Earth movers collect debris in an effort to recover remains and evidence at Ground Zero. February 22, 2002 in New York City. The debris are then sent to a landfill on Staten Island to be sifted through for the third and final time. (Photo by Getty Images)
A lawyer for the city of New York urged a federal appeals court Wednesday to let officials leave a Staten Island landfill alone, even if it does contain ashes of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The lawyer, Jim Tyrrell, told the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that a lower court judge was correct to toss out a lawsuit brought by 17 families of those killed when the 110-story World Trade Center twin towers collapsed.
An Attorney for the families, Norman Siegel told the three judge panel in Manhattan Wednesday that people he represents want fine particles of debris containing remains to be taken away from a garbage dump on Staten Island to a more respectful place.
A lower court judge had ruled that it was not an issue for the court to decide.
At one point Wednesday, city lawyer Jim Tyrrell referred to the debris as "undifferentiated dirt."
Siegel said it was as if relatives were left on top of garbage.
The court did not immediately rule.