The September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center (WTC) turned Lower Manhattan into a disaster site. As the towers collapsed, Lower Manhattan was blanketed with building debris and combustible materials. This complex mixture created a major concern: that thousands of residents and workers in the area would now be exposed to known hazards in the air and in the dust, such as asbestos, lead, glass fibers, and pulverized concrete. In May 2002, New York City formally requested federal assistance to address indoor contamination. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted an indoor clean and test program from 2002 to 2003. Several years later, after obtaining the views of advisory groups, including its Inspector General and an expert panel, EPA announced a second test and clean program in December 2006. Program implementation is to begin later in 2007, more than 5 years after the disaster. GAO's testimony, based on preliminary work evaluating EPA's development of its second program, addresses (1) EPA's actions to implement recommendations from the expert panel and its Inspector General, (2) the completeness of information EPA provided to the public in its second plan, and (3) EPA's assessment of available resources to conduct the program. We discussed the issues we address in this statement with EPA.
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