Responders fuming over WTC air quality hearing

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Sick 9/11 emergency workers from Westchester and Hudson Valley are blasting explanations former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Christie Todd Whitman gave to Congress concerning the air quality at Ground Zero.

Whitman defended the EPA's September 13 claim that the air was clean in a hearing Monday in Washington, D.C. She said it is incorrect to believe the EPA set out to mislead the public.

However, her comments were met with boos and harsh words from people who worked in the bowels of Ground Zero. Richard Volpe, of Mount Kisco, said he has a long list of health problems. ?I just want the truth, why did they not put us in masks and suits?? Volpe asked.

Whitman?s testimony also did not sit well with retired NYPD Detective John Walcott, of Pomona, who now has leukemia. ?It makes it worse that she knew the air was bad,? said Walcott. ?Isn't it her responsibility as an American, and elected officials to speak up and say the air isn't safe??

Walcott?s attorney, Marc Bern, and White Plains lawyer David Worby are representing 11,000 first responders who are suing the government for life-saving medical help.

Whitman placed a lot of the blame on former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani during the hearing. She claimed she told him how important it was for responders to wear safety gear. However, she said those warnings were ignored. Representatives for Giuliani, now a presidential candidate, are denying those accusations.

Related InformationEx-EPA chief in the hot seat over WTC air quality

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