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New York Times

Part 1: Documents: Feds, City Knew Of Ground Zero Toxins

By MARCIA KRAMER

Read the EPA Document
Read the NYC Department Of Health Document

September 7, 2006—Stunning proof has been uncovered that the government knowingly put New Yorkers in harm's way after 9/11.

CBS 2 News has obtained documents revealing that Lower Manhattan was reopened a few weeks following the attack even though the air was not safe.

One of the memos, dated Oct. 6, 2001, noted: "The mayor's office is under pressure from building owners ... in the Red Zone to open more of the city."

The two devastating memos, written by the U.S. and local governments, show they knew. They knew the toxic soup created at Ground Zero was a deadly health hazard. Yet they sent workers into the pit and people back into their homes.

One of the memos, from the New York City health department, dated Oct. 6, 2001, noted: "The mayor's office is under pressure from building owners ... in the Red Zone to open more of the city." The memo said the Department of Environmental Protection was "uncomfortable" with opening the areas but, "The mayor's office was directing the Office of Emergency Management to open the target areas next week."

"Not only did they know it was unsafe, they didn't heed the words of more experienced people that worked for the city and E.P.A.," said Joel Kupferman, with the group Environmental Justice Project.

Another part of the memo noted: "The E.P.A. has been very slow to make data results available and to date has not sufficiently informed the public of air quality issues arising from this disaster."

"Unfortunately, it doesn't surprise me," said health protestor Yuichi Tamamo. "For the last five years we've been saying air quality here has been horrible."

It also doesn't suprise Carmen Flores, who lives in an apartment in the Baruch Houses that was engulfed in the 9/11 toxic plume. Her health has deteriorated and she has multiple medicines.

"I feel forgotten," she said.

Bruce Sprague, an E.P.A. official in the New York and New Jersey region during 9/11 admited to CBS 2 News the agency was finding alarming air quality readings at Ground Zero and in the surrounding areas.

Sprague said the E.P.A. had written much more conservative health assessments, but the memos had to go to Washington. And when the White House got its hands on them, they -- according to Sprague -- softened them.

The city health department refused to comment on the memo, but inside sources told CBS 2 News the memo is real. And its veracity is not questioned by the Environmental Justice Project's Kupferman.

He calls it "a smoking gun."

Part 2: Memo: NYC Reopened WTC Area Despite EPA Warning

By MARCIA KRAMER

Read the EPA Document
Read the NYC Department Of Health Document

September 8, 2006—Rudy Giuliani was hailed a hero after 9/11. But CBS 2 has learned his administration may have knowingly put New Yorkers in harm's way after the attacks.

CBS 2 obtained memos that show the city was told the air at Ground Zero was toxic, but reopened Lower Manhattan anyway.

"This site ... poses threats to workers related to potential exposure to hazardous substances," the head of EPA's Response and Prevention Branch wrote.

What did the former mayor know about the air quality at Ground Zero and when did he know it?

An explosive memo from the federal Environmental Protection Agency to an associate commissioner at the city health department -- dated October 5, 2001 -- told the tale.

"This site ... poses threats to workers related to potential exposure to hazardous substances," the head of EPA's Response and Prevention Branch wrote.

The memo went on to list the hazardous substances, which included asbestos, refrigerants, hazardous wastes, ethylene and "products of combustion emitted from the long-burning fires."

Just two days before EPA's private memo to the Giuliani administration, the agency said publicly that the air quality in Lower Manhattan was safe. It's a position the administration was still maintaining weeks later.

"For residents and people who are working in the open area that has been created downtown, there is no realistic danger to health," said Joel Miele on October 26, 2001. At the time, he was the city's Commissioner of Environmental Protection.

People believed City Hall.

"If the mayor says it's OK, then I believe him. It's OK," one person told CBS 2 in October 2001.

No more.

"If that information existed how dare they keep that from everyone -- not just the workers but the people who lived down there," said Leigh Ann Vinciguerra, the wife of a 9/11 first responder.

The head of the city's fire union charged that firefighters and rescue workers in the pit were left unprotected.

"The fact that the city knew that the air wasn't safe and had a responsibility to protect us and didn't do anything is a disgrace," said fire union president Stephen Cassidy. "It was all about money and it wasn't about the safety of first responders. Those people should be ashamed of themselves."

Former Mayor Giuliani was not available for comment.

His then-Deputy Mayor for Operations, Joe Lhota, told CBS 2 he had no knowledge of the EPA memo and if he had, he would have made it public.