Statement by 911 Health Watch on the Need to Correct the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum Exhibits
Below is a the Press Statement by 911 Health Watch on the Need to Correct the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum Exhibits.
For Immediate Release from 9/11 Health Watch
August 11, 2014
Press Contact: Benjamin Chevat 646 634 9103
Statement by 911 Health Watch on the Need to Correct the
National 9/11 Memorial and Museum Exhibits
The National 9/11 Memorial and Museum should move quickly to not only correct their exhibits which mischaracterizes the effect that the toxins at Ground Zero have had on thousands of injured and ill Responders and Survivors but more importantly it should make clear to the Nation the full extent of the continuing impact that 9/11 has had on on thousands of ill 9/11 Responders and Survivors.
Over 30,000 9/11 Responders and Survivors with at least one injury, 2,800 so far with a 9/11 Cancer, over 700 active duty Fire Department personnel and over 550 NYC Police Department personal have had to retire due to disabling 9/11 injuries. Over 60 New York Police Department officers and over 70 Firefighters have reportedly died of their 9/11 injuries since 9/11 and more are expected in the coming years.
But you would have no idea of any of this from seeing the exhibits at the Museum as they are now. That needs to change.
Below is the text of the letter from Dr. James Melius, 911Health Watch Board Member and Chair of the World Trade Center Health Program Responders Steering Committee and Kimberly Flynn, the Chair of the World Trade Center Health Program Survivors Steering Committee to Mr. Joe Daniels, President and CEO of the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum urging the museum to correct their exhibits by the coming September 11th Anniversary.
A copy of the letter can be downloaded here :
Here is today’s NY Daily News Story on the issue: “Anger over 9/11 Museum exhibit that casts doubt on link between health problems and toxic Ground Zero air”
August 8, 2014
Joseph C. Daniels
President and CEO
National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center
200 Liberty Street, 16th Floor
New York, NY 10281
Dear Mr. Daniels:
We write on behalf of the World Trade Center Health Program’s Responders and Survivors Steering Committees to raise serious concerns regarding the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum’s exhibits and website and to request a meeting between representatives of our steering committees and appropriate representatives of the Museum to work through our concerns.
Our committees were created by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 (Zadroga) to advise the federal World Trade Center Health Program on the 9/11-related health needs of 9/11 Responders and Survivors, including residents, students and area workers affected by the toxins that covered Lower Manhattan after the collapse of the towers. We have been working to make sure that the World Trade Center Health Program effectively addresses the health crisis that over 30,000 Responders and Survivors, who have 9/11-related illnesses still face, nearly 13 years after 9/11.
Because of our mission and our combined work over the years to ensure a proper federal response to protect the health and welfare of sick 9/11 Responders and Survivors, we are very concerned about some of the museum’s physical exhibits which present a revisionist history of the government’s mishandling of the toxic aftermath of 9/11 and the still-unfolding health consequences.
Our primary concern is with the text panels accompanying the 9/11 Memorial Museum’s “After 9/11” exhibit which we believe wrongly characterize both the health impacts of the World Trade Center disaster on injured Responders and Survivors and the benefits provided by the federal government under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. These errors, detailed below, obscure the truth about the causal link between WTC exposures and disease, and undermine federal efforts to provide all those whose health was harmed by 9/11 with specialized health care. The museum should correct all of the errors in these panels prior to the thirteenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks. We take serious issue with the following texts:
In the panel that starts “Lower Manhattan Residents Rally….”, the museum distorts the history of 9/11 when it says that “Critics accused the government of failing to protect citizens and raised claims of inconsistent enforcement of respirator use at Ground Zero;” [italics and underlining ours]. There is more than sufficient documentation that this is in fact what happened, that safety procedures that should have been implemented were not implemented and that the burden of disease would have been reduced if those procedures had been followed. Those who criticized the government were community and labor-based health and safety advocates.
In the same panel is perhaps the most egregious statement. Referring to the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, the panel states: “The law ensures access to medical treatment and financial compensation for those with health conditions claimed to be related to the World Trade Center disaster;” [italics and underlining ours].
The word “claimed” implies doubt on causation and contradicts the well-established fact that severe widespread health impacts have resulted from exposures to 9/11 dust and smoke. With the passage of Zadroga, the federal government acknowledged the serious health impacts resulting from 9/11, and assumed responsibility for monitoring and treating affected Responders and Survivors who suffer from a long and growing list of conditions and for compensating those who were injured for their economic losses. In his July 1, 2014 statement marking the third anniversary of the World Trade Center Health Program, Administrator Dr. John Howard announced that the program is providing specialized care to over 67,000 affected responders and survivors, and has certified that over 2,800 cancers are WTC-related. [http://www.cdc.gov/wtc/administrator_3rdanniversary.html] To say that these are “claimed” to be related to the disaster runs counter to the facts and established national policy.
In the panel that starts “Rally for Safe Air”, we have “After 9/11, the U.S. government and New York City officials were criticized for allegedly not providing timely and accurate information about air quality in Lower Manhattan;” [italics and underlining ours].
The museum’s use of the word “allegedly” calls into question documented fact that the federal EPA and NYC Department of Health falsely reassured Responders and Survivors of the safety of both “the pile” and the surrounding downtown neighborhoods. The result is thousands of individuals who are living day to day with the impact of the toxins that our government failed to warn about. You have only to look at the findings in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Inspector General’s report of August 2003 to see that both that agency and New York City failed in their obligation to be protective of exposed individuals’ health. [See: “EPA’s Response to the World Trade Center Collapse” http://www.epa.gov/oig/reports/2003/WTC_report_20030821.pdf ]
The panel “What are some of the ongoing physical and mental health effects of 9/11?”, states: “Subsequent tests showed that omnipresent dust – made of pulverized building material, industrial chemicals and electronics mixed with jet fuel residue – was ‘hazardous;’” [italics and underlining ours]. Putting the word hazardous in scare quotes, again, calls into question the established fact that exposure to these materials was hazardous and has resulted in widespread, persistent, serious disease among Responders and Survivors.
In that same panel, the goals of affected people, their advocates and their elected representatives are mischaracterized by the statement “Many continue to fight for insurance and other benefits for those who survived the attacks, raced to help, or lived or worked near Ground Zero and later became ill;” [italics and underlining ours]. It is key that the public understand that what we fought for, and won, was the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act (briefly mentioned in a different panel) that would deliver WTC specialized health care at the WTC Health Program and financial compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund to Responders and Survivors who need and deserve these benefits. Florence Jones, who spoke so movingly in the museum’s dedication ceremony and whose 9/11 evacuation narrative is part of the exhibit, credits the World Trade Center Health Program with enabling her to regain her health.
Given the pivotal role the museum will play in informing visitors now and for generations to come about the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath, it is inexcusable that the museum would project skepticism about the link between health impacts and WTC exposures, despite overwhelming medical evidence and would do so at the expense of those who survived the WTC disaster only to fall ill later, as well as those who have died after 9/11 from WTC-related illnesses. By the coming anniversary of 9/11 this September, we demand that the museum ensure that these panels are properly revised to reflect the facts and that the entire “After 9/11” section be amended to fairly reflect the impact of the events on the physical and mental health of thousands of Responders and Survivors.
Secondly, we are aware that the museum is hosting an online “Museum Registry” in which hundreds of responders and survivors have already enrolled.
The museum needs to immediately rename this “Registry.” We believe that the use of the word “registry” is creating confusion between the museum’s “Registry” and the World Trade Center Health Registry maintained by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, or the World Trade Center Registry maintained by the New York State Worker’s Compensation Board.
In addition, the museum should make clear on its website that that this “Registry” has NO connection with any other programs or assistance for those whose health was harmed in the disaster and that there is no direct benefit to participating.
Finally, the museum will be a place of pilgrimage. The opportunity the museum provides to reach those whose health has been harmed by 9/11 with information about federal resources available to them must not be squandered We are aware that Museum staff met recently with representatives of the WTC Health Program to discuss a possible partnership and we would support the development of collaborative outreach and education programming. We are also aware that the Stony Brook WTC Clinic has offered to share their oral histories from WTC responders with you, but this has never been implemented.
For some whose health was affected by 9/11, the museum may well be their only means to learn about the WTC Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund created to help those injured or made ill by 9/11 not only at the World Trade Center but at the Pentagon and Shanksville as well.
9/11 is more than a fixed moment in time. Its impact on the health of those exposed is ongoing. The museum is in a unique position to reach the entire 9/11 community.
Given the seriousness of these concerns and the urgency of resolving them before the approaching anniversary, we expect your timely response.
Kimberly Flynn James Melius, MD, DrPH
Chair, WTC Health Program Chair, WTC Health Program
Survivors Steering Committee Responders Steering Committee
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