Friday 15 June 2012

The long arm of 9/11

More than 10 years after the attack on the World Trade Centre, New Yorkers are still developing illnesses that may be related to the disaster.   In 2004, the original fund for the injured and bereaved was closed after paying out $7 billion.

The collapse of the buildings had  released a toxic cloud of glass fibres, asbestos, lead, pulverised cement and assorted carcinogens, but just days after, the Environmental Protection Agency said the air in lower Manhattan was safe.

As people continued to fall ill, in 2010, the fund was reopened, but it did not cover cancer.    Firemen, police officers and former pupils at a school near the site are among those who have been diagnosed, but it is hard to prove their illnesses are directly related to the disaster.  

In March, an advisory committee suggested cancer should be covered, but it is not clear for how long this would extend.  As with Hiroshima and Chernobyl, for some, it might be years more before tumours appear.     There are also complaints that victims of other American disasters, such as the Oklahoma City bombing and Hurricane Katrina, were not nearly so generously compensated.

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