9/11 Families Angry That Remains of Victims Still at Garbage Dump

By Christine Grimaldi

Jun 22, 2007 9:18am

Six years after the 9/11 attacks, frustrated families of 9/11 victims say the unidentified remains of their loved ones are still at an area landfill and have sued New York City in an attempt to have the remains moved to a garbage-free area. All debris from Ground Zero was transported to the landfill in the months following the attacks. The city says the debris was "thoroughly searched" for all discernible remains. THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS Blotter Harsh Criticism for EPA’s New Plan to Test for Contamination at Homes Near WTC Blotter Ex-EPA Chief Whitman Agrees to Testify Click Here for to Check Out the Latest Brian Ross Slideshows But one group says the city moved too quickly through the process of removing the remains and asserts that even the smaller unidentifiable remains should not be left at the landfill. A group comprised of 9/11 families, WTC Families for Proper Burial, Inc., filed suit two years ago against the city, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the heads of the departments of Sanitation and City Planning, seeking to have the remains moved from the Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island, N.Y. "We’re not asking for compensation for pain and suffering," said Diane Horning, the WTC group’s president and co-founder, whose 26-year-old son, Matthew, was killed at work in the North Tower. "We are asking for remedy. Fix the situation," she said. According to a letter from the New York City medical examiner, which he sent to Horning in 2003, the sifted debris, known as "fines," likely does contain the remains of victims who were incinerated by the intense heat and flames of the attack. The city says, however, that individual members of the group cannot positively assert that their relatives’ remains are amongst the fines. The lawsuit calls for the fines to be relocated to any area that does not contain garbage. Both sides have disagreed on how much the relocation would cost. Among the plaintiffs are three of the four "Jersey Girls" -  Kristen Breitweiser, Mindy Kleinberg and Lorie Van Auken – who along with fellow Sept. 11 widow Monica Gabrielle lobbied Congress for the creation of the 9/11 Commission. Fresh Kills, which has been closed since 2001 and only reopened for the recovery effort, is slated to become a park that includes a Sept. 11 memorial at the site where the debris has been stored. The city, which is requesting that the suit be dismissed, is expected to submit its final response by June 29 in Manhattan’s federal district court. Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein, who hears the majority of Sept. 11-related cases, may decide by July or early August whether or not to hold a hearing, according to Norman Siegel, the group’s attorney. Do you have a tip for Brian Ross and the Investigative Team?

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