06/10/2004 at 12:00 PM EDT
Tom Cruise inaugurated a Scientology-based detoxification program on Long Island, N.Y., on Wednesday aimed at treating rescue workers exposed to caustic materials after 9/11, according to published reports.
"It's been almost three years since the attacks, and thousands are still suffering," Cruise, who co-founded the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project, is quoted as saying by Britain's BBC and France's Agence France-Presse. "That's unacceptable to me, to these heroes, and to their families."
The center is the second to be sponsored by a fundraising drive spearheaded by the star, according to his spokeswoman (and sister), Lee Anne DeVette. Cruise, 41, hosted a project benefit at Manhattan's American Museum of Natural History.
The first center, which was opened two years ago in Manhattan and has reportedly treated 400 people to date, was funded, in part, by L. Ron Hubbard's controversial Church of Scientology, of which Cruise is a high-profile member.
The alternative treatment, outlined in Hubbard's book Clear Body, Clear Mind, utilizes a regime of "exercise, sauna sweat-out, vitamins and minerals" to cleanse rescue workers' bodies of toxins.
DeVette says her brother "will open several more of the facilities through the rest of the year. ... It's something he cares a great deal about and it helps so much."