As first reported here earlier this month, the Zadroga 9/11 Act opens the Victim Compensation Fund to a wide range of workers and volunteers who helped in the clean-up of the World Trade Center sites who were present beyond just the date of the attacks , unlike the original Victims Compensation Fund. This includes utility workers.
One of our first 9/11 clients was a young New Jersey telecommunications technician who worked for Sprint for months after the attack restoring service. Unfortunately, due to his exposures at Ground Zero, he was diagnosed with, and later died from, interstitial lung disease. Interstitial lung disease is often caused by exposure to dusts, including asbestos and silica. Despite his family’s tremendous loss, we were later able to obtain a substantial financial award for his widow and children.
Another one of our clients who worked for Verizon at the WTC site restoring service was later diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer (carcinoma). Thankfully, this young man’s cancer is now in remission and he has since returned to work. We are now working on his Victims’ Compensation Fund claim. Finally, one of our long-standing client’s who was working for an electrical contractor was recently diagnosed with leukemia, a blood cancer too often seen among 9/11 rescue and repair workers, due in part to the high amount of the toxic chemical “benzene” found at Ground Zero. We are now preparing to file his claim with the Victim Compensation Fund.
As you can tell, one large category of workers and volunteers that were crucial to the cleanup efforts were the utility workers such as Con Ed, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and other utility workers who worked in the WTC area in the 8 1/2 months after 9/11. Also included in the new Victim Compensation Fund are the Verizon workers who were in the Verizon offices at 140 West Street on the date of the attacks who suffered injures on 9/11 or have developed any 9/11-related illnesses since that time.
Most importantly, the Zadroga 9/11 Act vastly expanded the Victims Compensation Fund by not limiting claimants to the area around the World Trade Center site itself, but expanding it to the surrounding buildings and lower Manhattan neighborhoods. In particular, the Victim Compensation Fund was expanded to include workers at:
- the World Trade Center site,
- the buildings or portions of buildings that were destroyed as a result of the terrorist-related aircraft,
- any area contiguous to a site of such crashes that the Special Master determines was sufficiently close to the site that there was a demonstrable risk of physical harm resulting from the impact of the aircraft or any subsequent fire, explosions, or building collapses (including the immediate area in which the impact occurred, fire occurred, portions of buildings fell, or debris fell upon and injured individuals), (such as dust, debris, etc.), and
- any area related to, or along, routes of debris removal, such as barges and Fresh Kills.