Clinton calls for broader apartment tests Downtown

By Elizabeth O’Brien

Senator Hillary Clinton announced last week that the White House, Congress and independent environmental experts will meet to determine the steps necessary to ensure the health of all New Yorkers affected by the World Trade Center dust plume.

Among other concerns, the review will evaluate the Environmental Protection Agency’s response to the trade center collapse, Clinton told reporters last week. The agency cleaned approximately 4,000 apartments in Lower Manhattan as part of its voluntary residential cleanup, but Clinton, U.S. Rep Jerrold Nadler, and others have called this effort inadequate. Part of the discussions will assess the effectiveness of the E.P.A. cleaning and suggest ways to improve it, Clinton said.

“One of my constant complaints about the indoor air cleanup is it didn’t test for a broader array of contaminants,” Clinton said during a telephone press conference in response to a Downtown Express question about the scope of the residential cleanup.

The talks will determine whether toxins still linger in buildings and what contaminants other than asbestos should have been widely screened for in residences. The E.P.A. cleaning program should be expanded to include workplaces, Clinton and others have said. In addition, the senator has advocated testing in concentric circles away from the World Trade Center site to determine the full extent of the contamination, instead of relying on what she calls the E.P.A.’s arbitrary northern boundary of Canal St.

Fears of recontamination must also be addressed, Clinton said, since the voluntary cleanup only included those residences that registered for the service.

Unless the talks—scheduled to take place soon among the White House, Congress, the E.P.A. the Department of Homeland Security—progress in a satisfying manner, Clinton said she would continue to block a Senate vote on Utah Governor Michael O. Leavitt, President Bush’s choice for E.P.A. administrator.

—Elizabeth O’Brien

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