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World Trade Center Families Rebuffed by High Court

The U.S. Supreme Court turned away an appeal from relatives of some Sept. 11 victims, refusing to revive their effort to have residue from the World Trade Center collapse moved from a New York City landfill to a cemetery.

The lawsuit, pressed by families of 11 victims, claimed that the residue at the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island contains human body parts. The families said they don’t accept the assurances from city officials that all the material has been finely sifted.

The families contended that their property and religious rights were violated by the city’s refusal to take additional steps to identify remains. Two lower courts, including a New York-based federal appeals court, said the family members didn’t have a viable claim.

“We’re extremely disappointed and will be talking with the 9-11 family members to determine whether there are other options for them,” said Norman Siegel, the lawyer representing the families.

Remains weren’t found for 1,100 of the 2,752 people who died at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, when al-Qaeda hijackers crashed airplanes into the towers.

“The city approached the task with dignity, care and respect, and as a result, thousands of human remains and personal items were located,” said Peter Wies, deputy chief of the New York City Law Department’s World Trade Center unit.

The suit named Mayor Michael Bloomberg in addition to the city. The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

The case is World Trade Center for Proper Burial v. City of New York, 09-1467.

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