Glen Cove 9/11 fragment to be tested by cityBy PAUL LAROCCO
January 28, 2011
Glen Cove sees its pockmarked chunk of concrete and steel as a symbol. For some families of Sept. 11 attack victims, it could become much more.
As the Nassau County city started planning an event marking the attack's 10-year anniversary, officials uncovered what they believe is a piece of Ground Zero.
Roughly a foot long and 6 inches thick and wide, the weathered scrap had been stashed in a canvas tool bag in the City Hall basement.
Some Glen Cove leaders recall it coming from a resident who worked in recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site. The city has offered the slab to New York City's medical examiner in the hopes genetic material may be recovered from it, perhaps helping identify victims whose remains haven't been found.
"To so many families who are still seeking DNA for their loved ones, this just might raise some hope," said John Feal of Nesconset, a Ground Zero first responder who became an activist for sickened rescue and recovery workers. "You want everybody to have closure."
Mayor Ralph Suozzi expects to hand-deliver the debris to forensic investigators in the next few weeks.
"My first thought was, 'Gee, should we have this?' " Suozzi said. "And is this more important than a piece of rock?"
The 40-pound slab, rust colored and containing specks of unidentifiable matter, sat in storage for years. Suozzi took office in 2006 and had not seen it until this month, he said.
Putting aside plans to bury the memento at a waterfront memorial, the mayor called Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) for guidance. "I don't know of anybody else that's ever done this, to be honest with you," King said by phone Thursday. "He didn't want it on his conscience, and I give him credit."
King's staff contacted the medical examiner's office, which continues to test excavated Ground Zero debris for genetic material that may identify the roughly 1,100 victims whose remains have not been found. The Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center killed 2,752.
Early this month, Barbara Butcher, chief of staff for the medical examiner's director of forensic investigations, spoke with Glen Cove Deputy Mayor Maureen Basdavanos.
The medical examiner's office did not respond to a request for comment Thursday, but Basdavanos said representatives of the office viewed photos of the debris and told her while the chance of a discovery may be low, they still want it. "Maybe this could be a clue to somebody," she said.