An advisory panel the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act will vote this week on whether to cover costs associated with cancer diagnoses among Ground Zero workers claiming their disease was the result of their work at the terrorist attack site.
According to a report from The Tribeca Tribune, the Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee of the World Trade Center Health Program has set a vote for Wednesday to decide on this issue that affects potentially thousands of emergency responders and construction workers who spent days, weeks, and months clearing debris from the former World Trade Center site in Manhattan.
Until now, the Zadroga Act has denied medical coverage to Ground Zero workers who claim they developed various forms of cancer as a result of their work there following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Thousands have already received compensation and medical coverage for other diseases and illnesses gotten at Ground Zero. The federal government, which approved the Zadroga Act two years ago in a last-minute act of Congress, has denied the fact Ground Zero workers have developed cancer from working there despite an increasing number of people whose symptoms have progressed beyond skin and eye irritations into something more serious.
Since the law was passed, opening $2.8 billion of medical compensation and coverage to thousands of Ground Zero workers, the federal government has refused to believe the toxic fumes and haze that hung over the site could have caused cancer to anyone working there. Some workers spent months at the site, often improperly protected from many of the toxins in the air generated by burning jet fuel and building materials.
The Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee of the World Trade Center Health Program will vote either to begin covering costs and care for all forms of cancer presented by Ground Zero workers, or it will vote on its recommendation earlier this week to only cover select cancers, like cancers of the respiratory or digestive systems, or for skin cancer. The panel recently said the Zadroga Act should cover at least 30 forms of cancer that ample evidence suggests could have been the result of work performed at the Ground Zero site.
Before it determines whether to cover a select number, all, or no cancers, the Zadroga Act advisory panel will open itself and plans to public comment this Wednesday. The 45-minute teleconference will allow the public to submit its comments on the plan to cover cancers under the Zadroga Act before it votes on its final recommendation to the World Trade Center Health Program.
More than 3,000 people died as a direct result of the terrorist attacks more than 10 years ago. It is believed that just as many will die as a result of injuries they suffered from their response to a call for emergency workers and construction crews charged with clearing the Ground Zero site of debris caused by the attacks.