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The Justice Department says a $2.78 billion compensation fund for ground zero workers and others experiencing long-term health effects from the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks is now open for claimants to register.

Created by Congress, the fund is designed to help people suffering from lung disease and other respiratory ailments connected to the tons of caustic dust that blanketed lower Manhattan after the collapse of the twin towers.

As of Monday, victims are able to register online and receive a checklist of documents and information needed to accompany their claim submissions. They also can access a list of frequently asked questions on the fund's website, http://www.vcf.gov/.

The fund will begin accepting claims through the website next month. Staffers also will offer seminars on how to submit claims.

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