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July 29, 2002

Contact: Geoff Ryan (718) 595-6600

Exterior Building Cleanup Moves Ahead In Lower Manhattan

Commissioner Christopher O. Ward of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced today that the Exterior Building Cleanup Program in Lower Manhattan has met with considerable early success. Begun on June 7th, with significant support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), this effort has shown mostly minimal presence of asbestos and other contaminants from World Trade Center debris on the roofs and exteriors of buildings in the downtown area.

The Exterior Building Cleanup Program is part of a federal, state and local government effort to reassure the public that air quality in lower Manhattan is, and will continue to be, safe for residents, workers and visitors. Commissioner Ward said, "By instituting progressive initiatives such as the Exterior Building Cleanup Program, we are working to promote public confidence and help foster the resurgence of Lower Manhattan as a residential and business community. Throughout the clean-up process, we have been able to proceed with the unwavering support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency."

The Exterior Building Cleanup Program is entirely funded by a $10.1 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, through the FEMA/State of New York Public Assistance Program. President Bush authorized FEMA to pay the full cost of the clean-up program following the declaration of disaster in Lower Manhattan after September 11th. FEMA is also funding the EPA's interior cleanup of residential apartments in Lower Manhattan.

"Our aim is a safe and secure environment in lower Manhattan for the millions of residents, workers and visitors who spend time there," said FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh. "Supporting the city's efforts to reduce and eliminate any possible harmful effects caused by the continued presence of this material is FEMA's goal."

Under the Exterior Building Cleanup Program, building owners whose properties have been identified as having World Trade Center debris are eligible to have the debris removed by licensed asbestos contractors at no cost. To date, more than 1,000 buildings in the downtown area have been inspected by DEP specialists. Three quarters of the buildings inspected have shown no evidence of debris. Of those upon which debris has been identified, 81 buildings have been cleaned to date, and an additional 56 buildings are either in the process of being cleaned or have been scheduled for future cleanup. Apart from the DEP-FEMA program, 60 buildings have been cleaned independently by building owners. A small number of buildings south of Canal Street remain to be scheduled for cleanup.

People interested in more information about the Exterior Building Clean-up Program may contact DEP at (718) DEP-HELP. This program is separate from the indoors residential clean-up program administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For information on the indoor program, interested parties may call the EPA's hotline at 1-877-796-5471.


More Information

NYC Department of Environmental Protection
Public Affairs

59-17 Junction Boulevard
19th Floor
Flushing, NY 11373

(718) 595-6600