Manhattanites Sue EPA Over Mishandling of Enviro Hazards from Sept. 11

The U.S. EPA mishandled the environmental hazards caused by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and put thousands of New Yorkers at risk, charges a class action lawsuit filed by 12 lower Manhattan workers and residents yesterday in U.S. District Court. The suit claims the EPA submitted to political pressure to return the area to “normalcy,” making misleading statements about air quality and allowing residents to return home before their safety was assured. It also claims that the EPA delegated the task of cleaning indoor spaces to the city and then failed to adequately monitor its progress, which led to residents being exposed to hazardous dust, asbestos, and other carcinogens. The plaintiffs want the court to force the EPA to establish a fund that would pay for long-term health monitoring and the cleaning of hundreds of buildings in the area. Former EPA head Christie Whitman comes in for particular opprobrium: The suit says she displayed “a shockingly deliberate indifference to human health.”