Volume 17 • Issue 32 • Dec. 31, 2004 - Jan. 6, 2005

E.P.A. attempts to clarify role at Deutsche Bank

By Ronda Kaysen

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to take a leadership role in the deconstruction of the contaminated Deutsche Bank building across from the World Trade Center, although the agency has yet to respond to a letter from the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. calling for the E.P.A. to lead the environmental aspects of the cleanup.

“The E.P.A. has already taken a leadership role [in planning the deconstruction,]” said Mary Mears, an agency spokesperson. Refuting recent articles in the New York Post and the Associated Press that reported the E.P.A. had abandoned plans to participate in the Deutsche Bank cleanup, Mears insists the agency intends to remain involved with the deconstruction of the 130 Liberty St. building throughout the process. “We do plan to be on site,” she said. Although, “we haven’t worked out all the details of how often we’ll be on site.”

Mears said the E.P.A. coordinated with various agencies in the deconstruction effort including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Department of Health and the L.M.D.C., which owns the building “We pulled these various agencies together,” she said. “We have been taking the lead and coordinating [with the L.M.D.C.]”

The E.P.A.’s expertise, Mears said is purely environmental and the agency does not have authority over any other government agency. “No one agency has authority over all aspects of the deconstruction,” she said.

The L.M.D.C. bought the building in order to allow for adjustments to the W.T.C. master plan, which included reducing the density of office space by expanding the site and adding a park.

Joanna Rose, an L.M.D.C. spokesperson, also refuted the recent reports of an E.P.A. withdrawal, maintaining that the E.P.A. has always participated in the Deutsche Bank cleanup. She did, however, note that agency administrator, Michael Leavitt, has yet to respond to L.M.D.C. president Kevin Rampe’s Dec. 13th letter, which followed two letters of a similar nature from United States Rep. Jerrold Nadler. “We’re still waiting to hear back from them,” she said.

“We have not formally responded to their letter,” said Mears. “We already have taken a leadership role.”

Catherine McVay Hughes, community liaison to the E.P.A. Expert Technical Panel, wonders what the agency means by “leadership role.” “If E.P.A. is taking a leadership role, why is L.M.D.C. holding the community briefings?” she said. “Maybe behind the scenes they are taking the leader, but as someone in the community, I don’t know how they are taking a leadership role. At the end of the day, if something goes wrong, who is to blame?”


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