9/11 victim fund area expands to Canal St.By RIDGELY OCHS
August 30, 2011
The geographic area covered by the 9/11 victim compensation fund will be expanded, but cancer cases are still excluded from the $2.75 billion fund.
That was the decision announced Monday by Special Master Sheila Birnbaum, who is publishing the final rule governing who is covered by and how to file claims under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. The act, passed in 2010, reopened the 9/11 victim compensation fund to include first responders or others injured in the terrorist attacks or cleanup at Ground Zero, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa.
The 55-page rule, to be published this week in the federal register, takes effect Oct. 3, when first responders, area residents or others affected by the attacks or who worked at cleanup sites can apply for compensation. In June, Birnbaum released a preliminary rule and throughout the summer held town hall meetings to hear from first responders and residents.
Much of the final rule remains unchanged, but in the first proposal, the crash site included the area in Manhattan south of the line that runs along Reade Street and Centre Street. Based on feedback at the town hall meetings, Birnbaum said Monday that she decided to expand the area to south of Canal Street. "We know hundreds of people treated . . . who would not have been included if we had kept the original boundaries," she said. "That was a real consideration."
Though she said there was not enough scientific evidence thus far to expand the list of medical conditions to include cancer, Birnbaum said she would reconsider if new data arise.
John Feal of the FealGood Foundation, the first responders' advocacy group, said he was content with the rule "other than cancer not being included. And I am confident it will be added by the end of the year."
In a joint statement, Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan), Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) and Peter King (R-Seaford), authors of the Zadroga bill, praised Birnbaum for expanding eligibility to those who live below Canal Street, "an area that was significantly impacted by the attacks."