June 25, 2007
|Rudy And Ground Zero||9/11, "War On Terror" Politics|
In an upcoming interview with WNBC-TV, former head of the EPA Christie Whitman says former Mayor Rudy Giuliani blocked her efforts to force WTC workers to wear respirators. [...]
She also said city officials didn't want EPA workers wearing haz-mat suits because they "didn't want this image of a city falling apart."
In an interview scheduled to run the day before Whitman testifies in front of Congress on Monday, she told WNBC-TV she warned the city of the risks almost every day.
And she said she believes illnesses killing first responders can be blamed on the city's lack of action.
"I'm not a scientist ... but I do [believe that]," she told WNBC's Brian Thompson.
"I mean, we wouldn't have been saying that the workers should wear respirators if ... we didn't think there might be health consequences."
She said the city had the responsibility to make sure workers wore respirators. But many took them off, complaining of heat. She said workers without respirators were barred from cleanup efforts at the Pentagon.
"We were certainly frustrated at not being able to get people to wear respirators because we thought that was critically important to workers on The Pile," Whitman said.
"Every day, there would be telephone calls, telephone meetings and meetings in person ... with the city when we repeated the message of the necessity of wearing respirators."
But her concern at the time only involved breathing air on The Pile.
Only seven days after the 9/11 attacks, as fires still raged at the site, she said, "I am glad to reassure the people of New York and Washington, D.C., that the air is safe to breathe."
Whitman also criticized Giuliani's handling of a suspected anthrax attack at NBC's Rockefeller Center headquarters weeks after 9/11.
"There was concern by the city that EPA workers not be seen in the haz-mat suits," she said. "They didn't want this image of a city falling apart. I said, 'Well, that's not acceptable.'" [Emphasis added]
Ground Zero workers paid the price. AP:
A study of more than 20,000 people by Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York concluded that, since the attacks, 70 percent of ground zero workers have suffered some sort of respiratory illness. A separate study released last month found that rescue workers and firefighters contracted sarcoidosis, a serious lung-scarring disease, at a rate more than five times as high as in the years before the attacks. [Emphasis added]
Yes, but respirators wouldn't have looked good on the teevee.
Well, as an outsider looking at the US, it's very plain that in American politics, image is everything, and policy counts for diddly squat. So this story is not at all surprising.
Posted by: Jason at June 29, 2007 02:49 AM