Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.) is calling on President George W. Bush to stop what he calls EPA's "dereliction of duty" and force the agency to follow its legally mandated procedures to clean up hazardous contamination from the attacks of 9/11.
Nadler sent a letter to Bush claiming that "two days after the attack, your EPA initiated a strategy of misleading the public and providing false assurances about air quality following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and that the EPA refused to comply with its mandate under the law to clean up contamination resulting from a terrorist attack. This situation continues to this day, three years after the attack by al Qaeda on New York."
He went on to say that that starting in August 2003, the EPA Inspector General (IG) released a report confirming conclusions that were developed over a year earlier, namely that the EPA lied to the public, and that the agency was not adequately doing its job under the law. "The IG report found that a limited, unscientific cleanup of selected sites performed by EPA as a result of our investigation was not adequate to comply with federal laws that govern protection of the public health and environment," Nadler noted. "The IG report also found troubling evidence that the White House instructed the EPA to downplay post-9/11 air quality and public health concerns in New York City."
Following the release of the IG Report, EPA created a "Blue Ribbon panel" to allegedly correct some of the problems identified with EPA's response to the terrorist attack. That panel has now operated under the direction of the EPA for a year, "and has yet to take any substantive actions to protect the public health and environment," Nadler complained in his letter to the president.
"Meanwhile, more than 3 years after the attack, rescue workers in New York and from other jurisdictions in the country who responded to the attacks, are now suffering serious health effects as a result of exposure to hazardous substances at the site. A recent General Accounting Office (GAO) report documented that ninety percent of the firefighters and EMS workers at the site had respiratory ailments. The GAO Report also found that the people living and working in Lower Manhattan experienced health effects similar to first responders, and that almost 75 percent of respondents living near the WTC site experienced respiratory symptoms. The EPA has not taken adequate action to decontaminate indoor spaces consistent with federal law, nor has the federal government assisted people exposed with actual medical treatment," he added.
Nadler pointed out that EPA has received numerous requests from the community, his office and other elected officials "to do its job under the law and protect the public health and environment. Those pleas continue to fall on deaf ears."
He complained that correspondence to the administration remain unanswered, Freedome of Information Act requests remain unfulfilled, and promises made to provide information before Congressional committees have not been kept, and he called upon Bush to "provide the victims of the terrorist attack in New York the actions and answers they deserve."