After over 200 hundred bone fragments have been found in recent searches for remains at the World Trade Center site, Mayor Bloomberg is expanding the search considerably. Here's the Mayor's press release about a report from the Despartment of Design and Construction:
Although the report finds that the vast majority of the site had been thoroughly searched and is free of human remains, it recommends the continued excavations on the haul road where remains have been recovered (the haul road runs parallel to West Street, from Vesey to Liberty Streets, along the western edge of the World Trade Center site); the exploratory excavation of the 140 Liberty Street parcel, the former site of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church; the searching of selected subterranean structures in neighboring streets, such as Con Edison, Verizon, and DEP manholes (at the Mayor's request, these searches will exceed the report's recommendations because all the material from these locations will be removed and sifted by OCME); and the development of protocols for future construction on the site which would include having the City's Medical Examiner on site to observe all future construction in areas that have not been excavated since 9/11. This work will continue to be coordinated with the Port Authority and no construction delays are anticipated as a result.
In addition, OCME will sift through the rooftops of two buildings, One Liberty Plaza and the Millennium Hotel to make sure there are no human remains. All the rooftops of area buildings have been visually inspected but the roofs of those two buildings have ballast surfaces, making a visual search inconclusive. Finally, OCME will search through damaged areas and areas exposed to the environment on 9/11 in the Deutsche Bank building (130 Liberty Street), Fiterman Hall (30 West Broadway), and 130 Cedar Street to make sure there are no human remains within the buildings.
The new search could take a year or longer and may require street closures.
Some victims' families are arguing that the city's efforts may not be the answer. Sally Regenhard, whose son Christian's remains were never recovered, told the NY Times, "Doing more of the same wrong thing in a larger area cannot serve any useful purpose," and wishes that the city would allow the federal Joint P.O.W.-M.I.A. Accounting Command to do the job. This week, officials admitted that the original remains searches were rushed. The city also tested the air for asbestos as five year old debris was being unearthed; the air was safe.
The new searches have been debated by our readers. Here is one comment:
when two 110 story buildings collapse, bits and peices go flying for miles in every direction. Debris was falling across the harbor in Brooklyn. It is completely insane to expect to find all the remains, and anyone who is surprised that remains are still being found today is either a complete moron or a dishonest person bent on using the tragedy for personal gain. And that includes the families of the deceased, who benefit in no way from recovering a dried up bone fragment. If they feel they do, then that only means they need more therapy, not to sue the city.
The city was also under a great deal of societal pressure to start rebuilding and cutting the searches short. And many people do complain about the slow rebuilding progress at Ground Zero. But since the city has admitted it was hasty in its initial efforts, doesn't it owe people the chance to at least collect debris that can be examined? Or should families' only knowledge that their loved one is gone is the fact that they are no longer here? Could construction back have started in 2002 even during a search? There are endless moral vs. practical, economic vs. compassionate arguments.