Ground Zero: Clearing the Air (Part II)
|Assurances from Christine Todd Whitman in the days following the 9/11 attacks, the failure on the pile to enforce crews to wear respirators, and the virulent toxicity of the air have had rippling and devastating consequences year after year following the attacks.
FEBRUARY 3, 2006
US District Court Judge Deborah Batts calls Whitman's statements after the disaster, "misleading" and "conscience-shocking." She allows a class-action suit against Whitman to go forward against her and the EPA.
JUNE 5, 2006
A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of firefighters, police officers, and others working on the pile focuses on the respirators and the fact that, as the Times reported, "more than 150,000 such masks were distributed and only 40,000 people worked on the pile, but most workers either did not have the masks or did not use them."
SEPTEMBER 8, 2006
EPA chemist Dr. Cate Jenkins says EPA Lied About WTC Air
SEPTEMBER 24, 2006
"Condoleezza Rice's office gave final approval to the infamous Environmental Protection Agency press releases days after 9/11 claiming the air around Ground Zero was 'safe to breathe,' internal documents show."
JUNE 20, 2007
The statement of David M. Newman, New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, an industrial hygienist with the non-governmental, nonprofit organization, at the Senate Hearing on EPA's Response to 9/11, includes this:
"These findings indicated that workers and residents who returned to areas that were reopened to the public as safe one week after 9/11 were potentially exposed to concentrations of dioxin 'nearly 6 times the highest dioxin level ever recorded in the U.S." The findings also indicated that the dioxin concentrations to which rescue and recovery workers were potentially exposed were between 100 and 1,500 times higher than the levels of dioxin typically found in urban air. In another example, benzene was detected at Ground Zero in 57 of 96 air samples, at levels from 5 to 86,000 parts per billion (ppb). (The OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) for benzene exposure averaged over 8 hours is 1,000 ppb.)"
[U.S. Government Publishing Office]
JUNE 26, 2007
Ex-EPA Head Christine Todd Whitman Denies Misleading Public over Environmental Dangers After 9/11; Admits White House Removed EPA Call for NYC Apartments to be Professionally Cleaned of Dust
JULY 20, 2007
Congressman Steve Cohen questions Christie Todd Whitman in a Congressional hearing:
Whitman: "The thing of concern was to ensure that all of the information that the public needed to make intelligent choices was contained in those press releases and there was. As far the actual wordsmithing went, I left that to the people who were trying to get consensus from the various agencies and I have to presume that scientists were involved from the other agencies."
Cohen: "You presume but you don't know?"
Whitman: "No, I don't know."
SEPTEMBER 13, 2007
At a hearing of the House Education and Labor Committee, Democrats blame OSHA for not issuing citations at Ground Zero to ensure compliance for respirator use. OSHA Regional Director Patricia Clark testifies that the clean-up was a success because there were no fatalities during the process. Representative Nadler (D-N.Y.) responds, "Do you really think this was a success? When 70 percent of responders are sick, it was not a success, it was a catastrophic failure."
APRIL 22, 2008
Ex-EPA Chief Is Ruled Not Liable for 9/11 Safety Claims
MAY 7, 2012
EPA chemist and whistleblower Dr. Cate Jenkins wins her job back.
SEPTEMBER 10, 2015
CityLab reports in 2015, in an article titled 14 Years Later, Here's What We Know About 9/11 and Cancer, that there were more than 2,500 cases of cancer diagnosed among Ground Zero rescuers and responders. HHS adds 50 different cancers to the list of WTC-related health conditions. Dr. Raja Flores, chief of thoracic surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center, says the 'big three' are esophageal cancer, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
SEPTEMBER 10, 2016
Christie Todd Whitman finally admits she was wrong: "I’m sorry. We did the very best we could at the time with the knowledge we had."
But then she says something so odious that it's clear how hollow her apology is:
"Every time it comes around to the anniversary I cringe, because I know people will bring up my name, they blame me, they say that I lied and that people died because I lied, [they say] people have died because I made a mistake."
What a sad fate that she has to cringe once a year when so many people are sick or dead after her assurances that "the good news continues to be that the air samples have all been at levels that cause us no concern" (September 14, 2001) and that "I am glad to reassure the people of New York and Washington, D.C. that their air is safe to breathe and their water is safe to drink." (September 18, 2001).