Photographie prise en 1900 de mineurs Belges s’apprêtant à être descendus dans une mine.
source: Eurostat, International Labour Organization
By Ed Henry, CNN
January 2, 2011 6:43 p.m. EST
Washington (CNN) — President Barack Obama signed the 9/11 health bill into law in Hawaii on Sunday, White House spokesman Bill Burton said.
Obama signed the bill during his Hawaiian vacation, with no signing ceremony held. In a statement issued later, the president said he was “honored” to sign the bill, which pays for health care for responders believed to have been sickened by pollution at the ruins of the World Trade Center in New York.
“We will never forget the selfless courage demonstrated by the firefighters, police officers, and first responders who risked their lives to save others,” Obama said. “I believe this is a critical step for those who continue to bear the physical scars of those attacks.”
The bill made a long journey in order to get signed. A printed copy of the bill flew with a White House staffer from Washington to the Hawaiian island of Oahu, so Obama could sign it from his vacation rental in Kailua.
“It came out with a member of the staff so that it could be signed in a timely fashion,” Burton said.
The legislation, officially titled the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, provides health coverage to workers who helped clear the rubble and search for human remains at the site of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history. The $4.2 billion legislation also reopens the federal Victim Compensation Fund to provide economic relief to those harmed by the attacks, which killed more than 2,700 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
After a contentious battle in which some Republicans suggested the legislation was creating a new entitlement program, it finally passed during the lame-duck session of Congress in December. New York lawmakers hailed the bill’s signing.
“After a long, arduous path with several near-defeats, this bill is finally law,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York. “The heroes who rushed to Ground Zero in the hours and days after the attacks will not be forgotten. These first responders were like veterans, and this law keeps with a time-honored tradition of standing by our veterans when they get harmed answering the call. We will begin work immediately to make sure this law gets renewed for another five years.”
“Today, nine years after the devastation of 9/11, the United States has honored its obligation to the heroes and survivors of 9/11,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, and one of the authors of the bill, said in a statement. “With President Obama’s signing of our bill … it is clear that the government has not forgotten the thousands who have served and suffered.”
Rep. Peter King, R-New York and another bill author, said the law “is a great victory for the heroes of September 11th, the firefighters, police officers and construction workers. Justice is finally being served. A great day for America.”
“At long last, the president’s signature has ended our nine-year struggle to address the 9/11 health crisis,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York, and another author of the bill, said in a statement. “The Zadroga law will save lives and fulfills our moral obligation to care for those who rose to the defense of America in a time of war.”
Maloney’s statement compared the law to the War Hazards Compensation Act of 1942, passed in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which provided health care and financial relief to to civilians who assisted in recovering the bodies of the dead and salvage the remnants of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement, “I am encouraged that our elected representatives in Washington came together and stood by those who were there for America in its hour of greatest need.”
Addressing the health impacts of 9/11 for responders “is a national duty” Bloomberg said.
CNN’s Shawna Shepherd contributed to this report.
You can read the first post about this subject on citizen zoo here: World Trade Center workers’ health problems
(New York-WABC, September 5, 2006) (WABC) — On September 5, 2006 Mount Sinai Hospital released one of the largest studies done on first responders to the World Trade Center Disaster.
The experts who conducted the story and reported on it today say it paints a bleak picture, and suggests as many as 70 percent of those who responded to the disaster and turned out to help had, have or will face long term health consequences.
Here are quotes from several who attended the announcement of the study:
Dr. Philip Landrigan, Chair, Department of Community and Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai:
Speaking at a news conference regarding the release of the study, Dr. Landrigan said this of the dust at Ground Zero, the landfills, and other areas:
“This was extremely toxic dust. This dust, the largest single component of it was pulverized concrete with a PH of 10 or 11 which is to say is very alkaline and has the PH of practically Draino. And the people who inhaled this material in time in any particular form- it penetrated deep into their lungs and penetrated deep into their sinus cavities, causing profound irritation and scarring, and we know additionally that the second major component of the dust was trillions upon trillions of shards, microscopic shards of glass which people inhaled again deep into their lungs. We know asbestos was the third component. And given the extraordinarily toxic nature of this stew it’s a very logical projection to anticipate long term disease.”
Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY):
Speaking at the press conference announcing the findings from the Mt. Sinai Medical Center World Trace Center Worker and Volunteer Medical Screening Program:
“One thing Dr Herbert didn’t mention which is in the overall report is that 40 percent of the people that came here for screening had no insurance. Some of them never have had insurance, and others lost their insurance when they lost their job or when they became disabled and could no longer work. So we are talking about 40 percent of the people who have been screened here had no insurance. So imagine how they felt. You have respitory problems, you have gastrointestinal problems, you may need some mental health follow-ups. Well, thank you very much, how am I going to get that, I have no insurance. So we were able to get 125 million dollars in 9/11 worker aide. We had to keep fighting to put it in the budget. ”
Quote from Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY):
“Almost three thousand people lost their lives on 9/11. The period of data that is being released today confirms that many many more lost their health. Anyone that has been following the growing health crisis knows that it is long past time for the federal government to release a concrete coordinated plan that ensures that everyone that was exposed to the deadly toxins at ground zero is medically monitors and everyone who is sick is treated. We have just heard Dr. Herbert. The picture she paints is bleak. The crisis is far worse than any of us that were deeply involved in it ever expected. We thought half were sick. The numbers today shockingly show that almost 70 percent screened experienced direct health effects of 9/11, and that 60 percent continue to be sick and that 40 percent have do not have any health coverage.
We have to remember that the numbers they are releasing today show only a fraction of the crisis in the number of people who are sick. These numbers do not include the 15,000 firefighters, and fire officers who are being monitored in a separate program. These numbers do not include the thousands of federal workers who worked on the site. These numbers to do not include thousands upon thousands of area workers, residents and school children who were exposed to the same deadly toxins, and they tell my office that they too are sick and they are pleading to be part of the monitoring program.”