Senator Bob Smith
Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
Hearing on Biological Remediation
December 4, 2001
Mr. Chairman - Thank you for holding this hearing. Welcome to Governor Whitman - it is always good to see you before this Committee. I also want to welcome all of the witnesses who are here today.
There is no question that these are difficult times. Beginning on September 11, this nation has faced many of its worst nightmares - the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. And that was soon followed by the quiet horror of biological attacks.
Since September 18, several letters containing anthrax have terrorized this nation.
It has been devastating to our postal employees - and our nation sends our deepest sympathies to those brave public servants who continue to do their duty in these very difficult times.
Those who are the innocent victims of this terror cover the spectrum, from a seven month old little boy, who was diagnosed with cutaneous anthrax B to a 94 year-old woman, who just recently died. We send our deepest condolences to families and friends of the victims of these cowardly attacks.
Of course, we here in the Senate, have also felt the sting of anthrax. Letters containing anthrax sent to the Senate have left many up here quite shaken. Most of us have been tested for anthrax exposure and many continue to take CIPRO as a precaution. Twenty eight Senate employees have tested positive for exposure, but fortunately, no infections.
And while it has been a difficult time, we have been lucky that the difficulties have, thus far, only been inconveniences. These attacks have also left us with the dilemma of how to remediate the contamination of the numerous affected buildings.
There is an uneasiness with many who were in these buildings when the anthrax arrived and who will be going back into them when the clean up is completed. We are all more than a little uneasy when dealing with so many unknowns - and I do not envy you, Governor Whitman, or anyone else involved in the testing and cleanup.
The nation has many questions, concerns and fears - and the answers are not easy. It is certainly a daunting task. It is my hope that today, you and the other witnesses, will take this opportunity to address many of the questions that we all have.
There is much that has been done over the past few days and we are all certainly anxious to hear how the remedial activity of the Hart Senate Office Building went over the weekend. Hart is undoubtedly the testing ground for other anthrax clean ups, so it is important that the work is done in a deliberate manner. I hope that has been the case.
Governor, I do want to take this moment to thank you, Marianne Horinko and all of those at the Environmental Protection Agency for their tireless work since the events of September 11. It has been a new world for your Agency - an unquestionable challenge - and I commend you and the entire agency for your efforts.
Thank you all again for coming here today and I look forward to your testimony.