Superfund money looked at for cleanup
By Staff Reports
Sep 14, 2001
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Environmental Protection Agency is
looking at using Superfund money to help clean up the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Tests of rubble from the World Trade Center show
elevated levels of asbestos, EPA spokesman Chris Paulitz
Firefighters, police and other rescuers at the scene --
not to mention those who escaped the wreckage -- could
develop pneumonia or asthma-like symptoms, health experts
But EPA testing in Brooklyn, a mile and a half downwind
from the World Trade Center wreckage, shows lead, asbestos
and organic chemicals in the air are either undetectable or
not at high enough levels to cause concern, Paulitz said.
The EPA plans to collect air and soil samples from the
buckled and fire-charred section of the Pentagon that was
struck by an airliner.
Paulitz said treating the two locations as Superfund
sites without formally declaring them so is allowed by laws
dealing with hazardous waste.
EPA officials in New York handed out masks and goggles
to rescuers and encouraged them to wet down the debris to
help protect themselves from asbestos, smoke and dust.
Asbestos was commonly used as insulation prior to
EPA Administrator Christie Whitman said it is the
biggest environmental hazard from the terrorist attacks
Tuesday, other than the smoke itself.
"My main concern is that we continue to monitor dust in
the air," Whitman said Thursday afternoon as she was on her
way to downtown Manhattan. "Right now, there's no immediate
health threat to people outside the ground-zero area."
If inhaled, asbestos fibers can lead years later to
cancer and a deadly lung disease called asbestosis.
Most cases of asbestos-related disease are caused by
repeated exposure rather than a single dose, lung experts
Whitman said the EPA has offered its long-term
assistance in disposing of the debris blanketing downtown
Manhattan but does not expect permanent environmental
damage from the attacks.
The EPA chief said her 22-year-old son, Taylor, was in
World Trade Center building 7 when the planes stuck the
Twin Towers. Whitman said he walked down 42 flights of
stairs, then called her on his cell phone to tell her he'd