EPA Refuses Request to Clean Firehouses of WTC Debris

WCBS 880 - March 12, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) A federal program designed to clean lower Manhattan residences of potentially hazardous debris from the World Trade Center collapse will not be expanded to include city firehouses, officials said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced plans in May, 2002, to clean and test downtown residences for a broad array of hazardous toxins, including asbestos, left in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The city firefighters union, citing health concerns among its members, has unsuccessfully lobbied to have four firehouses in lower Manhattan cleaned.

But Kathleen Callahan, an EPA assistant regional administrator, rejected the union's request on Tuesday, saying the cleanup program was never intended to include workplaces.

``We have not undertaken any cleanup of firehouses,'' Callahan said at an environmental symposium at Fordham University. ``The program that we have is strictly residential and therefore, we would not do firehouses,'' she added.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a frequent EPA critic whose district encompasses lower Manhattan, criticized the agency's response.

"It's about saving money and passing the buck,'' Nadler said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)