Families of the victims of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York City say revelations that partial remains of several victims from the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa., were incinerated by a military contractor and sent to a landfill could prompt them to re-open their case against the city.
The disposal of more than 1.6 million tons of debris from the World Trade Center at Fresh Kills led to a 2005 lawsuit alleging that remains were left at the Staten Island landfill. Plaintiffs sought to force the city to bury the material separately. Their suit was dismissed, and unsuccessfully appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"At the very least, maybe we can put something in place that would legally bar people from doing such a horrible thing," said Diane Horning, mother of a 9/11 victim and member of the group WTC Families for Proper Burial.
"Right now, they do it, and if they're caught, they say they're sorry and they won't do it again. But there's no ramification. As far as they're concerned, it's just dirt.
Horning said her group's attorney, Norman Siegel, is looking into whether there's cause to re-open the case in light of the new revelations.
The surprise disclosure came Tuesday in a report about management flaws at Dover Air Force Base mortuary in Delaware.
Horning said that after her years of struggle over the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, she can understand what the families affected by the latest disclosure are going through.
"I know that a lot of these families didn't realize they were going to suffer the same horror that we did, but they did rally with us about our burial issue," she said. "And so, for them to be hit with this now, it just breaks my heart."