Posted For: Willie Wonka
Mayor Adams is refusing to release a stash of potentially damning documents showing that the city covered up warnings about dangerous air and health hazards facing New Yorkers after 9/11 — unless the city is granted immunity from lawsuits, sources told The Post.
The stubborn stance comes as two New York Congress members demand the mayor release all records kept under wraps since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
“It has been 21 years since 9/11, and the city has still not come forward with information about what it knew in the aftermath of the attacks. There are thousands of 9/11 responders and survivors who have the right to this information,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney said in a statement last week.
Maloney and Rep. Jerry Nadler are calling on Adams – an ex-cop and 9/11 responder — to open the city’s files on what then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his administration knew from the get-go about health risks facing thousands of New Yorkers from the dust and smoke at Ground Zero, but kept the alarming information secret.
Sources on Saturday confirmed a New York Times report that a memo in early October 2001 to then-Deputy Mayor Robert Harding from an assistant warned the city faced up to 10,000 liability claims “including toxic tort cases that might arise in the next few decades.”
That document, still-unreleased, “is subject to privilege,” officials contend.
Other documents are under review, “but have been withheld because of the presence of ongoing and potential litigation.”
City lawyers have told Nadler and Maloney that Adams might divulge the documents if the feds grant the city immunity from further litigation.
Adams also wants to keep nearly $300 million remaining in a $1 billion defense fund provided by Congress shortly after 9/11 to pay claims stemming from the World Trade Center cleanup, they said.
That fund, run by an entity called the WTC Captive Insurance Co., settled a mass lawsuit by 10,000 Ground Zero responders in 2010, paying more than $700 million. But, with few exceptions, it has been largely dormant for a decade since the federal 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund reopened in 2011. To date, the VCF has doled out more than $10 billion to responders and others deemed to have suffered a 9/11-related illness – and who waive their right to sue.
Among other groups, 9/11 Environmental Action wants transparency. Director Kimberly Flynn said the city is “continuing to cover up disastrous decisions,” which advocates say failed to protect 9/11 workers and those who lived, worked, and went to school in Lower Manhattan.
“This is a disgrace and yet another betrayal of New Yorkers’ trust,” she said.
Andrew Carboy, a lawyer for 9/11 responders, said the city has a history of withholding key documents. In 2010, Carboy discovered it had deliberately concealed a 25-page “Respiratory Protection Program,” which mandated safety equipment for FDNY personnel in case of disasters – including a building collapse.
The city called the document “irrelevant,” but was ordered to turn it over. It revealed that firefighters lacked “air-purifying respirators” as they dug amid the dust and smoke at Ground Zero.
Carboy’s firm then demanded the city turn over all other documents “shrouded from disclosure.” But the issue soon became moot when the city reached the $700 million settlement.