FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Toxic State of Lower Manhattan

History is about to repeat itself, though on a smaller scale. 9/11 is scheduled to happen all over again. And again, it will happen all over Lower Manhattan.

While the whole world knows about the collapse of the Twin Towers (although the collapse of five surrounding buildings that day goes virtually unmentioned) and while the catastrophic health consequences from the dispersal of toxic debris and from the fires which burned for over three months becomes obvious as more people fall ill, the world outside of Lower Manhattan is not aware that at least three more highly contaminated buildings are scheduled for demolition in the near future. The United States Environmental Protection Agency which was found by its Inspector General to have lied about the air quality after 9/11, continues to refuse to perform its legally mandated duty by taking the lead in the ‘deconstruction’ of at least one of those buildings, the former Deutschebank at 130 Liberty Street.

Hounded by Lower Manhattan residents and advocacy groups such as the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, (1) 9/11 Environmental Action (2), the New York State Public Employees Federation (3) and the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project (4), the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation which now owns 130 Liberty acknowledges the contamination of the building. Tests performed by Deutschebank in preparation for litigation found asbestos at up to 150,000 times normal background levels in addition to astronomical levels of other contaminants including dioxin, lead, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs.) In addition, the use of the sprinkler system on 9/11 resulted in mold and the bacterium which causes Legionnaire’s disease.

LMDC has assured the community they intend to abide by all city, state and federal regulations. However a deconstruction like this one is unprecedented in a residential neighborhood so those regulations do not go far enough. LMDC has hired a fleet of consultants and contractors to execute the deconstruction and related tasks such as air monitoring. According to Kimberly Flynn of 9/11 Environmental Action this leads to a patchwork effect in which “everyone is in charge and no one is in charge.”

Residents of 125 Cedar Street next door to 130 Liberty have testified to the urgent need for an emergency response plan which became highlighted a few months ago when windows fell out of the building. LMDC’s recent suggestions have included calling 911. Joel Kupferman of the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project also points out that the building is next to subway grates and an emergency fan system which could potentially spread the contaminants at 130 Liberty Street to commuters.

Following 130 Liberty Street, Fiterman Hall, a Borough of Manhattan Community College building which is owned by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York and is contaminated with dioxin, is also scheduled for demolition.

The final building in the doomed trio, 4 Albany Street which is contaminated with asbestos and lead, is currently owned by Deutschebank which, being a private institution, is not obliged to engage in the same degree of public process as the other two entities. That demolition is already underway.

Other buildings downtown are also slated for demolition in the name of rebuilding and renewal. However, little is known about their levels of contamination.

1. http://www.nycosh.org/

2. http://www.911ea.org/

3. http://query.nytimes.com/

4. http://www.nyeljp.org/

JENNA ORKIN is one of twelve original plaintiffs in a potential class action lawsuit against the EPA. She is a member of the World Trade Center Environmental Organization and can be reached at: Jennakilt@aol.com
 

More articles by:

Jenna Orkin is the author of Writer Wannabe Seeks Brush With Death.

January 17, 2019
Stan Cox
That Green Growth at the Heart of the Green New Deal? It’s Malignant
David Schultz
Trump vs the Constitution: Why He Cannot Invoke the Emergencies Act to Build a Wall
Paul Cochrane
Europe’s Strategic Humanitarian Aid: Yemen vs. Syria
Tom Clifford
China: An Ancient Country, Getting Older
Greg Grandin
How Not to Build a “Great, Great Wall”
Ted Rall
Our Pointless, Very American Culture of Shame
John G. Russell
Just Another Brick in the Wall of Lies
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers Strike: Black Smoke Pouring Out of LAUSD Headquarters
Patrick Walker
Referendum 2020: A Green New Deal vs. Racist, Classist Climate Genocide
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Uniting for a Green New Deal
Matt Johnson
The Wall Already Exists — In Our Hearts and Minds
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Flailing will get More Desperate and More Dangerous
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party: Part Three
January 16, 2019
Patrick Bond
Jim Yong Kim’s Mixed Messages to the World Bank and the World
John Grant
Joe Biden, Crime Fighter from Hell
Alvaro Huerta
Brief History Notes on Mexican Immigration to the U.S.
Kenneth Surin
A Great Speaker of the UK’s House of Commons
Elizabeth Henderson
Why Sustainable Agriculture Should Support a Green New Deal
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, Bolton and the Syrian Confusion
Jeff Mackler
Trump’s Syria Exit Tweet Provokes Washington Panic
Barbara Nimri Aziz
How Long Can Nepal Blame Others for Its Woes?
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: When Just One Man Says, “No”
Cesar Chelala
Violence Against Women: A Pandemic No Longer Hidden
Kim C. Domenico
To Make a Vineyard of the Curse: Fate, Fatalism and Freedom
Dave Lindorff
Criminalizing BDS Trashes Free Speech & Association
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: The Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party: Part Two
Edward Curtin
A Gentrified Little Town Goes to Pot
January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail