Adams Agrees to Discuss Release of Documents from 2001 about City Hall’s Awareness of Ground Zero Health Risks
September 11, 2001: Lower Manhattan is engulfed by the dust from the collapsing World Trade Center. Photograph by the NYPD
Mayor Eric Adams has taken a step that was blocked by three of his predecessors. He is willing to consider releasing documents concealed by the administrations of Mayors Rudy Giuliani, Michael Bloomberg, and Bill de Blasio about what information City Hall had in the weeks following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, regarding environmental toxins released by the collapse of the World Trade Center.
Although Mr. Giuliani said little in public about the dangers posed by environmental toxins at Ground Zero during the three months that remained in his tenure after September 11, 2001, one indication of his frame of mind might be gleaned from an action he took in November. The Mayor urged members of New York’s Congressional delegation to help pass the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, which specifically capped, “the liability for all claims against the City of New York as a result of such attacks to no more than the City’s insurance coverage or $350 million.”
Seven days after the attacks, then-EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman said, “we are very encouraged that the results from our monitoring of air-quality and drinking-water conditions… show that the public is not being exposed to excessive levels of asbestos or other harmful substances.” She added, “given the scope of the tragedy from last week, I am glad to reassure the people of New York… that their air is safe to breathe and the water is safe to drink.”
Without adequate warning of the dangers posed by more than 2,500 contaminants (including asbestos, lead, mercury, dioxins, crystalline silica, cadmium, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, along with pulverized concrete and glass) now known to have filled the air and coated every surface for hundreds of yards in all directions, thousands of first responders and cleanup workers flocked to the site, and tens of thousands of local residents returned to their homes.
In the decades since, the death toll among these groups has surpassed the number killed during the actual attacks, while the count of those sickened with the 80-plus conditions subsequently linked to exposure to World Trade Center debris is now many times the tally of the dead.
Congressman Jerry Nadler: “We have yet to see a full accounting of what then-Mayor Giuliani and his administration knew at the time.”
In May, U.S. Congress members Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney called upon the Adams administration to make public previously unreleased City documents, which may shed light on what Mr. Giuliani knew about environmental health risks in weeks and months following of the destruction of the World Trade Center.
In a May 12 letter to City Hall, Mr. Nadler and Ms. Maloney wrote that, “we have yet to see a full accounting of what then-Mayor Giuliani and his administration knew at the time.” They argue that such an accounting would “help provide injured and ill 9/11 responders, survivors, and their families a better understanding of what the City knew at the time about the likely scope of the health crisis and when they knew it.”
“The time has come for a full accounting of the history of 9/11,” they continued. “The ongoing review and declassification of documents related to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s possible involvement in the 9/11 attacks ordered by President Biden was a critical first step in this accounting. Providing full transparency on what the government knew about the health risks at Ground Zero and how they potentially covered up that information will finally provide transparency to a too-often overlooked aspect of the attack’s history.”
On July 6, Mayor Adams (who is a former police officer) wrote back to Mr. Nadler and Ms. Maloney, saying, “As an NYPD lieutenant securing the World Trade Center on 9/11, I witnessed firsthand the ground smoldering, the demolished buildings, and the horror of that day. I also remember the many lives lost and the countless heroes who put themselves in harm’s way that day and the many days that followed. We all know someone who died that day, and we hold their memories close to our hearts. I also know the collective grief shared by the responders, survivors, and the families of those that died and have suffered along with all New Yorkers who remember that horrible day.”
He added, “my administration is deeply committed to ensuring that the responders, survivors, and their families are supported…. To that end, I would like to invite your offices to a meeting with my team, so we can determine the best path forward. We sincerely appreciate your concerns and your interest in the continued support of New Yorkers and those affected by the 9/11 attacks. I look forward to ongoing collaboration.”
While this willing to talk may seem like a muted response, it breaks with 20 years of precedent set and maintained by three previous mayors.
Kimberly Flynn, director of 9/11 Environmental Action: “The City put the health and lives of hundreds of thousands of Lower Manhattan residents, students and local workers at risk. Everyone whose health was affected by toxic exposures that could have been prevented is entitled to full accountability and transparency.”
CB1 member Mariama James: “The City lied when they told parents and residents that we should not be concerned. That the kids could all go back to school. Literally, my entire immediate family is sick as a result of the City misleading us. Show me the records!”
The push by Mr. Nadler and Ms. Maloney has garnered support from local activists who focus on the continuing health impacts of the 2001 terrorist attacks. Kimberly Flynn, the director of 9/11 Environmental Action, said in response to the letter to Mayor Adams from Mr. Nadler and Ms. Maloney, “the City and its agencies, like the Department of Education and the Department of Health, put the health and lives of hundreds of thousands of Lower Manhattan residents, students and local workers at risk. Yes, the EPA lied when [then-EPA director Christine Todd] Whitman declared that the ‘air is safe,’ but City agencies fell right in line with that lie. Everyone whose health was affected by toxic exposures that could have been prevented is entitled to full accountability and transparency. And we all need to know what went wrong so that the same bad decisions are not repeated if, God forbid, there is a future disaster.”
Mariama James, a member of Community Board 1 who has led the charge for accountability, transparency, and support for survivors for almost two decades, said, “New Yorkers need to know what really happened here—especially now that we know how many people are suffering from World Trade Center-related toxic exposures. The City lied when they told parents and residents that we should not be concerned. That the kids could all go back to school. And all we needed was a HEPA filter and HEPA vacuum in our homes. Literally, my entire immediate family is sick as a result of the EPA and the City misleading us. We demand accountability. Any and every representative of Lower Manhattan and the September 11 community needs to get behind Nadler and Maloney’s urgent demand. Show me the records!”
I have written on this previously when it came up and the solution is so simple that it stuns me that it still has to be debated.
Taken as a basic that the cobblestones represent an important historical / archeological interest and should not be replaced or covered over, it would be a simple and reasonably cheap matter to:
a. Post warning signs along the street sides and at the heads of the streets for bikers
b. Install pedestrian crossovers in concrete or suitable building blocks at the beginning and ends of each street.
Please, can’t we put this easily resolved problem to a final rest!
Eyes to the Sky July 12 – 30, 2022
Cosmos of starry skies reflected in Earth’s fireflies
Photo: Mike Lewinski, Milo, Maine via Flicker.com and Greg Seitz
In dark sky locations on June and July nights, in the absence of moonlight, the cosmos of stars meets and seems to blend with brilliant, flashing firefly lights in the space between treetops and ground in a great, animated surround. At nightfall, blinking lightning bugs stream over wild meadows, fallow hay fields, parks and gardens where artificial light is minimized—leaving the awe-struck stargazer rapt in Earth’s near atmosphere that is alive with luminescent, courting beetles.
The first image from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope offers a stunning new view of the universe. This first-of-a-kind infrared image is so distant in the cosmos that it shows stars and galaxies as they appeared 13 billion years ago. Credit: NASA
During the coming few nights and early mornings, a nearly full supermoon (closest to Earth) drenches the summer landscape in alluring light that encourages walking and exploring outdoors. Tonight, the 12th, the lunar disk, 99.14% full, rises in the southeast at 7:59pm and sets in the southwest at 4:55am tomorrow morning. The Full Thunder or Hay Moon reaches full phase at 2:38pm on the 13th. Its disk 99.59% full, moonrise is at 9pm. Greet the setting moon in the west-southwest on the 14th at 6:11am.
CB1 Wants Tribeca’s Cobblestone Streets Preserved, But Made Safe
A resolution recently enacted by Community Board 1 calls upon the City to repair seven blocks of historic cobblestone streets in Tribeca. This follows a months-long dialog within the Board about whether safety concerns necessitated the removal of the historic surfaces (which are also landmarked), and their replacement with standard tar pavement.
Private Club and Event Space Slated Coming to Former American Stock Exchange
Billionaire Ron Burkle, who purchased the landmarked American Stock Exchange building last year, plans to bring an outpost of his exclusive social club, the Ned, to the august structure, according to an application filed with the State Liquor Authority.
A lunch time program for passersby to play a quick game of chess or backgammon. Using clocks, opponents will play 5 minute games that are fast, furious and fun. An instructor will be on hand to offer pointers and tips to improve your game. Free.
Play the popular strategy game while getting pointers and advice from an expert. Chess improves concentration, problem solving, and strategic planning—plus it’s fun! For ages 5 and up (adults welcome). Free.
The film My Name Is Sara is based on the true story of 13-year-old Sara Goralnik. After escaping a ghetto in German-occupied Poland and losing her family at the outset of the Holocaust, Sara hid in plain sight, passing as an Orthodox Christian in the Ukrainian countryside, where she was taken in by a farmer and his young wife. Sara soon discovered the dark secrets of her employers’ marriage, compounding the greatest secret she had to protect: her identity. Attend the pre-screening reception followed by the premiere of this award-winning film, produced in association with USC Shoah Foundation. The screening will be accompanied by a discussion with the star of the film, Zuzanna Surowy; the film’s director, Steven Oritt; and the film’s executive producers Mickey Shapiro—whose mother’s story is the inspiration for the film—and Andy Intrater. The conversation will be moderated by Jessica Shaw, host of The Pop Culture Spotlight on SiriusXM. $18.
In this presentation, Jeffrey Richman, Green-Wood Cemetery’s historian and collector of 19th-century New Yorkiana, has assembled stereoview and lantern slide photographs of the Brookyn Bridge under construction, as well as woodcuts and other memorabilia to tell the story of how the Brooklyn Bridge came into being. Free.
Take a self-guided tour of the tall ship Wavertree, and visit the 12 Fulton Street galleries to view the exhibitions “South Street and the Rise of New York” and “Millions: Migrants and Millionaires aboard the Great Liners.” Through Sunday. Free.
BLOOM! is the newest creation of SWAY (formerly known as Australia’s Strange Fruit) atop their signature 14 foot sway poles. BLOOM! is a family-friendly, colorful, and spirited 20-minute performance exploring themes of earth and nature, community, transformation, individuality, and diversity. Performances at 12:30pm, 3:30pm and 5:30pm. Free
Opening night reception to kickoff the week-long Ladies of Hip Hop festival! Ladies of Hip-Hop is a Black women-led non-profit dedicated to the empowerment of women and preservation of street and club dance forms. What started as local workshops in Philadelphia has transformed into a week-long festival. $10-$15.
Available for PT/FT. Wonderful person, who is a great worker.
Worked in BPC.
$2.00 per notarized signature.
Today in History: July 12
1493 – Hartmann Schedel’s Nuremberg Chronicle, one of the best-documented early printed books, is published.
1543 – King Henry VIII of England marries his sixth and last wife, Catherine Parr, at Hampton Court Palace.
1789 – In response to the dismissal of the French finance minister Jacques Necker, the radical journalist Camille Desmoulins gives a speech which results in the storming of the Bastille two days later.
1812 – The American Army of the Northwest briefly occupies the Upper Canadian settlement at what is now at Windsor, Ontario.
1917 – The Bisbee Deportation occurs as vigilantes kidnap and deport nearly 1,300 striking miners and others from Bisbee, Arizona.
1948 – Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion orders the expulsion of Palestinians from the towns of Lod and Ramala.
1962 – The Rolling Stones perform for the first time at London’s Marquee Club.
1973 – A fire destroys the entire sixth floor of the National Personnel Records Center of the United States.
2007 – U.S. Army Apache helicopters engage in airstrikes against armed insurgents in Baghdad, Iraq, where civilians are killed; footage from the cockpit is later leaked to the Internet.
100 BC – Julius Caesar, Roman politician and general (d. 44 BC)
1817 – Henry David Thoreau, American essayist, poet, and philosopher (d. 1862)
1854 – George Eastman, businessman, founded Eastman Kodak (d. 1933)
1884 – Louis B. Mayer, Russian-born American film producer, co-founded Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (d. 1957)
1884 – Amedeo Modigliani, Italian painter and sculptor (d. 1920)
1895 – Buckminster Fuller, American architect and engineer, designed the Montreal Biosphere (d. 1983)
1917 – Andrew Wyeth, American artist (d. 2009)
1934 – Van Cliburn, American pianist and composer (d. 2013)
1536 – Desiderius Erasmus, Dutch priest and philosopher (b. 1466)
1804 – Alexander Hamilton, American general, economist, and politician, 1st United States Secretary of the Treasury (b. 1755)
1910 – Charles Rolls, English engineer and businessman, co-founded Rolls-Royce Limited (b. 1887)
1929 – Robert Henri, American painter and educator (b. 1865)