New York City has agreed to compensate construction and rescue workers made ill from the dust produced by the collapse of the World Trade Center to the tune of up to $657 million.
Thousands of claimants said city authorities had sent them to the remains of the 16-acre site in lower Manhattan without proper protective equipment, with many alleging they had since contracted various illnesses and conditions, including asthma and cancer, as a direct result.
The case was fought in court for years before lawyers representing the city, construction companies and more than 10,000 ground zero rescue and recovery workers agreed to the settlement.
The deal was announced by the WTC Captive Insurance Co, a special entity established to indemnify the city and its contractors against potential legal action as they moved to clean up the site after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. It must be approved by a judge and the workers themselves before it is passed. If passed, it would make the city and other companies represented by the insurer liable for a minimum of $575 million, with more money available to the sick if certain conditions are met.
It is thought that the majority of the sum will be covered a $1 billion grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the settlement “a fair and reasonable resolution to a complex set of circumstances”.