Nadler Renews Demand for Complete WTC Clean-Up

Aug 5, 2003

Washington, D.C. - Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) today called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a comprehensive clean-up plan for buildings contaminated by World Trade Center debris.

Nadler's demand follows a study published in today's Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showing that pregnant women who were in or near the towers of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, may have given birth to smaller babies due to exposure of the debris from the towers.

"Clearly, exposure to WTC debris had an adverse impact on babies inside the womb. What other detrimental effects might there be from this exposure on the babies, as well as on their mothers and everyone else exposed to WTC dust? It is extremely troubling that people continue to be exposed to the debris while the people at the EPA rest on their laurels and do nothing about it," said Nadler.

Nadler first requested that the EPA clean up buildings contaminated by WTC debris shortly after the September 11 attacks. To confirm the effects of the debris, Nadler initiated an investigation of the EPA's response in January 2002 and issued a White Paper documenting the federal environmental agency's wrongdoing in April 2002. A full eight months following the terrorist attacks, the EPA announced a limited clean-up plan for residences south of Canal Street.

The EPA's plan to clean up WTC debris has many dangerous shortcomings, including:

  • The EPA will clean apartments only on request, which ignores the threat of cross- and recontamination from uncleaned apartments and from building HVAC systems.
  • The EPA plan provides for testing only for asbestos in the air and does not plan to assess dust or hard surfaces that are also pathways of exposure. Nor will the agency test for any of the other contaminants that were present in World Trade Center debris such as lead, mercury, dioxin and fine particulate matter.
  • The cleanup plan is available only south of an arbitrary boundary at Canal Street, cutting off other areas covered by the debris cloud, including parts of Brooklyn, Chinatown and the Lower East Side. Besides not dealing with many potentially contaminated areas, this presents an environmental justice problem.
  • The workers will not be wearing protective gear, which would seem to be a clear violation of OSHA regulations.
  • The EPA has developed this plan without public comment, and has not established a Citizens Advisory Group or held public meetings. It has not even established an Administrative Record accessible to the public.
  • The EPA refuses to clean commercial and public spaces and schools. The vast majority of commercial and public spaces downtown have had little or no remediation since the attacks.

"I'm sure the EPA, as it has since September 11, will say that they are taking care of the clean-up of WTC debris and that everything is fine. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is people are still being exposed to hazardous WTC debris. The EPA still has an opportunity, and an obligation, to abate this risk and protect the public health," said Nadler.