Sunday, March 25, 2007

9/11 Remains Possibly Used to Pave Roads

Posted: Sunday, 25 March 2007 7:15AM

9/11 Remains Possibly Used to Pave Roads

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Lawyers for families of those who died at the World Trade Center in the 2001 terrorist attack said in court documents Friday that the city pressed workers cleaning up the site to take shortcuts that may have caused human remains to be lost forever.

TOP PHOTO: Footings for the World Trade Center Memorial are being built on the footprint of the North Tower on (March 15, 2007).

The papers filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan relied in part on affidavits from four people who participated in the recovery efforts at the Fresh Kills Refuse Site on Staten Island.

Plaintiffs who brought the case against the city in 2005 include World Trade Center Families for Proper Burial, a group of about 1,000 families whose relatives' remains are at Fresh Kills.

Court papers said the city failed to deliver on a promise to sift all debris through delicate screens to find body parts, human remains and personal belongings as small as a quarter inch in diameter. Only about 63 percent of the 1.65 million tons of debris recovered from the trade center site were subjected to the sifting screens, the court papers said.

In one affidavit, former police Sgt. John Barrett said supervisors at Fresh Kills pressured workers to sift through piles hurriedly. He said he once refused to sift quickly, only to see two other piles carted away and dumped without having been sifted at all.

PHOTO: The Survivors Staircase, one of the last on-site remnants of the destroyed complex, led many people to safety during the attacks.

In another, construction worker Eric Beck, who worked at the landfill from October 2001 through July 2002, said recovery workers found as many as 2,000 bones a day in the early months, along with personal belongings including keys, wallets, pictures and jewelry.

But he said some debris that had been through the quarter-inch sifting equipment was later loaded onto tractors by the city and used to pave roads and fill in potholes.

The court papers said Beck's statement was proof that the city had failed to deliver on a promise that sifted material would be set aside and maintained with reverence.

Since the families sued over the landfill, more than 1,200 human remains, ranging from small slivers to full arm bones, have been recovered from an abandoned skyscraper near the trade center site, the landfill of a service road at ground zero and underneath a former destroyed church.

The city has launched a $30 million, scientific search for the bones of Sept. 11 victims in and around ground zero that includes searching hundreds of manholes and under a state highway. That search is expected to take at least a year, four months longer than the first recovery operation.

Norman Siegel, a lawyer for families, said they want the court to require the city to carefully inspect the Fresh Kills site for personal remains. He estimated it would cost about $90 million, rather than $1 billion, which he said the city has claimed it would cost.

``This is not about money. We're not asking for any damages,'' Siegel said. ``We're asking the court to rectify the wrong, to order the city to resift the debris at Fresh Kill.''

Kimberly Miu, a city law office spokeswoman, said the city had no comment.

The city has said in court papers that it engaged in ``a monumental and unprecedented search of more than one million tons of WTC material,'' an effort it called ``more than reasonable.''

``The search was conducted with utmost care and solemnity. The possibility that the remains of some victims may not have been found in the process of searching the WTC materials does not empower this court to order the city of New York to commit tens of millions of taxpayers' dollars to resift and relocate the material,'' according to court documents filed by the city.

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