After almost six years since the attacks, thousands of rescue workers and volunteers are sick after being exposed to toxic dust at Ground Zero, such as the ironworkers who volunteered on the heap of rubble for days and are now sick and/or dying of lung disease. This happened despite the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s (ATSDR) warning on September 12 that there were significant asbestos readings in the air. The good news is that on Wednesday of last week Congress passed and the President reportedly signed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. The bill states its purpose is to “establish the World Trade Center Health Program (WTC Program) within the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to provide:
“(1) medical monitoring and treatment benefits to eligible emergency responders and recovery and cleanup workers (including those who are federal employees) who responded to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; and “(2) initial health evaluation, monitoring, and treatment benefits to residents and other building occupants and area workers in New York City who were directly impacted and adversely affected by such attacks.”
In other words, this is healthcare for World Trade Center for all those responders sickened by toxic dust at Ground Zero. However, in order to get the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act past any unessasary obstruction in the US Senate, the bill was scaled back significantly. The original draft of the bill asked for a 10-year, $7.4 billion treatment and compensation package; the new version asks for 5 years at $4.2 billion. It also reopens the 9/11 Victims’ Compensation Fund to the responders, but it caps lawyers’ fees to 10 percent. The passage of the Zadroga Act is especially important to the 325 Ground Zero responders who were left out the recently approved World Trade Center Toxic Dust Settlement. The $4.3B billion package is an important action to support the 9/11 first-responders and volunteers injured-or handed out death sentences– after working at Ground Zero, but we wonder if it will be enough.
If you or your loved one became sick due to exposure to toxic substances and would like to know if you have grounds to file a claim, please contact our firm. We have over 10 years experience working with victims of toxic substances, and, if you have a case, we will work hard to get you the compensation you desrve.