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Ground Zero site workers sue over pollutants exposure

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SITE WORKERS who carried out the clean up of New York's Ground Zero site have launched a series of class actions against the four contractors that led the work in the immediate aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks.

The actions will claim hundreds of workers are sick or dying because of the presence of asbestos, toluene and many other pollutants in the Ground Zero debris.

Bovis Lend Lease, Amec Construction Management, Tully Construction Company and Turner Construction are named in the civil prosecution, along with site owners Silverstein Properties and World Trade Center Properties.

New York legal firm Worby, Groner, Edelman and Napoli Bern is bringing the action on behalf of 14 of the site workers who cleaned up the 1.6Mt of rubble generated from the collapse of the World Trade Center towers and four other buildings.

As a class action the claims also represent all other workers similarly affected.

'The bottom line is that thousands of people are getting sick, ' lawyer Davied Worby told NCE. 'They had absolutely no protective equipment in what is the most toxic site in US history, from respirators to protective clothing.'

He said the site had hundreds of different pollutants in the pulverised remains of the buildings, from benzo-pyrene to asbestos.

The action he is bringing is twofold, he said, involving civil claims against the commercial entities involved and 'notices of claims' against bodies such as the New York City authority and the US Environmental Protection Agency, which have the legal responsibilities for the sites.

None of the companies involved would comment directly on the claim at this stage.

But the Lend Lease Corporation has issued a statement noting that a special purpose insurance company supported by a $1bn (£667M) federal fund was created by the City of New York to defend against claims of this type.

Worby said the case could take about three to five years to run its course.

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