Hours Before Bush Address, Nadler Demands that EPA Meet its Responsibility to Protect Americans

Feb 1, 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a press conference today with first responders and New York residents who suffer from 9/11-related health problems, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) renewed his call for the Environmental Protection Agency to take the lead in ensuring safe demolition of the Deutsche Bank building at 130 Liberty Street.

“I know we’re going to hear tonight about the President’s military response to 9/11, but I doubt we’ll hear much about his environmental response,” Congressman Nadler said.  “And that worries me.  EPA continues to ignore the health and safety needs of people living near Ground Zero, despite its legal obligation to act.  More than three years have passed since 9/11, but the environmental issues at Ground Zero are far from resolved.”

Under Presidential Decision Directive 62, and reiterated in the National Strategy for Homeland Security, issued in July 2002, EPA is mandated to clean up buildings contaminated in a terrorist attack.  Nadler recommends that the following measures be taken to protect people living and working in Lower Manhattan:

  • All test results from the building, unfiltered by government agencies, must be made public, on a website updated daily, for example.
  • Additional real-time testing of all contaminants known to be present in the building must be conducted in the surrounding area, as well, to detect any contamination released during the demolition.
  • A disinterested, independent party must monitor the entire operation.
  • Contingency plans must be put in place, and enforced, in the event that any of these contaminants escape during demolition.
  • The hazardous waste from the site must be properly handled so that there is no release into the community during transport, and it must be disposed of in a legally licensed hazardous waste facility.
  • The EPA must also conduct a comprehensive cleanup of all buildings contaminated by the collapse of the World Trade Center, and it must remove all dangerous substances known to be present, such as those documented at the Deutsche Bank.

In a letter to President Bush on October 29, 2004, Nadler wrote: “Unless the American people can trust the federal government to be honest, and to carry out its terrorism response authority, our national security is at risk, particularly if another terrorist attack should occur on American soil.”