By Julie Shapiro
LOWER MANHATTAN — Family members of 9/11 victims are ramping up their efforts to derail the city's plan to entomb thousands of unidentified human remains in a museum at Ground Zero.
More than a dozen families say they were never told that the 9,000 unidentified remains would be placed 70 feet below street level, which they find disrespectful.
As the 10th anniversary of the attacks approaches, the families are calling on the city to release the addresses of all 2,749 victims' relatives, so that they can be informed of the plans and give their opinion.
"Mayor Bloomberg and his cronies do not own my son," Rosemary Cain, whose firefighter son, George Cain, was killed, said at a press conference near the World Trade Center on Thursday.
"These are our beloved remains. We have the right to decide where they will spend eternity."
Cain and others object to having to descend through a public museum to reach the remains, which will sit in a sealed space between the Twin Towers footprints.
More than 1,100 families have never received any remains of their loved ones following the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Norman Siegel, a lawyer representing the families, said it was the city's job to notify the families about the plans for the remains, but since the city has not done so, the families are now taking the responsibility upon themselves.
Siegel filed a Freedom of Information Law request Wednesday evening, asking the city for the addresses of all 9/11 families, so he can send them a letter asking their opinion.
A spokesman for the city said it would violate families' privacy to release their addresses, so "of course that is not something we will do."
Seigel said the privacy issues are moot, because he is requesting that the city turn the list of addresses over to a retired judge, who would serve as a neutral party and would use it only to send out a single mailing. Siegel said he and the families would never see the list.
A spokesman for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum said rebuilding officials have repeatedly consulted with families, through many mailings, forums and hearings over the past 10 years.
"[The families] have repeatedly stated it is essential the remains return to the sacred bedrock of the site," the spokesman said in a statement.
Several 9/11 family members recently wrote a letter of support for the current plan, saying it "treats the remains with the utmost care, respect and reverence."
But Jim Riches, whose firefighter son, Jim Riches Jr., was killed on 9/11, said the city is turning the remains into a tourist attraction by placing them in the museum.
Riches, a retired FDNY deputy chief, worked to recover human remains at Ground Zero in the months after 9/11 and said he and other workers always treated them with the utmost dignity.
"We saluted them as they [were] carried out," Riches said Thursday. "I wish the city would treat them with as much respect as we did."