Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) issued the following statement on the EPA's decision to expand testing around Ground Zero:
"It has been almost three years since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) appears to finally be taking a step in the right direction to characterize the environmental impact from the collapse of the World Trade Center. I am extremely gratified that an EPA-led expert panel has proposed to expand testing for hazardous substances beyond the arbitrary boundary of Canal Street, and to include testing of commercial buildings and schools. While this decision is a positive sign, the following measures must also be taken to properly protect the people of New York:
First, the test methodology used in this new round of tests must be the more sensitive, accurate test methods used by EPA at other hazardous sites around the country, such as at Libby, Montana. Second, the EPA must test for all contaminants known to be present at the WTC, such as lead, mercury, asbestos, dioxins, and PCBs. Third, the agency must test the dust as well as the air, so that all pathways of exposure are considered. All of this testing must be done in accordance with federal health and safety laws, and in a public and transparent manner so that the public can properly assess the results.
The statements made by EPA officials bring hope to the people living and working around Ground Zero, but as with all things, 'the devil is in the details.' EPA officials have indicated they will characterize entire buildings, and not just a single unit. This characterization must include the ventilation and duct work, which can be a source of recontamination. They have also signaled a willingness to conduct tests in Brooklyn. It is imperative that testing in Brooklyn become a reality. EPA must budget the necessary funds to perform these activities thoroughly and expeditiously.
I am also pleased that the EPA has said it will investigate the environmental and health risks at the Deutsche Bank building. I hope that no action is taken to demolish the building until the EPA completes its work at the building, and develops a contingency plan to manage the potential release of hazardous materials, consistent with the agency's mandate under federal law.
It appears the EPA is taking a step in the right direction, and finally doing its job at Ground Zero. I will continue to fight to make sure the EPA does its job right, and to ensure that the health and safety of the people of New York is protected."