Saturday, August 23, 2003

I mentioned this when the report was leaked, but now AP reports on the release of the EPA inspector general's report on Ground Zero air quality after 9/11:

EPA told to lie about WTC air

The Environmental Protection Agency's internal watchdog says White House officials pressured the agency to prematurely assure the public that the air was safe to breathe a week after the World Trade Center collapse.

The agency's initial statements in the days following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were not supported by proper air quality monitoring data and analysis, EPA's inspector general, Nikki L. Tinsley, says in a 155-page report released late Thursday.

An e-mail sent just one day after the attacks, from then-EPA Deputy Administrator Linda Fisher's chief of staff to senior EPA officials, said "all statements to the media should be cleared" first by the National Security Council, the report says.

Approval from the NSC, which is chaired by President Bush and serves as his main forum for discussing national security and foreign policy matters with his senior aides and Cabinet, was arranged through an official with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the report said.

That council, which coordinates federal environmental efforts, in turn "convinced EPA to add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones," the inspector general found....

A story in the Times Herald-Record (Middletown, N.Y.) has more:

Hudson Valley air quality specialists, doctors and Ground Zero workers knew from the beginning that the Environmental Protection Agency was not entirely truthful about air quality in Manhattan after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Consider the evidence:

-A study conducted two days after the attack showed that the air quality at Ground Zero had the same pH as Drano....

-... local environmental engineer who attended those classified meetings said there were at least 180,000 pounds of freon stored in the Twin Tower basements for the air conditioning system. When freon is vaporized, it becomes phosgene.

Phosgene is a chemical weapon used during World War I....

As I said, I could smell a chemical stench near Ground Zero as late as December. None of this surprises me.

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