Friday, February 03, 2006

we breathe, they decide

It’s hard to say how personal I want to make this, but as someone who lived just a dozen blocks north of the World Trade Center that fateful September morning, I don’t know whether to be more angry or scared.

Late Thursday, Manhattan Federal Judge Deborah Batts ruled that lawsuits by downtown New York residents could proceed against the Environmental Protection Agency and its then commissioner, Christine Todd Whitman (or, as the New York Times affectionately calls her, “Christie”). The suits alleged that Whitman, speaking on behalf of her EPA (or was it Bush’s EPA), lied when she declared the air safe just days after the collapse of the World Trade Center.

“Whitman's deliberate and misleading statements to the press, where she reassured the public that the air was safe to breathe around lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, and that there would be no health risk presented to those returning to those areas, shocks the conscience,” Judge Batts wrote.

“By these actions,” Batts added, Mrs. Whitman “increased, and may have in fact created, the danger” to people living and working near the trade center.

About 50,000 personal computers, 424,000 tons of concrete, 2,000 tons of asbestos, and untold tons of other toxic junk were turned to dust when the towers fell. I was walking around in a stupid surgical mask for days afterwards—I’d gag and cough when I took it off. That’s not a scientific assessment, but, apparently, neither was Christie’s.

[I just want to add these few points:
  • In recent months, three first responders have died from respiratory diseases that most concede are related to the toxic dust.
  • The EPA still won’t cop to what was really measured in the air over four years ago.
  • An expert panel couldn’t get agreement with the EPA on testing and cleanup last year, so the agency is going ahead with its own program in spite of objections from residents.
  • And, that plan, as crummy as it may be, only covers residents south of Canal Street. My place? Two blocks north of Canal. Thank god the city put up that giant invisible air filter to keep the toxic dust from crossing the street.]


Post a Comment

<< Home