WASHINGTON – A program supposed to monitor the health of thousands of federal workers who answered the call of 9/11 has been lost for more than two years, the New York Daily News has learned.

“We seem to have inherited our own Loch Ness monster in terms of being able to find this monitoring,” said Jon Adler, vice president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers’ Association.

Programs were developed to check on the health of every other group that rushed to Ground Zero during and after the Sept. 11 attacks, primarily the World Trade Center Medical Screening Program run by the Mount Sinai Medical Center. Officials involved told The News that federal officials barred their workers from that program because they were setting up their own.

Unfortunately, that program vanished during the bureaucratic shuffle creating the Department of Homeland Security.

After trying for months to find out what happened, the office Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., was able to uncover only that a branch of the Department of Health and Human Services got $3.7 million for the work. But it started and stopped in 2003, seeing fewer than 600 people.

“I was told there was a “lull,”‘ said Maloney, who fired off a letter to HHS this week seeking explanations. “This is unacceptable, these men and women are certainly not experiencing a lull in the health effects they are suffering from exposure to toxins at Ground Zero.”

An HHS spokesman insisted the program had not been lost but that screeners with the Federal Occupational Health Service ran into more problems than they expected.

“It was put on a temporary hold while we have been fixing those problems,” said Bill Hall, an HHS spokesman. He could not explain the problems or why monitoring stopped for more than two years. He said it would resume soon with workers who signed up originally.

But of nearly a dozen federal law enforcers contacted by The News, only one said he ever got a chance to ask for monitoring.

“We’re not asking for anything crazy,” said an investigator who wants to sign up. “We just want someone to take a look at us in case, God forbid, 20 years down the line we start getting some strange kinds of cancer from everything we were exposed to down there.”


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