RECOVERED HISTORY: THE WORLD TRADE CENTER DISASTER REVISITED
Thanks to the Van Jones brouhaha, the
The Review has doubted the likelihood that the Bush regime deliberately rigged the 9/11 attacks for three basic reasons: (1) the lack of convincing evidence, (2) the fact that they were too dumb to pull it off and (3) there are a lot easier and less risky ways of starting a war. That said, we have also recognized the large number of anomalies involved in the specifics of the attacks for which neither the government nor the media have given decent explanations.
We have been particularly interested in structural issues because of the considerable evidence that the buildings were not as well built as they might have been. This possibility has been largely ignored by the media, even though it could answer some of the issues that have been raised. Further, if this were the case, it would explain some of the mishandling and cover ups of the investigation. For example, there would be humungous legal liability if improper construction were found to be a cause of the towers' collapse. There is also the possibility that an investigation into the structural issues might throw light on other questions that have been raised by others.
The Review has been a lonely voice pointing to professional evidence from architects, engineers and fire experts that the World Trade Center disaster was far greater than it had to be due to the failure to observe city building codes and to grossly inadequate fireproofing.
To accept this view would, however, would be to recognize that the
To put it simply: the evidence points to an incident that might have killed hundreds - but not thousands - if the buildings had been properly constructed. We pick up this Times story a full 17 paragraphs in:
NY Times - The trade center was built by the Port Authority, which is not subject to any building codes. Despite promises by the Port Authority to "meet or exceed" the
Not made clear in the Times story is how critical use of more closely spaced uprights encased in concrete or terra cotta blocks, rather than just fireproofing, would have been. In fact, the 1993 bombing of the same building occurred in at its bottom - built according to traditional standards - which is perhaps why the buildings were still around on September 11
NY Daily News - With New Yorkers already fuming about reports that the feds downplayed the danger of Ground Zero dust, the White House gave EPA chief Christie Whitman the power to bury embarrassing documents by classifying them "secret.". . .
Although the stated reason for Bush's directive is to keep "national security information" from falling into enemy hands, advocates for thousands of ailing Ground Zero heroes are convinced there's a more sinister motive. "I think the rationale behind this was to not let people know what they were potentially exposed to," said Joel Kupferman of the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project. "They're using the secrecy thing to cover up their malfeasance and past deceptions.". . .
Whitman, who resigned as EPA chief in May 2003, could not be reached for comment yesterday. In a Newsweek interview that year, she said the White House never told her to lie about the air quality. However, Whitman conceded that she did not object when words of caution were edited out of her public statements. "We didn't want to scare people," she said.
911 Research - Some 185,101 tons of structural steel have been hauled away from Ground Zero. Most of the steel has been recycled as per the city's decision to swiftly send the wreckage to salvage yards in
The bulk of the steel was apparently shipped to
Given that the people in charge considered the steel garbage, useless to any investigation in this age of computer simulations, they certainly took pains to make sure it didn't end up anywhere other than a smelting furnace. They installed GPS locater devices on each of the trucks that was carrying loads away from Ground Zero, at a cost of $1000 each. . .
NY Times - Hundreds of buildings nationwide with fireproofing similar to that used in the
The investigators are studying the precise causes of the
Countless buildings put up since the 1960's have used the same type of lightweight, fluffy, spray-on fireproofing to protect their steel. Photographic evidence of the trade center suggests that this material, which is easily damaged, had gaps and possibly larger missing sections. Experts say similar problems are also found in ordinary high-rises. . .
Officials with the Port Authority of New York and
Only the cores of the twin towers, which held the elevators and escape stairwells, were built like traditional high-rises, with clusters of relatively heavy steel columns and beams linked together in a cage like matrix. Beyond that, the 110 floors in each tower contained roughly an acre of open space each, uncluttered by vertical support columns. . .
Spray-on fireproofing replaced the use of heavier materials, like terra-cotta blocks, after World War II, and became extremely common in the 1960's, when the
Joseph J. Rebando, Retired Battalion Chief In Letter To Ny Daily News - All new high rise buildings in NYC should be constructed under the 1938 building code, requiring all structural steel to be insulated by several inches of concrete and plaster. All components must be able to withstand fire and heat at elevated temperatures for four hours. This would provide ample time for evacuation and mitigate the total collapse of the structure.
Bill Manning, Fire Engineering Magazine - Did they throw away the locked doors from the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire? Did they throw away the gas can used at the Happyland Social Club Fire? Did they cast aside the pressure-regulating valves at the Meridian Plaza Fire? Of course not. But essentially, that's what they're doing at the
I have combed through our national standard for fire investigation, NFPA 921, but nowhere in it does one find an exemption allowing the destruction of evidence for buildings over 10 stories tall. Hoping beyond hope, I have called experts to ask if the towers were the only high-rise buildings in
Fire Engineering has good reason to believe that the "official investigation" blessed by FEMA and run by the American Society of Civil Engineers is a half-baked farce that may already have been commandeered by political forces whose primary interests, to put it mildly, lie far afield of full disclosure. . .
As things now stand and if they continue in such fashion, the investigation into the
The builders and owners of the World Trade Center property, the Port Authority of New York-New Jersey, a governmental agency that operates in an accountability vacuum beyond the reach of local fire and building codes, has denied charges that the buildings' fire protection or construction components were substandard but has refused to cooperate with requests for documentation supporting its contentions . . .
Clearly, there are burning questions that need answers. Based on the incident's magnitude alone, a full-throttle, fully resourced, forensic investigation is imperative. More important, from a moral standpoint, for the safety of present and future generations who live and work in tall buildings-and for firefighters, always first in and last out-the lessons about the buildings' design and behavior in this extraordinary event must be learned and applied in the real world. To treat the September 11 incident any differently would be the height of stupidity and ignorance. The destruction and removal of evidence must stop immediately. The federal government must scrap the current setup and commission a fully resourced blue ribbon panel to conduct a clean and thorough investigation of the fire and collapse, leaving no stones unturned.
Jim Malott is a
In the November/December 2001 issue of Designer/Builder, Mallot gives a deeply disturbing interview to Kingsley Hammet who writes:
 Prior to the advent of the
As Malott watched the tragedy unfold, he surmised that the sequence of events went something like this. when the planes slammed into the exterior of the buildings, the fuselages and engines broke through a number of the outside columns while the wings disintegrated as though being forced through a cheese grater. The bodies of the planes crashed across the unobstructed floors, smashed into the central cores of the buildings, and blew the sheetrock off the supporting columns and from around the stairwells, completely destroying the elevator shaft wails.
Thus, in the first seconds, the four-hour-rated fireproofing was stripped from the steel core structures and with it went all hope that the buildings could survive a fire. "After an hour of this inferno, the now-naked steel columns of the central core at the impact floors were heated to about 1,600 degrees, which is the point at which steel loses almost all of its structural strength. The relatively skimpy floor system, with hung sheetrock, small-diameter steel bar joists, and the thin layer of concrete, offered little barrier to the raging flames despite having been rated as fire-resistant for four hours. Three floors may have collapsed within the impact area, further tearing fireproofing away from the core columns.
Once the first couple of core columns began to buckle, Malott speculates, they threw all of their load not onto a neighboring ring of strong columns protected with fireproofing (which in this design did not exist), but onto the adjacent columns in the exposed core, which were similarly denuded of fireproofing by the initial impact and also were failing under the intense heat. 'The outside of the building did not fail. It did not get hot enough,' Malott says. 'It was the core that failed.'
It's time now to go back and rethink the entire concept of the high-rise structural system, Malott says. Buildings such as the
Ever since the World Trade Center became the global icon of capitalism, most high-rise buildings in America have followed its lead and wrapped their steel columns in some combination of mineral wool and gypsum board rather than concrete, leaving them susceptible to potentially devastating pancake failure not in four hours, for which they are theoretically fire rated, but in less than an hour . . . It's interesting to note that while the enormous bomb that exploded in the parking garage of the World Trade Center in 1993 killed six people, injured almost 1,000, caused a massive fuel fire, and collapsed two garage floors, it did relatively little structural damage to the tower because the basement columns were encased in concrete . . .
A building of this scale, in Malott's opinion, should never have been built in this way. The best proof is what happened to the 102-story
Christine Haughney Washington Post June 2002 - Fireproofing failures -- rather the impact of the plane crashes -- probably caused the
"There needs to be a change in the way buildings are inspected," said Roger G. Morse, an architect who specializes in forensic investigations of building disasters and has studied the World Trade Center. Typically, he said, inspectors examine fireproofing before construction is completed, and the work is often damaged in the final construction. In the case of the
"The situation at the
Heating, Piping, Air-Conditioning Engineering Magazine - Steel loses 30 percent of its strength at 1000 F and 80 percent of its strength at 1400 F. These are temperatures that can be reached within 5 min. on unprotected steel in a standard fire. Steel collapse in a fire is impossible to predict and often occurs instantaneously
Retired Deputy Fire Chief Vincent Dunn - After the 767 jet liner crashed into the world trade center building creating the worst terror attack in history, a fire burned for 56 minutes inside the
The most noticeable change in the modern high-rise construction is a trend to using more steel and shaping lightweight steel into tubes, curves, and angles to increase its load bearing capability. The WTC has tubular steel bearing walls, fluted corrugated steel flooring and bent bar steel truss floor supports. To a modern high rise building designer steel framing is economical and concrete is a costly material . . . Architects, designers , and builders all know if you remove concrete from a structure you have a building that weights less. So if you create a lighter building you can use columns, girders and beams of smaller dimensions, or better yet you can use the same size steel framing and build a taller structure . . .
If you reduce the structure's mass you can build cheaper and builder higher. Unfortunately unprotected steel warps, melts, sags and collapses when heated to normal fire temperatures about 1100 to 1200 degrees F. The fire service believes there is a direct relation of fire resistance to mass of structure. The more mass the more fire resistance. The best fire resistive building in
A plane that only weighted 10 tons struck the
Perhaps builders should take a second look at the Empire State Buildings construction. There might be something to learn when they rebuild on ground zero. The empire state building has exterior
Builders hailed the
Architectural Record, Interview With Fire Lieutenant Gregory Gargiso - Our teachings on high-rise structures go like this:
o They are broken down into three major construction groups; lightweight, medium weight and heavyweight and these designations coincide almost directly with groups according to years.
o Almost all the heavyweights were built before 1945, the medium weights from '45 to '68 and the lightweights from '68 to present.
o It's not too far a leap from this to deduce that your heavyweights are your
o Your lightweights are 8 to 10 lbs per cubic foot, and include of course the
o The middleweights are a bit more elusive, maybe because this group to me are the least aesthetically pleasing. They are 10 to 20 pounds per cubic foot. The Pan Am Building (or Met Life as it is now),
Why then? Because they perform under stress. You see, we are interested in results. It's all fine and well that a particular partition is supposed last against a fire X amount of hours in a controlled laboratory test, or that a curtain wall is not supposed to allow fire to pass from one floor of a high-rise to the next. But in the organized chaos of firefighting, the knuckle dragging grunt work, the 100 or more variables thrown into the mix, the controlled yelling to orchestrate men into action against the Red Devil, the race against time, the sheer physical logistics, they don't usually do what they were designed to do . . .
Stairwells protected by concrete and steel instead of sheetrock would have resulted in lower casualities at the WTC. Walls were obliterated and doorjambs jammed as the building settled into its death throes, barring escape for many. What if power remained on and the elevators stayed operational? High-rise buildings in
Intl Network For Traditional Building, Architecture & Urbanism - A series of unrelated design assumptions about structure, fire proofing and escape - some dating from the 1920s - exacerbated the World Trade Centre collapse, it was claimed. Giving evidence on 6 March to the US House of Representatives Committee on Science, Dr Arden L. Bement, Jr, Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology of the US Department of Commerce, explained some of the issues which NIST would examine if commissioned to undertake a
[INTBAU is a British organization under the patronage of the Prince of Wales]
John Seabrook, New Yorker - The second generation of tall buildings, which includes the
As the new high-rises sprouted, some New York City firefighters began to point out that the same innovations that make these buildings more economical to erect and more pleasant to inhabit also make them more vulnerable to fire. In 1976, the New York City Fire Commissioner, John O'Hagan, published a book entitled "High Rise Fire and Life Safety," in which he called attention to the serious fire-safety issues in most high-rise buildings constructed since 1970, referring to such buildings as "semi-combustible." Unlike the earlier generation of skyscrapers, which used concrete and masonry to protect the structural steel, many of the newer buildings employed sheetrock and spray-on fire protection. The spray-on protection generally consisted of either a cement-like material that resembles plaster or a mineral-fiber spray, such as the one used to protect the floor joists in the
O'Hagan pointed out that, even when these spray-ons are properly mixed and applied to the steel (which must be clean), they are much less dense than concrete and can be easily knocked off. The swaying of the cables in the elevator shafts has been known to dislodge the fire protection from the columns in the cores of these buildings, and the coating used on floor supports is often removed by workers who install the ducts and wiring inside the hollow floor. The questionable performance of the fire protection used in these buildings, combined with the greater expanse of lightweight, unsupported floors, O'Hagan said, created the potential for collapse, of the individual floors and of the entire structure. He also pointed out that the open spaces favored by modern developers allowed fires to spread faster than the compartmentalized spaces of the earlier buildings, and that the synthetic furnishings in modern buildings created more heat and smoke than materials made out of wood and natural fibers.
O'Hagan's book did nothing to stop semi-combustible buildings from going up-a fireman's predictable lament about safety was not what a city in love with its skyscrapers wanted to hear. It was not until September 11th that the architects and builders of tall buildings began to think seriously about whether the modern methods of constructing high-rises needed to be revised. One indication that older high-rise buildings may be more fire-resistant than the newer high-rise buildings is the performance of the twenty-three-story building at 90 West Street-a Cass Gilbert-designed building, finished in 1907 (Gilbert also designed the Woolworth Building), whose structure was protected by concrete and masonry-compared with the performance of 7 World Trade, an all-steel building, from the nineteen-eighties, that had spray-on fire protection. Both buildings were completely gutted by fires on September 11th, but
Ethical Spectacle, 2002 [From an article by three NYC firefighters] - There are many, many questions to be asked by us about the
- Given the typical resources of most fire departments, can we be expected to handle every high-rise fire thrown at us? When was the last time your city manager asked you for a complete list of resources that you need to fight a high-rise fire, including personnel? . . .
- Beware the truss! Frank Brannigan has been admonishing us for years about this topic. It has been reported that the
- Modern sprayed-on steel "fireproofing" did not perform well at the
The largest loss of firefighters ever at one incident . . . The second largest loss of life on American soil . . . The first total collapse of a high-rise during a fire in United States history . . . The largest structural collapse in recorded history. Now, with that understanding, you would think we would have the largest fire investigation in world history. You would be wrong. Instead, we have a series of unconnected and uncoordinated superficial inquiries. No comprehensive "Presidential Blue Ribbon Commission." No top-notch National Transportation Safety Board-like response.
Progressive Review, 2002 - Some serious questions raised by engineers and architects about the quality of the
OBL: (...Inaudible...) We calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy who would be killed based on the position of the tower. We calculated that the floors that would be hit would be three or four floors. I was the most optimistic of them all. (...Inaudible...) due to my experience in this field, I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit and all the floors above it only. This is all that we had hoped for.
NY Times, 2003 - Federal investigators studying the collapse of the twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001, say they now believe that the Port Authority of New York and
The codes are based on tests of each building component in furnaces that subject the structures, and the fireproofing insulation that protects them, to the harsh conditions of a major fire. Investigators, speaking at a news conference near ground zero, said their findings about the fire tests were an important development in their examination of one theory for why the buildings collapsed when and how they did: that the huge fires set by burning jet fuel weakened the lightweight floors of the towers, and that the failure of at least several floors in each building set off a chain reaction culminating in the total collapse of the complex.
The investigators have said that it is unclear whether, even if the tests had been done and the buildings been found to have met standards, the lightweight floor structures, called trusses, and the fluffy fireproofing on them could have been expected to withstand the intense fires of Sept. 11. But the absence of the central tests has robbed the investigators of the ability to even say whether the buildings performed as their designers had specified in their original plans and as the city's codes required of other buildings like them.
Yesterday, independent experts as well as relatives of those who died that day said they were dumbstruck or outraged that such prominent buildings - where fires had occurred more than once and that had been the target of a previous terrorist attack in 1993 - could have been first built and then maintained without such a basic test of its safety having been conducted. . .
Marc S. Moller, a lawyer at Kreindler & Kreindler, which has brought a liability lawsuit against the Port Authority in connection with the 9/11 attack, said at least one of his firm's legal theories could be bolstered by the findings: that fireproofing in the towers was defective and so the buildings were not safe. . .