9/11 MEMO REVEALS ASBESTOS 'COVER-UP'
July 16, 2004
An Environmental Protection Agency memo claims city and federal
officials concealed data that showed lower Manhattan air was clouded
with asbestos after the World Trade Center collapse.
And officials sat on the alarming information even as they told the
public it was safe to return downtown, the internal memo says.
Testing by the city Department of Environmental Protection showed the
air downtown had more than double the level of asbestos considered safe
for humans, claimed federal EPA environmental scientist Cate Jenkins,
who supplied the memo to The Post.
The data, which Jenkins says she culled from state records, appear
On the day after the attack, the memo claims, city test results from the
corner of Centre and Chambers streets and from the corner of Spruce and
Gold streets showed asbestos concentration at about twice the level
considered safe by the EPA.
The city did not release this information to the public, Jenkins says.
The next day, Sept. 13, city tests were "overloaded" with asbestos in
the air — so much that the lab could not conclude precise amounts —
along Church Street.
Again, the information was withheld, the memo claims.
When the city published the test results for the weeks following 9/11 on
its Web site in February 2002, there were 17 instances where the data
was either understated or left blank, Jenkins asserts in her report.
"New York City could wiggle out of the [claim of] concealment, because
they weren't making any explicit statements about data at the time,"
Jenkins told The Post. "But the EPA can't wiggle out of this. They said
the air was safe at the same time they were coordinating data with the
To drive her point home, Jenkins compares statements made by the EPA on
the same day test data was showing dangerous levels of asbestos.
On Sept. 18, then-EPA administrator Christie Whitman said the public in
lower Manhattan was not being exposed to "excessive levels of asbestos."
That same day, city testing data, some of which was later made public,
showed asbestos levels 50 percent higher and more above what her agency
considers safe, the memo states.