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High Levels of Hazardous Materials Found Next to Trade Center Site

Jan 26, 2005 | AP

High levels of asbestos, lead and other contaminants have been found in a vacant skyscraper badly damaged during the 2001 terror attacks, potentially complicating the rebuilding of ground zero.

A consultant to the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. revealed the findings at a public hearing where neighbors, environmental advocates and union representatives talked about their concerns over plans to dismantle the 40-story Deutsche Bank building.

The consultant said concentrations of asbestos, lead and silica on the building's exterior and in elevator shafts, conduits and ductwork exceeded benchmarks set by the Environmental Protection Agency, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Critics of the plan fear the demolition will kick contaminants into the air and that workers inside the building would not be adequately protected.

"Workers are essentially, and unfortunately, the canaries for the community," said David M. Newman of the nonprofit New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health.

Government permits are needed before the plan can proceed.

EPA officials say they are not opposed to the dismantling, but support steps to reduce the environmental impact.

The building is across the street from the trade center site. Falling debris from the attack tore a gash in its facade, allowing in water that contributed to a severe infestation of mold inside. Officials eventually decided it was easier to tear it down piece by piece and rebuild than to repair it.

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