The 9/11 compensation fund is running out of money

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tags: terrorism, 9/11, victims

ON SEPTEMBER 12TH 2001, John Feal, a demolition worker, went to the fiery pit that was Ground Zero to help recover those lost and to help clean up the rubble of the World Trade Centre. Five days later an 8,000lb (3,630kg) piece of steel fell on his foot, crushing it. After nearly dying from infections and losing part of his foot, Mr Feal found out that he was not eligible for financial help for his medical care. He created the Feal Good Foundation and became an advocate for his fellow first responders, travelling with busloads of firefighters and other sick or injured survivors to Washington to urge Congress to pass a bill paying for medical care and monitoring. After years of lobbying, in 2010 Congress passed the James Zadroga September 11 Health and Compensation Act to provide free medical care and create both a health registry and a victim compensation fund (VCF).

The need was great. Thousands of first responders and survivors as well as those who worked and lived downtown were not well. When the towers fell a cloud of dust, made up of glass fibres, asbestos, lead, pulverised cement and a host of other carcinogens, was spewed into the air. Some first responders got sick right away, developing “World Trade Centre cough”, a persistent hacking. For many, illnesses, often deadly ones, did not reveal themselves for years. Some are battling several ailments simultaneously, from gastrointestinal illness and respiratory disease to an array of rare cancers. James Zadroga, a police officer who worked for more than 450 hours in the debris, developed a cough and later was unable to breathe without an oxygen tank. His death in 2006 was the first to be attributed to exposure to the dust at Ground Zero. It was not the last. More than 100 officers exposed to the hazardous materials have since died. More than 180 firefighters and 15 FBI agents have died from illnesses related to the disaster. According to the VCF’s administrator, the fund saw a 235% increase in death claims in 2018 compared with 2015.

Read entire article at The Economist

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