Anger voiced at NY meeting on 9/11 victim fund

July 27, 2011 8:07:55 PM PDT
First responders and others who say they became ill after working at ground zero did not hold back from voicing their anger and disappointment at a town hall meeting.

It was a small crowd in Queens Wednesday night, but there was enough frustration and anger, to fill the place.

"I just think it's an injustice," said a person attending the meeting.

Many who attended think the $2.8 billion fund to compensate 9/11 first responders is unfair to those who spent significant amounts of time in Lower Manhattan, exposed to countless toxic chemicals, and later developed cancer.

"Cancer is not covered at this time," Reggie Hilaire said.

Hilaire is 40-years-old and a cop who spent weeks in Lower Manhattan after September 11th.

He later developed two forms of cancer.

"I had two cancers within a year, and right before my son was born. I thought this couldn't be a coincidence," Hilaire said.

"I probably inhaled blood, I probably inhaled all kinds of things that are damaging, who knows, when I got covered in dust," said Susan Lester, a town hall participant.

But the professionals say the number of cancer cases is not much higher than those found in the general population and so shouldn't be covered by this fund.

As more evidence comes in: "We'll find out more as we go along, we have five years, people are frustrated they want answers today, but cancers take a long time to develop, and we have to have under the statute evidence to make the connection," Special Master Sheila Birnbaum said.

"We're not trying to scam people since people are sick, and I just feel, they say, take time, take time, but how long will it take?" Hilaire said.