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Press Release - Setting The Record Straight: Air Quality And Worker Safety At Ground Zero

June 22, 2007

"Every effort was made by Mayor Giuliani and his staff to ensure the safety of all workers at Ground Zero in the aftermath of this unprecedented act of terror. All workers at Ground Zero were instructed repeatedly to wear their respirators. This is well-documented and indisputable. No one from the City ever tried to block the Environmental Protection Agency. Any statement or suggestion to the contrary is simply baseless. Administrator Whitman never voiced any of these concerns at the time — not at the daily meetings which included federal, state and local officials, not at any press conferences. Doing so now is revisionist at best."

— Joe Lhota, Former Deputy Mayor, 6/23/07

EPA ADMINISTRATOR WHITMAN ASSURED NEW YORKERS AIR WAS SAFE

"Less Than A Week After The Attack, On Sept. 16, EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman Told New Yorkers: 'There's No Need For The General Public To Be Concerned.'" (Andrew Schneider, "Public Was Never Told That Dust From Ruins Is Caustic," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/10/02)

EPA Administrator Christie Whitman Said Air Was Safe At Ground Zero The Week Of The Terrorist Attack. "The rubble of the Twin Towers is not posing a threat to the area's air or water, federal environmental chief Christie Whitman said [9/15/01]. … Addressing concerns over air and water pollution, she said, 'We're doing everything we can to monitor for every kind of contaminant we think might be present.' Although slightly above-normal levels of asbestos were detected following the attack Tuesday, and again briefly on Thursday, 'New York is safe,' said Whitman, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency." (Bob Groves, "Tests Show Air And Water Are Safe, Says Whitman," The [Bergen County] Record, 9/16/01)

Whitman Said People In Area Of Ground Zero "Not Being Exposed To Excessive Levels Of Asbestos Or Other Harmful Substances." WHITMAN: "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 … 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." (Environmental Protection Agency, "Whitman Details Ongoing Agency Efforts to Monitor Disaster Sites, Contribute to Cleanup Efforts," Press Release, 9/18/01)

"The EPA Has 18 Pieces Of Monitoring Equipment At The Trade Center Site Testing Air And Dust Particles Every 12 Hours, Whitman Said." (Bob Groves, "Tests Show Air And Water Are Safe, Says Whitman," The [Bergen County] Record, 9/16/01)

EPA Said Lower Manhattan Air Was Safe To Breathe, But Recommended Respirators For Rescue Workers. "'We've found that, by and large, the air in lower Manhattan is safe to breathe,' said Nina Habib, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spokeswoman. … Habib agreed that the air is not safe to breathe for rescue workers, and that's why they've been told to wear respirators." (Shelley Emling, "Despite Reassurances, Air Quality Still A Worry For New York," Cox News Service, 11/2/01)

Air Tests Concluded That If Workers Wore Safety Equipment, They Were At Minimal Risk. "And the results of tests on more than 3,000 air, dust and water samples collected by EPA, OSHA and the city Health Department generally support the agencies' central contention: Risks to workers at Ground Zero are minimal if they wear the proper safety equipment, and the same is true for healthy people in the surrounding area if their offices, stores and apartments are properly cleaned." (Dan Fagin, "Safety Took A Backseat," Newsday, 11/4/01)

GIULIANI ADMINISTRATION URGED 9/11 WORKERS TO WEAR PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT

Mayor Giuliani On September 12, 2001: "We Need Everybody To Wear These Masks All The Time … It's Critical." (Bill Ervolino and Peter Pochna, "Work Horrific In 'War Zone'," The [Bergen County] Record, 9/13/01)

Giuliani Urged Rescue Workers To Wear Masks And Goggles At Ground Zero. Mayor Giuliani: "The reason that everybody is wearing masks, which I know people see it on television, and they think there must be a chemical agent or a biological agent or — the reason they're wearing the mask is, if you expose your eyes and your inhale too much of the dust, it's going to irritate you and that can become very serious. So the rescue workers wear the masks and they're actually supposed to wear goggles as well." (Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Press Conference, 9/12/01)

FDNY Incident Action Plan For 9/23-9/24/01 Stated That Overall Objectives Included "1. Provide For The Health, Safety, And Welfare Of All Personnel Working In And Around The Incident." (FDNY, Incident Action Plan, 9/23-9/24/01)

Site Safety Briefing From FDNY Warned Workers That "MANDATORY Personal Protective Equipment [Must Be Worn]" And To Be Aware Of "Airborne Contamination." (FDNY, Incident Action Plan, 9/23-9/24/01)

FDNY Site Safety Message On 10/21/01 Said "Use The Proper PPE, This Includes … Fit Tested Respirators …" (FDNY, Incident Action Plan, 10/21-10/22/01)

Incident Command Post Meeting Notes Stated That Workers Should Keep Their Masks, And Replace Their Air Canisters. (FNDY, World Trade Center Emergency 0700 Incident Command Post Meeting, 9/21/01)

Site Safety Briefing From FDNY Listed Under Logistical Support Where Workers Could Get Respirator Filter Replacements And Where Initial Respirator Fittings Take Place. (FDNY, Incident Action Plan, 9/24-9/25/01)

Additional Safety Briefings From FDNY Told Workers To Replace Their Air Filters When Resistance Was Felt With Air Flow. (FDNY, Incident Action Plan, 9/25-9/26/01; FDNY, Incident Action Plan, 10/21-10/22/01)

CITY AND FEDERAL WORKERS COORDINATED TO ENSURE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF WORKERS

At Request Of City, EPA And OSHA Were Testing Air Within Days Of Attacks. "At the request of the New York City Department of Health, EPA and the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have been on the scene at the World Trade Center monitoring exposure to potentially contaminated dust and debris. Monitoring and sampling conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday have been very reassuring about potential exposure of rescue crews and the public to environmental contaminants." (Environmental Protection Agency, Press Release, 9/13/01)

Concern For Worker's Safety Was Evident In The Fact That Not One Person Died In Recovery Operations At The World Trade Center Site And That Only 35 Workers Suffered Non-Life Threatening Injuries Resulting In Lost Workdays. (Occupational Safety & Health Administration, "Injury And Illness Rate At World Trade Center Site Nearly Half National Average For Similar Sites," Press Release, 4/12/02)

OSHA Recognized "Tremendous Effort" By Giuliani Administration And Federal Government To Keep Workers Safe. "'The Lost Workday Injury and Illness Rate (LWDII) rate at the World Trade Center is 2.3,' said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. 'While the work being done here is clearly unparalleled, the closest comparison is specialty construction which includes demolition. The lost time injury and illness rate for specialty construction is 4.3.' 'Given the extraordinary circumstances involved, this rate reflects the tremendous effort of everyone involved — the workers, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater NY (BCTC), Building Trades Employer's Association (BTEA), the City of New York and the federal government,' said Patricia K. Clark, OSHA's regional administrator in New York." (Occupational Safety & Health Administration, "Injury And Illness Rate At World Trade Center Site Nearly Half National Average For Similar Sites," Press Release, 4/12/02)

"A Lasting Memory Of Sept. 11 May Be The Intense Cooperation Among Federal, State And Local Authorities, As Well As Public Servants And Ordinary Citizens. Representatives Of Dozens Of Agencies Worked On The Rescue Effort At Ground Zero In New York, Including FEMA, The FBI, The Army Corps Of Engineers And The Occupational Safety And Health Administration." ("Retreat And Rebound," Government Executive, 10/01)

Under City's Coordination, Several Federal Agencies Aided In Clean-Up Process. "Federal agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Small Business Administration, have sent 6,000 people to help, according to Ted Monette of FEMA, who is coordinating federal efforts. But the city is in charge. 'No other city would have the capabilities and resources that New York City has to deal with this,' Monette says. 'Within days, they were hauling thousands of truckloads of material out of here.'" (Martha T. Moore, Debbie Howlett and Charisse Jones, "Workers' Task As Painstaking As It Is Painful," USA Today, 9/25/01)

Rudy Giuliani, Press Release - Setting The Record Straight: Air Quality And Worker Safety At Ground Zero Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/295577

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