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Lawsuit: Man fired for doubting 9/11 memorial's health, security

NEW YORK -- A former manager at the Sept. 11 memorial was fired for raising health and security concerns at one of the most security-conscious places in the world, he said in a lawsuit filed Friday.

As facilities director, Thomas Cancelliere alerted his bosses that the water in the memorial's signature fountains carried illness-causing bacteria, the exit gates were too narrow and could hinder an evacuation, and there were no security checks at a public parking garage directly below the off-site room where the memorial's millions of visitors are screened, the lawsuit said.

"Unfortunately, Mr. Cancelliere's concern for the safety of visitors was not shared by his supervisors," who told him the issues weren't his responsibility or were being addressed, even though they weren't, the lawsuit said.

The National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum said his claims are baseless and Cancelliere was fired because he failed to meet job requirements.

"Tom Cancelliere was terminated because of his documented failure to live up to the performance standards of our organization. His baseless claims have absolutely no merit and are being used to try and leverage a large financial settlement," spokesman Michael Frazier said in a statement.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages under the state whistle-blower-protection law.

Cancelliere, 67, was fired last month in what his bosses said was cost-cutting but he calls retaliation, according to the suit, filed in a Manhattan state court. No one else was axed at the time, it said.

The nonprofit memorial foundation spent about $28 million last year and is ramping up to lay out $60 million a year once an accompanying museum opens, including about $12 million a year on security.