Report Confirms Problems with EPA WTC Indoor Test and Clean Program

Oct. 1, 2007
Prepared at the request of Sen. Hillary Clinton D-N.Y., as well as Congress members Jerrold Nadler D-N.Y. and Carolyn Maloney D-N.Y., a recently released

Prepared at the request of Sen. Hillary Clinton D-N.Y., as well as Congress members Jerrold Nadler D-N.Y. and Carolyn Maloney D-N.Y., a recently released Government Accountability Office (GAO) report detailed serious flaws in EPA's second program seeking to address the indoor contamination resulting from the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC), as well as the agency's ability to deal with future disasters involving indoor environmental impacts.

“EPA and the Bush administration ignored the advice of scientific experts, dragged their heels and failed to produce a real program to test for and clean up toxic World Trade Center dust in people's homes and offices,” Clinton said. “We need a new clean up program from EPA and a renewed commitment to be better prepared for future disasters.”

Released on Sept. 5, the report noted that the program was inadequately financed and poorly implemented. Most disturbingly, the GAO report says the EPA cleanup program has not been made available to every household contaminated with toxic World Trade Center dust following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

In addition, GAO said testing should have been extended to people living in Brooklyn and parts of Manhattan farther away from Ground Zero. The report also said EPA was wrong to have left the job of testing workplaces to other federal agencies and found that EPA ignored the advice of its own technical experts - members of the “EPA World Trade Center Technical Review Panel” - in the development of the plan, with 16 out of 18 of the panel members not endorsing the plan. Further, the independent analysis concluded that EPA's early inaction led to its total failure, to date, to properly “characterize” the extent of the WTC contamination and that EPA officials misled the public when they mischaracterized the results of earlier asbestos testing. EPA's first post-9/11 testing and clean up program, conducted in 2002 and 2003, also had similar failures and was forcefully criticized by EPA's own Inspector General (IG). The second program also didn't live up to one of the recommendations made by the IG: to develop an approach to determine or “characterize” the actual extent of the World Trade Center contamination in the New York metro area.

Looking forward, the report also warns that EPA is not prepared to respond to future disasters that have an indoor contamination component because EPA has still “not developed protocols on how and when to collect data to determine the extent of indoor contamination.”

The GAO report makes several recommendations for EPA, namely, that it should communicate risks to the public by presenting environmental data in a clear and appropriate context, create guidelines for estimating program costs and swiftly develop protocols that specifically address indoor contamination. GAO notes that if EPA continues to fail in its responsibility, “important public health needs, including resident and worker health, may not be promptly addressed.”

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

DH Pace, national door and dock provider, reduces TRIR and claims with EHS solution

May 29, 2024
Find out how DH Pace moved from paper/email/excel to an EHS platform, changing their culture. They reduced TRIR from 4.8 to 1.46 and improved their ability to bid on and win contracts...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!