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Thread: Whitman Denies Misleading Public On Air Quality After 9/11

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    Whitman Denies Misleading Public On Air Quality After 9/11

    Whitman Denies Misleading Public on Air Quality After 9/11

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/04/ny...=1&oref=slogin

    "Given the scope of the tragedy from last week, 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." - Christie Todd Whitman

    By JULIA PRESTON
    Published: February 4, 2006

    Christie Whitman, the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, yesterday rejected as "completely inaccurate" a federal judge's ruling that found she had misled people near the World Trade Center site about the risks of air contamination after the Sept. 11 attack.

    In a statement, Mrs. Whitman disputed the ruling on Thursday by Judge Deborah A. Batts of Federal District Court in Manhattan. Judge Batts decided not to dismiss a class-action suit against Mrs. Whitman and the E.P.A. on behalf of residents and schoolchildren from the area near ground zero, finding that Mrs. Whitman had falsely reassured them in the days after the attack that the air was not dangerously polluted. Judge Batts concluded that Mrs. Whitman was not entitled to immunity as a government official.

    But Mrs. Whitman said: "I firmly believe that the agency's findings that the air quality was safe were correct. Every action taken by the E.P.A. during the response to this horrific event was designed to provide the most comprehensive protection and the most accurate information to the residents of Manhattan."

    In coincidence, another judge in the same courthouse issued a ruling on Thursday in a separate but almost identical case against Mrs. Whitman and the agency — and he reached the opposite conclusion.

    After a hearing late Thursday, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein dismissed the suit in his court, accepting virtually the same arguments by Justice Department lawyers that Judge Batts had rejected. Judge Hellerstein was convinced that Mrs. Whitman should be immune.

    The lawyer representing the plaintiffs in the second case said he would appeal, and Mrs. Whitman said she expected the Justice Department to appeal Judge Batts's ruling. A department spokesman, said lawyers there were reviewing that ruling.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    Whitman Details Ongoing Agency Efforts to Monitor Disaster Sites, Contribute to Cleanup Efforts [En Español]

    http://www.epa.gov/wtc/stories/headline_091801.htm

    September 18, 2001

    EPA Administrator Christie Whitman announced today that results from the Agency's air and drinking water monitoring near the World Trade Center and Pentagon disaster sites indicate that these vital resources are safe. Whitman also announced that EPA has been given up to $83 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support EPA's involvement in cleanup activities and ongoing monitoring of environmental conditions in both the New York City and Washington metropolitan areas following last week's terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

    "We are very encouraged that the results from our monitoring of air quality and drinking water conditions in both New York and near the Pentagon show that the public in these areas is not being exposed to excessive levels of asbestos or other harmful substances," Whitman said. "Given the scope of the tragedy from last week, I am glad to reassure the people of New York and Washington, D.C. that their air is safe to breath and their water is safe to drink," she added.

    In the aftermath of last Tuesday's attacks, EPA has worked closely with state, federal and local authorities to provide expertise on cleanup methods for hazardous materials, as well as to detect whether any contaminants are found in ambient air quality monitoring, sampling of drinking water sources and sampling of runoff near the disaster sites.

    At the request of FEMA, EPA has been involved in the cleanup and site monitoring efforts, working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and state and local organizations.

    EPA has conducted repeated monitoring of ambient air at the site of the World Trade Center and in the general Wall Street district of Manhattan, as well as in Brooklyn. The Agency is planning to perform air monitoring in the surrounding New York metropolitan area. EPA has established 10 continuous (stationary) air monitoring stations near the WTC site. Thus far, from 50 air samples taken, the vast majority of results are either non-detectable or below established levels of concern for asbestos, lead and volatile organic compounds. The highest levels of asbestos have been detected within one-half block of ground zero, where rescuers have been provided with appropriate protective equipment.

    In lower Manhattan, the City of New York has also been involved in efforts to clean anything coated with debris dust resulting from Tuesday's destruction. This involves spraying water over buildings, streets and sidewalks to wash the accumulated dust off the building and eliminate the possibility that materials would become airborne. To complement this clean up effort, EPA has performed 62 dust sample analyses for the presence of asbestos and other substances. Most dust samples fall below EPA's definition of "asbestos containing material" (one percent asbestos). Where samples have shown greater than one percent asbestos, EPA has operated its 10 High Efficiency Particulate Arresting, HEPA, vacuum trucks to clean the area and then resample. EPA also used the 10 HEPA vac trucks to clean streets and sidewalks in the Financial District in preparation for Monday's return to business. The Agency plans to use HEPA vac trucks to clean the lobbies of the five federal buildings near the World Trade Center site, and to clean the streets outside of New York's City Hall.

    Drinking water in Manhattan was tested at 13 sampling points, in addition to one test at the Newtown Sewage Treatment plant and pump station. Initial results of this drinking water sampling show that levels of asbestos are well below EPA's levels of concern.

    While FEMA has provided EPA with a Total Project Ceiling cost of slightly more than $83 million for the Agency's cleanup efforts in New York City and in at the Pentagon site, EPA currently is working with emergency funding of $23.7 million. If costs exceed this level, FEMA will authorize EPA to tap additional funding in increments of $15 million. As part of the additional funding to be provided by FEMA, EPA will be responsible for any hazardous waste disposal, general site safety and providing sanitation facilities for many of the search and rescue workers to wash the dust off following their shifts. EPA is coordinating with both the U.S. Air Force Center for Environmental Excellence and the U.S. Coast Guard to quickly implement these additional responsibilities to ensure that search and rescue personnel are provided with the maximum support and protection from hazardous materials that may be found during their mission.

    At the Pentagon explosion site in Arlington Va., EPA has also been involved in a variety of monitoring of air and water quality. All ambient air monitoring results, both close to the crash site and in the general vicinity, have shown either no detection of asbestos or levels that fall well below the Agency's level of concern. Testing of runoff water from the disaster site does not show elevated levels of contaminants. Given the large numbers of Department of Defense (DOD) employees returning to work this week, EPA has worked closely with officials from DOD and from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to evaluate air and drinking water quality and to be certain that the workplace environment will be safe.

    While careful not to impede the search, rescue and cleanup efforts at either the World Trade Center or the Pentagon disaster sites, EPA's primary concern has been to ensure that rescue workers and the public are not being exposed to elevated levels of potentially hazardous contaminants in the dust and debris, especially where practical solutions are available to reduce exposure. EPA has assisted efforts to provide dust masks to rescue workers to minimize inhalation of dust. EPA also recommends that the blast site debris continue to be kept wet, which helps to significantly reduce the amount of airborne dust which can aggravate respiratory ailments such as asthma. On-site facilities are being made available for rescue workers to clean themselves, change their clothing and to have dust-laden clothes cleaned separately from normal household wash.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    'Outraged' Whitman defends 9/11 stand
    Ex-EPA boss okay with safe air quality edict

    http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/index....860.xml&coll=1

    Saturday, February 04, 2006
    BY RON MARSICO
    Star-Ledger Staff

    Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman yesterday defended her decision to tell residents and workers it was safe to return to a still-smoldering Lower Manhattan in the days immediately after 9/11, saying she is "outraged" by a federal judge's contention that she jeopardized the public health.

    On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts refused to grant Whitman immunity in a class action lawsuit. The judge said the former New Jersey governor's reassurances that the air downtown was safe in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, collapse of the Twin Towers were "conscience-shocking." The judge said Whitman knew the collapse had released tons of hazardous materials into the air.

    The lawsuit was filed in 2004 by residents, students and workers who say they were exposed to hazardous materials from the World Trade Center's destruction.

    In a statement, Whitman, who resigned as governor in January 2001 to take over as head of the EPA, said she stands by "the agency's findings that the air quality was safe" and noted the U.S. Department of Justice is contemplating a quick appeal of Batts' decision.

    "From the moment the planes hit the World Trade Center, the men and women of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, relying on decades of experience in responding to natural and manmade disasters around the world, began to do everything in their power to protect the people of New York," Whitman said in her statement.

    "Every action taken by the EPA during the response to this horrific event was designed to provide the most comprehensive protection and the most accurate information to the residents of Manhattan," Whitman said. "To imply otherwise is completely inaccurate."

    Heather Grizzle, Whitman's spokeswoman, said the former governor was traveling out of the country yesterday and was unavailable for interviews. Grizzle declined to identify Whitman's destination.

    On Sept. 13, 2001, Whitman, holding a high-tech respirator in her hand, conducted a small news conference on Canal Street north of Ground Zero and declared to reporters the air over Lower Manhattan was safe to breathe. She and the EPA issued other similar statements in the days and weeks that followed.

    Later, however, the EPA's Office of the Inspector General criticized the agency, saying officials did not have the data necessary to assure residents the air was safe.

    Whitman, in her statement yesterday, said statements made at the time were "based on assessments by environmental and health professionals."

    Staff writer Alexander Lane and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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