Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: Just Another Unconscionable Action--No Surprises Here

Friday, September 08, 2006

Just Another Unconscionable Action--No Surprises Here

It hardly comes as a surprise that the air at Ground Zero shortly after September 11 was full of dust and particles that could cause havoc with the lungs of workers. What would you expect from collapsed buildings, destroyed airplanes with all the burning fuel? Why would you ever expect that to be a clean environment?

In case anyone was still wondering, Mount Sinai Medical Center released a report on Tuesday that showed about 7,000 of 10,000 patients treated from Ground Zero had respiratory ailments caused by their exposure to the contaminated air. That's correct, right in at 70 percent. But it was an extremely dangerous environment full of hazardous materials. Who would expect anything different?

Well, it also comes as no surprise that, despite all that, the EPA under the Bush administration would claim that there's no problem. A week after the attacks, there was EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman, announcing that everything was fine and dandy.

"We are very encouraged that the results from our monitoring of air quality and drinking water conditions in both New York and near the Pentagon show that the public in these areas is not being exposed to excessive levels of asbestos or other harmful substances," Whitman said. "Given the scope of the tragedy from last week, I am glad to reassure the people of New York and Washington, D.C. that their air is safe to breath and their water is safe to drink," she added.

Should we be surprised that Whitman and the Bushies knew that the air was, in fact, not safe? No, I guess not. The White House wanted the official EPA reports rewritten to downplay, ignore, or deny the existence of hazardous materials in the air around Ground Zero.

Surely Whitman feels bad about the 70 percent among the heroic workers at Ground Zero, many of them volunteers, whose health has been damaged by the incomplete information. But no, apparently not. (Surprised? Me, neither.) In fact, it wasn't really her fault--or he fault of the federal government at all. It was the city of New York--that's who should've protected its citizens. In an interview to air Sunday on 60 Minutes, she says:

We did everything we could to protect people from that environment and we did it in the best way that we could, which was to communicate with those people who had the responsibility for enforcing. We didn't have the authority to do that enforcement, but we communicated (the need to wear respirators) to the people who did. (In) no uncertain terms (city officials were warned of the danger). EPA was very firm in what it communicated and it did communicate up and down the line.

Yes, it's all somebody else's fault. No surprise there in the least.


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