Utica Fire Chief Russ Brooks has been battling cancer for several years, and says doctors have told him his illness is directly tied to the toxic dust he inhaled at Ground Zero.

Brooks made the revelation on WIBX First News with Keeler in the Morning on Wednesday in discussing his opposition to a proposed asphalt and concrete plant slated for North Utica - which the city council may vote on tonight. His comments were directed at the concerns he has with such a facility being located not far from residential neighborhoods, businesses and the Mohawk River.

'I was at 9/11. They came out and said that dust was not a health hazard. I got cancer from that...they attributed [my cancer] directly to Ground Zero. So maybe I'm a little leery when they tell me there's isn't a health hazard,' Brooks said.

Brooks said he and many others have battled illness from the pulverized building dust that many others were exposed to when the World Trade towers collapsed.

'Many more have had long term effects and are suffering right now...and more [suffering] than I have had,' Brooks said.

The soon to be 68-year-old fire chief says his cancer is 'not gone', but is in remission and said he undergoes blood tests every few months to determine whether further chemotherapy is required.

A 40-plus-year veteran of the fire service, Brooks was part of a contingent of Utica fire officials who drove to New York City in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terror attack. The news comes at the nation prepares to remembrances and memorials this weekend to mark the 15th anniversary of the attack.

 

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