Ground Zero workers to get $712 mn as compensation

Compensation is for those who suffered injuries during WTC wreckage cleanup.

New York: Workers, firefighters and police officers at the Ground Zero who suffered injuries and health problems during the clean up of the World Trade Centre wreckage, will receive USD 712 million as compensation.

An earlier package proposed in March of USD 657 million was rejected by judge Alvin Hellerstein as inadequate who described the workers as "heroes".

The American media reported that part of this boost came because lawyers for the workers agreed to reduce their fees they were charging their clients.

"There is no better deal," said Hellerstein, a Manhattan Federal Judge, according to the New York Post. "This is the deal that people have to decide to accept or reject. It`s time that this lawsuit ended," he said, describing the case as a "terrible tear in the social fabric of this country".

Under the agreement, the people who were hit worst by toxic dust from 9/11 attacks will receive the major share of the payment.

The payments would range from USD 3,250 for plaintiffs who have no qualifying injury but fear they may become sick to as much as USD 2 million for survivors who can demonstrate a link between a worker`s death and their presence at ground zero, according to the New York Times.

The settlement must be approved by 95 percent of the plaintiffs in the case by September 30 to take effect, the newspaper said, following which workers could begin receiving compensation within weeks.

"This is a fair settlement of a difficult and complex case that will allow first responders and workers to be fairly compensated for injuries suffered following their work at Ground Zero," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, according to the Post.

NYT pointed out that a study of nearly 13,000 workers published in April found that exposure to the thick clouds of dust near ground zero that contained pulverised glass and cement, insulation fibres, asbestos and toxic chemicals, contributed to a significant rise in lung function.

This manifested itself in by symptoms like coughing, wheezing or sore throats, and nearly 1,000 workers had more serious diagnoses, like asthma or chronic bronchitis.

The case brings closure and relief for several victims who are in a terminal state.

The Post reported that Joe Picurro, a 43-year-old iron worker, was recently told by his doctor that he might die in six months because of a host of diseases that have ravaged his lungs.

"What I want to do is get all my things settled, pay all my bills and buy a house for my wife and daughter. My biggest worry is to leave them homeless and broke," he said.

PTI

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