CITY RELEASES NEW RECOVERY PLAN
Last week, the city of New York release a plan to search the underground periphery of the WTC site as well as the roof levels of surrounding buildings for possible remains of 9/11 victims. The city will hire up to ten additonal forensic anthropologists to assist in the expanded search, which could last a year. Click on the graphic at left for a detailed diagram of the search area. The numbers on the diagram are explained in accompanying New York Times Coverage. "We will make sure we have the appropriate resources to do this job," said Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler, who is overseeing the recovery. "The mayor's orders were very clear: 'Do what needs to be done,'" Skyler is quoted in Associated Press coverage. Click to read a press release on the new plan, and click here to download the full report.
In related news, the Medical Examiner's office recently identified two more remains from the site using advanced DNA analysis. Remains have been returned to the families of Karen Martin, a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11, which struck the North Tower, and Paul Stone, a passenger on the flight. Remains from a third victim were identified, but the name withheld at their family's request.
City officials emphasized that the remains of Martin, Stone and the third man were not found among the hundreds of remains recently discovered at the former Deutsche Bank tower or a manhole on West St. According to NY Daily News coverage, the identifications became possible when new DNA samples from family members were obtained. City officials have not speculated when the new remains--numbering almost 1000 combined so far--might be indentified. However the remains found below ground are said to be in optimal condition for DNA analysis, and will likely yield further identifications.
9/11 FAMILIES PROTEST CITY PLAN, CLAIM SEARCH PLAN NOT SUFFICIENT
A group of about 200 9/11 Family advocates and supporters protested the City's plan yesterday, calling for federal intervention in the expanded search for human remains in the area of the WTC site. Many prominent politicians--including U.S. Representatives Christopher Shays (R-CT) (read statement), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and Jerrold Nadler and Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer (both D-NY) added their support for the drive to call in JPAC--the U.S. miltary unit that searches for the remains of missing soldiers around the world. "
The city says they can do it – but the City shouldn’t be going it alone.
They’ve had five years, and the job hasn’t been completed. And that’s because this shouldn’t be a City issue. This was an attack on our nation, and the nation should join the City in taking responsibility for the recovery operation
," Rep. Maloney said in
her prepared remarks.
Responding to the criticism, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg disagreed, casting his refusal to call in JPAC as an issue of city responsibility, and claiming that the city can do the job better because of its knowledge of the area. "It's the city's responsibility. We're not going to walk away from our responsibility and let somebody else bear the pressure of the work. Our medical examiner has an enormous amount of experience and competency," Bloomberg is quoted in NY Daily News coverage. "We have a complete plan to make sure that we go every single place, and this is an investigation where, when you have the expertise, you really want to do it locally." Bloomberg has been criticized in the past for being insensitive to the concerns of 9/11 family members. That perception has been reinforced by his firm refusal in the face of overwhelming demands for federal intervention. But Bloomberg seems unafraid to stand alone on this contentious issue.
Family members at the protest say the city's record speaks for itself: five years after the attacks large caches of remains are still being found. Bringing in JPAC would be a welcome signal of a new approach to, and new oversight of, the recovery. On a different level, it would make the families feel better--no small thing in the midst of such a difficult process. Diane Horning of WTC Families for Proper Burial spoke at the rally: "It would end this tortuous accidental discovery of our dead,” she said. “Outside experts’ assistance makes sense all around. It’s good for the family; it’s good for the rescue and recovery workers; it’s good for the construction workers; it’s good for the city, the residents and the local businesses,” as quoted in Newsday coverage.