartment north of the World Trade Center, tried to ignore his twice-nightly asthma attacks and her headaches. Eventually, they moved in with Tabb’s stepfather…. But Tabb still goes home to pick up his mail, and within 20 minutes the metallic taste returns to his mouth, and the wheezing. ‘All of a sudden, boom, I’ve got a nosebleed, the asthma, a headache,’ he said. Recently, Tabb received evidence that the air in his apartment may be as dangerous as he suspects. Independent tests-results of which are disputed by the city-found that dust taken from an air vent in his apartment building’s hallway contained 555 times [!] the suggested acceptable level for asbestos. Samples from a bathroom vent show dangerous levels of fiberglass. ‘No one knows what was burning down there’ at ground zero, he said. ‘I am concerned that in five years or 10 years, I’m going to be part of a cancer cluster.’

Yet the EPA has refused to warn people of the hazards or even admit the potential of hazards to life itself. The EPA has repeatedly told residents the air is safe to breathe.

The article goes on to explain: But the EPA also found more troubling results, which it did not release until after the nonprofit New York Environmental Law and Justice Project filed a Freedom of Information Act request. These tests found elevated levels of dioxin, PCBs, lead and chromium, all toxic substances, in the air, soil and water around the site.

In a Sept. 26 EPA test, for example, three of 10 samples near the attack site showed elevated readings for lead. An Oct. 11 EPA test in the ground zero area found benzene, a colorless liquid that evaporates quickly but can cause leukemia in long-term exposure, measured 58 times above the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s limit.

Those results weren’t released until late October. These materials, under Proposition 65 in California, are “known to the State of California to cause cancer,” but obviously not to the EPA!

In referring to the EPA’s statements, the article quotes Joel Kupferman, the executive director of the Environmental Law and Justice Project:

‘They’ve [EPA] created this false climate that things are safe,’ he said.Alerted to concerns about Tabb’s building, he said, ‘the project hired an independent industrial hygienist to conduct tests of surfaces there on Dec. 3, using methods published by the American Society for Testing and Materials. The tests found the presence of settled asbestos 555 times above the suggested acceptable level.’ … Scientists with HP Environmental Inc. of Reston, Va., warn that the asbestos dust in Lower Manhattan is so finely pulverized that the EPA’s more conventional tests may not pick it up.

Cancer from these known carcinogenic dusts released by the WTC towers implosion takes 20 to 30 years to develop. From my understanding of the risks from carcinogenic materials that I and other house painters have been exposed to during the course of work (”According to the International Association for Research on Cancer, “occupational Exposure as a Painters is carcinogenic.”), exposures 555 times the legally permissible level may well create a catastrophe hundreds of times more destructive to human lives than the initial implosion!

In fact, on January 11, 2002, in a report by Cate Jenkins, of the EPA Hazardous Waste Identification Division stationed in Manhattan, compared asbestos levels found in lower Manhatten to the Libby, Montana Superfund site. Her conclusion was that lower Manhatten should also be declared a Superfund ste. Needless to say, the EPA has ignored its own report.

In January, 2002, I attended a panel discussion “reporting back” about the hazardous conditions from the implosion of the World Trade Center. This meeting was sponsored by Cal-OSHA, “Worksafe!,” and other safety organizations. The reporters explained that The Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard (HAZWOPER) cleanup regulations were suspended for the cleanup of the World Trade Center dustpile.” And that OSHA was prevented from enforcing work safety regulations and relegated to merely an advisory status. (Employers thus faced no penalties for putting workers at risk.)

The haste to rapidly dispose of hazardous waste, unencumbered by safety regulations, compounded the environmental damage and the catastrophic damage to humans working and living in the affected area. To make matters worse, the government led people to believe that things were safe.  They did not inform the workers and residents in the area of the immediate risks and long range risks to their longevity.

It is obvious that the government is/was aware of these risks, because it suspended safety regulations. (If conditions truly were safe, then regulations would not have to be suspended.) The knowledge of the long range potential liabilities of the building contractors, the asbestos companies, and other producers of carcinogens, is also why the government is now proposing to put limits on asbestos litigations. The driving force behind these actions was the economic necessity to hasten the reopening of Wall Street— a clear illustration of profits being more important than human lives.

June 2002