EPA abandons big cleanup plans near New York City’s Ground Zero

The U.S. EPA is ditching ambitious cleanup plans for post-9/11 lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, disbanding a panel of scientists, community leaders, and local officials that has met for 20 months on the matter. The panel’s efforts — to devise a comprehensive decontamination plan for homes and businesses in the path of dust and debris from the collapse of the World Trade Center towers — stalled last month, after experts rejected as unreliable a government proposal to use insulation material as a marker for establishing that Twin Towers dust was present. EPA now says it will simply repeat past efforts to clean apartments in lower Manhattan only — excluding businesses, and Brooklyn. Catherine McVay Hughes, a community liaison to the panel, is unimpressed, saying, “It looks like the EPA is giving residents a second chance at a plan that was neither comprehensive nor acceptable in the first place.”