Ill Ground Zero workers demand more support.
It looked like Wolf Blitzer gave this some coverage on CNN tonight, but by the time I really caught what he was discussing, they were onto the poor Ground Zero rescue pooches that are also dying.
Ailing NY Ground Zero workers demand more help
By Tom Hals Wed Jan 31, 4:00 PM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Rescue workers with chronic illnesses they attribute to exposure to the rubble at the World Trade Center site demanded long-term support from the government on Wednesday, and one advocate feared it could become "America's Chernobyl."
As President George W. Bush met the son of a World Trade Center rescue worker who died of lung disease, a group of residents, paramedics and union members gathered at the site and demanded hundreds of millions of dollars to help workers who cleared the area after the September 11, 2001, attacks.
"This could be America's Chernobyl, but it doesn't have to be," said Mariama James, a resident of the neighborhood near the World Trade Center.
While Washington is spending billions of dollars protecting the country from terrorism, it is doing nothing to help those who worked to clear the site, she said.
Carpenter Jimmy Nolan, who worked and slept at the site for three weeks, said, "The government didn't think they'd see these problems for 20 to 30 years, not in five years."
Showing hands he said were blistered from exposure to the rubble, he said he needed financial support and health care that would allow him to quit a job that could aggravate his lung and liver problems.
About 40,000 rescue workers were exposed to toxic dust that was as caustic as drain cleaner, according to a doctor involved with a study by the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, which was released in September.
Nearly 70 percent of 9,500 workers surveyed have suffered new or worsened respiratory problems after working at the trade center site, the study found. In some cases, the symptoms lingered for years.
"There is so much evidence to link 100-plus deaths to each individual's involvement in the World Trade Center disaster," said Jonathan Sferazo, an ironworker who helped the rescue effort.
Sick rescue workers and their families have been putting pressure on Washington for a comprehensive plan to support rescuers who have lost health insurance because they can't work.
Advocates also want funding to provide medical training about symptoms and to perform an environmental study of lower Manhattan. But they say the government is reluctant to back such steps, fearing it would become liable for long-term costs.
The White House announced plans on Tuesday to spend $25 million to care for sick rescue workers. Bush met with the son of a deceased New York police officer on Wednesday.
Ceasar Borja Jr., who attended Bush's State of the Union address as a guest of New York Democratic Sen.
Hillary Clinton on the night his father died, attributes his father's lung disease to exposure to the air at the site.
Clinton has called for nearly $2 billion over several years to treat Ground Zero workers.