Fifteen people have received the first payments from the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, also known as the James Zadroga bill.
According to a New York Times report, the payments were delivered to 14 firefighters and one corrections officer this week. Payments ranged from $10,000 and $1.5 million and are compensation for injuries suffered while responding to the Ground Zero site at the former World Trade Center complex in Manhattan.
Known as first responders since Sept. 11, 2001, these and thousands more people rushed to the scene to assist the recovery and clean-up efforts following the terrorist attack that claimed thousands of lives when two commercial airliners crashed into the buildings. As they worked amid the rubble in the hours, days, and months after the tragedy, they were exposed to untold dangers in the air and from working amid the debris.
Jet fuel burned for days and it touched off other fires that exposed workers to industrial toxins at extremely dangerous levels. Many workers since those first few years have begun complaining of health problems that they believe were the result of their work at the Ground Zero site.
The James Zadroga bill opened about $2.8 billion in health insurance compensation to thousands of first responders who worked at the Ground Zero site. None of the initial payments were made to people who claim they developed cancer as a result of their work in Manhattan. The federal government only recently determined that some forms of cancer could be caused by the conditions at Ground Zero.
Estimates offered by The New York Times suggest that the government could pay more than $8.5 billion to victims through the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.