* Politicians excluded from speaking at anniversary
* At least 1,000 emergency workers have died from
* WTC collapse, jet fuel and burning plastics released
By Chris Francescani
NEW YORK, Sept 9 Eleven years after the Sept.
11, 2001, attacks, New Yorkers will mark the anniversary on
Tuesday against a backdrop of health concerns for emergency
workers and a feud over financing that has stopped construction
of the $1 billion Ground Zero museum.
While notable progress on redevelopment of the World Trade
Center has been made since early disputes over financial, design
and security issues, the project remains hobbled by political
battles and billions of dollars in cost overruns.
A major sticking point is the museum at the heart of the
World Trade Center (WTC) site redevelopment. Construction has
been suspended because of a feud over finances between the
National September 11 Memorial and Museum foundation and the
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
When the foundation announced recently that for the first
time, politicians would be excluded from having speaking roles
in the Sept. 11 anniversary ceremonies, it was seen by many
victims' families and others in the 9/11 community as a public
reflection of these behind-the-scenes disputes.
Overall site redevelopment costs have grown to nearly $15
billion, up from $11 billion in 2008, according to a recent
But for many of the families of 9/11 victims and ailing
Ground Zero workers, the redevelopment disputes are a
disheartening sideshow to the rising loss of human lives.
When the 110-storey Twin Towers came down, thousands of tons
of steel, concrete, window glass and asbestos came down with it.
While thousands of gallons (litres) of flaming jet fuel and
burning plastics released deadly carcinogens.
Last week, the New York City Fire Department added nine
names to the 55 already etched on a wall honoring members who
have died of illnesses related to Ground Zero rescue and
Some estimates put the overall death toll from 9/11-related
illness at more than 1,000. Nationwide, at least 20,000 Ground
Zero workers are being treated and 40,000 are being monitored by
the World Trade Center Health Program.
"We're burying guys left and right," said Nancy Carbone,
executive director of Friends of Firefighters, a Brooklyn-based
non-profit that helps treat first responders. "This is an
In the past seven weeks, three New York City cops, two
firefighters and a construction union worker who toiled at
Ground Zero have died of cancer or respiratory illnesses,
according John Feal, who runs a non profit that monitors Ground
Zero health care issues.
The staggered nature of the respiratory diagnoses have
complicated efforts to distribute $2.7 billion in federal victim
compensation funds. A range of cancers is expected to be added
to the list of ailments covered by the fund this month.
Leslie Haskins, who lost her husband on 9/11, said she has
grown disillusioned by the politics of the reconstruction, and
wants to see more attention paid to the ailing workers.
"They are sick and dying and their marriages are breaking
up," she said. "Why are we pouring all this money into buildings
when men don't have enough insurance to buy breathing
PROGRESS AND SETBACKS
Retired Fire Department of New York City (FDNY) battalion
chief Jim Riches, who spent nine months digging through the
rubble at Ground Zero before his firefighter son's body was
recovered, called the reconstruction disputes "a disgrace."
Seven years ago, Riches was hospitalized with acute
respiratory disease and fell into a 16-hour coma. He came out of
the coma with stroke-like symptoms.
"We can send men to the moon but we can't rebuild some
buildings in more than 10 years?" he asked.
Some progress has been made by Larry Silverstein, the
developer who owned the lease on the Twin Towers and is now
building three office tower at the Ground Zero site, and the
Port Authority. The September 11 foundation has also raised
hundreds of millions in private and public funding for the
One step forward was last fall's opening of the September 11
Memorial at Ground Zero, twin reflecting pools in the footprints
of the towers. More than four million people have visited.
Also, One World Trade Center, one of the tallest towers in
the country, is near completion and expected to open in 2014.
Yet disagreements over costs have undermined the rebuilding
and hurt public relations. Among the disputes, the September 11
foundation insists the Port Authority owes it $140 million,
according to a source familiar with the financial issues.
The Port Authority believes it is owed $300 million, the
Feal, a demolitions expert who lost part of his leg doing
post 9/11 recovery work, is among those who said they are tired
of reading about the contentious World Trade Center project when
health concerns persist.
"2,751 lives were lost that day," he said "That's sad, but
they didn't suffer long. These first responders have been slowly
dying for 11 years."