Palin Expresses 9/11 Health Concern

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, last week expressed concerns for Lower Manhattan residents and workers suffering from ailments believed to have been caused by the environmental fallout from the destruction of the Twin Towers. Tribute WTC Visitor Center officials say Palin made the remarks Thursday when she visited the center across the street from ground zero.

Lee Ielpi, the center’s co-founder, said Palin was taken aback when he told her of the large number of workers, residents and volunteers who have respiratory and other health problems because of 9/11. “We have to do something to help these people,” Ielpi recalls Palin saying.

Ielpi, a retired firefighter whose son was killed trying to rescue people from the towers, spent months searching for his son and other people killed in the attack.

Palin’s parents may have been exposed to toxic W.T.C. debris when they volunteered at the Fresh Kills landfill after 9/11. W.T.C. material was taken to Fresh Kills after it was searched for human remains.

A McCain-Palin campaign spokesperson told Downtown Express a few weeks ago that Sen. John McCain would consider a proposal to provide health care for 9/11 ailments once a bill is introduced in the Senate. A spokesperson for the Obama-Biden Democratic campaign declined to comment a few weeks ago and on Wednesday.

Ielpi said he also spoke with Palin about the importance of each state adding the events of 9/11 to its school curriculum. Many teachers and parents are concerned about not traumatizing children, but Ielpi said by that logic, the Holocaust would also not be taught. He said Palin was very receptive to that idea too.

“She was 100 percent for enlightenment,” he said. “Regardless of the outcome of the election, that’s very, very meaningful for someone from the state that’s furthest from the city.”

— Josh Rogers