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LEARNING FROM 9/11UNDERSTANDING
THE COLLAPSE OF THE WORLD TRADE CENTER
COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SEVENTH CONGRESS
MARCH 6, 2002
Serial No. 10746
The following material has been made available on an expedited basis as Volume I of a two-volume set. All additional material for the record will be made available shortly as part of a second, and all inclusive, volume.
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Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.house.gov/science
COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE
HON. SHERWOOD L. BOEHLERT, New York, Chairman
LAMAR S. SMITH, Texas
CONSTANCE A. MORELLA, Maryland
CHRISTOPHER SHAYS, Connecticut
CURT WELDON, Pennsylvania
DANA ROHRABACHER, California
JOE BARTON, Texas
KEN CALVERT, California
NICK SMITH, Michigan
ROSCOE G. BARTLETT, Maryland
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan
DAVE WELDON, Florida
GIL GUTKNECHT, Minnesota
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
GEORGE R. NETHERCUTT, JR., Washington
FRANK D. LUCAS, Oklahoma
GARY G. MILLER, California
JUDY BIGGERT, Illinois
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W. TODD AKIN, Missouri
TIMOTHY V. JOHNSON, Illinois
MIKE PENCE, Indiana
FELIX J. GRUCCI, JR., New York
MELISSA A. HART, Pennsylvania
J. RANDY FORBES, Virginia
RALPH M. HALL, Texas
BART GORDON, Tennessee
JERRY F. COSTELLO, Illinois
JAMES A. BARCIA, Michigan
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
LYNN C. WOOLSEY, California
LYNN N. RIVERS, Michigan
ZOE LOFGREN, California
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
BOB ETHERIDGE, North Carolina
NICK LAMPSON, Texas
JOHN B. LARSON, Connecticut
MARK UDALL, Colorado
DAVID WU, Oregon
ANTHONY D. WEINER, New York
BRIAN BAIRD, Washington
JOSEPH M. HOEFFEL, Pennsylvania
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JIM MATHESON, Utah
STEVE ISRAEL, New York
DENNIS MOORE, Kansas
MICHAEL M. HONDA, California
C O N T E N T S
March 6, 2002
Statement by Representative Sherwood L. Boehlert, Chairman, Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives
Statement by Representative Anthony D. Weiner, Member, Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives
Statement by Representative Ralph M. Hall, Minority Ranking Member, Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives
Statement by Representative Steve Israel, Member, Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives
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Statement by Representative Felix J. Grucci, Jr., Member, Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives
Prepared Statement by Representative Constance Morella, Member, Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives
Prepared Statement by Representative Nick Smith, Member, Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives
Prepared Statement by Representative J. Randy Forbes, Member, Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives
Prepared Statement by Representative Jerry F. Costello, Member, Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives
Prepared Statement by Representative John B. Larson, Member, Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives
Prepared Statement by Representative Bob Etheridge, Member, Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives
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Mr. Robert F. Shea, Acting Administrator, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency
Dr. W. Gene Corley, Senior Vice President, CTL Engineering
Professor Glenn P. Corbett, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Dr. Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl, Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley
Dr. Arden L. Bement, Jr., Director, National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce
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Appendix 1: Additional Material for the Record
Letter to Mr. Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr., Director, Office of Management and Budget from Mr. Boehlert, Mr. Weiner, Mr. Israel, and other Members of the Committee on Science
Statement of the Skyscraper Safety Campaign
Statement of the International Code Council
Letters expressing support for, and cooperation in, a NIST investigation from FEMA and local authorities
LEARNING FROM 9/11UNDERSTANDING THE COLLAPSE OF THE WORLD TRADE CENTER
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6, 2002
House of Representatives,
Committee on Science,
The Committee met, pursuant to call, at 12:23 p.m., in Room 2318 of the Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Sherwood L. Boehlert (Chairman of the Committee) presiding.
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COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Learning from 9/11Understanding
the Collapse of the World Trade Center
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6, 2002
12:00 P.M.2:00 P.M.
2318 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING
On Wednesday, March 6, at noon the House Committee on Science will hold a hearing on the investigation into the collapse of the World Trade Center (WTC). Witnesses from industry, academia, and government will testify on the catastrophic collapse of the WTC complex and subsequent efforts by federal agencies and independent researchers to understand how the building structures failed and why. By scrutinizing the steel and other debris, blueprints and other documents, and recorded images of the disaster, engineers, designers, and construction professionals may learn valuable lessons that could save thousands of lives in the event of future catastrophes, natural or otherwise.
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The Committee plans to explore several overarching questions raised by the collapse and the ensuing investigation:
1. What have we learned about how the Federal Government investigates catastrophic building collapses, and are any changes warranted?
2. What have we learned about the collapse of the World Trade Center, including which structural elements failed first, and why?
3. How will we know what changes, if any, are warranted in building and fire codes as a result of lessons learned from the World Trade Center's collapse?
4. Has the World Trade Center disaster exposed any gaps in our understanding of buildings and fire, and are changes needed in the Federal Government's research agenda?
At 8:47 a.m. on the morning of September 11, 2001, terrorists crashed a fuel-laden Boeing 767 into the north tower (Tower 1) of the World Trade Center (WTC) complex. Approximately 16 minutes later, a second Boeing 767 slammed into the south tower (Tower 2), exploding upon impact and engulfing several of the building's upper floors in flames. While the performance of both towers exceeded their design specificationsthe buildings were designed to withstand the force from the initial impact of a 707 jetthe subsequent structural and fire damage still caused the buildings to fall. Tower 2 collapsed in less than an hour, killing victims trapped above the flames and rescue workers in and around the building. Thirty minutes later, Tower 1 met the same fate. While more than 25,000 people were successfully evacuated from the towers, nearly 3,000 people and emergency responders were killed in the collapses. As the day progressed, the remaining WTC buildings collapsed as well, including Building 7, which burned for 8 hours before crumbling to the ground. Fortunately, the later building collapses produced no casualties.
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In the wake of the collapses, search and rescue workers launched an around-the-clock recovery effort to find and recover survivors and victims who perished. To make way, literally tons of twisted steel and fractured concrete were removed from the rubble pile and loaded onto convoys of bulldozers and flatbed trucks to be carried away to recycling plants and landfills.
Researchers also began to respond immediately. Among the first were National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded social scientists and engineers who arrived at the WTC site within 48 to 72 hours after the tragedy to begin collecting data. Similarly, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) formed a Disaster Response Team within hours of the first plane strike. On September 12th, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its contractor, Greenhorne and O'Mara, Inc., located in Greenbelt, Maryland, commenced the development of a Building Performance Assessment Team (BPAT; explained more fully on the next page) to conduct a formal analysis of the progressive collapses and produce a report of its findings. A variety of other engineering researchers and professionals, including members of the Structural Engineering Association of New York, also engaged in the monumental task of collecting data that could lead to a better understanding of the collapse of the buildings themselves and to the development of mitigation strategies to prevent a similar tragedy in the future.
Concerns Related to the Engineering Investigation
Though many of the individuals who have participated in the WTC building performance investigation are architects and engineers with experience investigating other structural collapsesincluding those resulting from natural causes as well as terrorist attacksnothing had prepared these investigators for a disaster of this magnitude and complexity. Unlike the destruction caused by an earthquake, which may affect several buildings across an expansive area, this disaster involved many buildings and a massive debris pile in a small, confined area. Also unlike most earthquakes, the WTC disaster caused significant casualties and prompted a prolonged search and rescue effort. In addition, the concurrent criminal investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a separate investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board further frustrated the building performance investigators.
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The investigation has been hampered by a number of issues, including:
No clear authority and the absence of an effective protocol for how the building performance investigators should conduct and coordinate their investigation with the concurrent search and rescue efforts, as well as any criminal investigation: Early confusion over who was in charge of the site and the lack of authority of investigators to impound pieces of steel for examination before they were recycled led to the loss of important pieces of evidence that were destroyed early during the search and rescue effort. In addition, a delay in the deployment of FEMA's BPAT team may have compounded the lack of access to valuable data and artifacts.
Difficulty obtaining documents essential to the investigation, including blueprints, design drawings, and maintenance records: The building owners, designers and insurers, prevented independent researchers from gaining accessand delayed the BPAT team in gaining accessto pertinent building documents largely because of liability concerns. The documents are necessary to validate physical and photographic evidence and to develop computer models that can explain why the buildings failed and how similar failures might be avoided in the future.
Uncertainty as a result of the confidential nature of the BPAT study: The confidential nature of the BPAT study may prevent the timely discovery of potential gaps in the investigation, which may never be filled if important, but ephemeral evidence, such as memories or home videotapes, are lost. The confidentiality agreement that FEMA requires its BPAT members to sign has frustrated the efforts of independent researchers to understand the collapse, who are unsure if their work is complementary to, or duplicative of, that of the BPAT team. In addition, the agreement has prevented the sharing of research results and the ordinary scientific give-and-take that otherwise allows scientists and engineers to winnow ideas and strengthen results.
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Uncertainty as to the strategy for completing the investigation and applying the lessons learned: The BPAT team does not plan, nor does it have sufficient funding, to fully analyze the structural data it collected to determine the reasons for the collapse of the WTC buildings. (Its report is expected to rely largely on audio and video tapes of the event.) Nor does it plan to examine other important issues, such as building evacuation mechanisms. Instead, FEMA has asked the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to take over the investigation. Yet so far, NIST has not released a detailed plan describing how it will take over the investigation, what types of analyses it will conduct, how it will attempt to apply the lessons it learns to try to improve building and fire codes, and how much funding it will require.
Role of the Federal Emergency Management Agency
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is charged with supporting the Nation's emergency management system. FEMA intervenes at all stages of disaster management including preparation, response, recovery, mitigation, risk reduction, and prevention. In the case of the World Trade Center attack, FEMA dispatched Urban Search and Rescue Teams and established a disaster field office at the site within hours of the first strike to assist in New York City's rescue effort. At the same time, the FEMA Building Performance Assessment Team (BPAT) began their important work of initiating an analysis that could ultimately yield valuable information about the sequence of events and failures that resulted in progressive building collapse.
BPATs are routinely deployed by FEMA following disasters caused by events such as floods and hurricanes. The teams are formed by, and operate under the direction of the Mitigation Directorate's Program Assessment and Outreach Division and comprise such individuals as regional FEMA staff, representatives from state and local governments, consultants who are experts in engineering, design, construction, and building codes, and other technical and support personnel. A contractor for FEMA, Greenhorne & O'Mara, Inc., maintains a roster of hundreds of mitigation specialists from across the United States. BPAT teams are typically deployed within seven days of any disaster event.
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Generally, a BPAT conducts field inspections and technical evaluations of buildings to identify design practices, construction methods, and building materials that either failed or were successful in resisting the forces imposed by the event. A major objective of the BPAT's findings and recommendations are aimed at improving design, construction and enforcement of building codes to enhance performance in future disasters. The culmination of the BPAT's efforts is a report that presents the team's observations, conclusions, and recommendations for improving building performance in future natural disasters.
The BPAT team deployed to the WTC site was assembled by the American Society of Civil Engineers and is headed by W. Gene Corley, Ph.D., P.E, Senior Vice President of Construction Technologies Laboratory in Skokie, Illinois. He was also the principal investigator in the FEMA study of Oklahoma City's Murrah Federal Office Building. On September 11th, ASCE, in partnership with a number of other professional organizations, commenced the formation of an independent team of experts to conduct a building performance assessment study at the WTC site as part of ASCE's Disaster Response Procedure. In late September, this team, the ASCE Disaster Response team, was officially appointed as the BPAT team and was funded by FEMA to assess the performance of the buildings and report its findings. The BPAT team received $600,000 in FEMA funding in addition to approximately $500,000 in ASCE in-kind contributions.
The 23-member BPAT team conducted an analysis of the wreckage on-site, at Fresh Kills Landfill and at the recycling yard from October 712, 2001, during which the team extracted samples from the scrap materials and subjected them to laboratory analysis. Why the analysis was conducted only after a delay of three weeks after the attacks remains unclear. Since November, members of the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY) have volunteered to work on the BPAT team's behalf and are visiting recycling yards and landfills two to three times a week to watch for pieces of scrap that may provide important clues with regard to the behavior of the buildings.
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In the month that lapsed between the terrorist attacks and the deployment of the BPAT team, a significant amount of steel debrisincluding most of the steel from the upper floorswas removed from the rubble pile, cut into smaller sections, and either melted at the recycling plant or shipped out of the U.S. Some of the critical pieces of steelincluding the suspension trusses from the top of the towers and the internal support columnswere gone before the first BPAT team member ever reached the site. Fortunately, an NSF-funded independent researcher, recognizing that valuable evidence was being destroyed, attempted to intervene with the City of New York to save the valuable artifacts, but the city was unwilling to suspend the recycling contract. Ultimately, the researcher appealed directly to the recycling plant, which agreed to provide the researcher, and ultimately the ASCE team and the SEAoNY volunteers, access to the remaining steel and a storage area where they could temporarily store important artifacts for additional analysis. Despite this agreement, however, many pieces of steel still managed to escape inspection.
The BPAT team is expected to release its report in April. Because FEMA requires the members of its BPAT team to sign a confidentiality agreement until the report is released, the exact scope of the report is unknown. But it appears from the role that BPAT teams normally play and general comments ASCE members of the BPAT team have made that the report is likely to include an examination of how the buildings behaved leading up to the collapse, hypotheses for which structural elements failed and thereby initiated the collapse, and recommendations for additional research and analysis.
For example, ASCE has said that the study will rely primarily on audio and video recordings, interviews with survivors, blueprints and design drawings of the World Trade Center, and evidence they or the SEAoNY volunteers have collected from the rubble. The BPAT team has access to more than 120 hours of high quality film footage and audiotapes of 911 communications with trapped victims. The BPAT team initially had difficulty in obtaining building blueprints and design drawings from either the City of New York, the Port Authority, the building owners, or the building designers due primarily to liability concerns on the part of the building owners and insurers. Belatedly, however, the team was provided access to these documents in early January.
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ASCE has said that the BPAT study will not include an analysis of the evacuation or rescue procedures and may not be able to validate definitively any of a number of hypotheses regarding the collapse. But because of the confidentiality of the report, it is unclear whether the it will provide answers or simply lay out more questions. It is unknown, for example, to what degree the BPAT report will compare video evidence with that collected from the steel beams from the floors that were hit by the planes.
As a result, independent researchers are unsure how they can contribute to the understanding of how the buildings fell without unnecessarily duplicating work. Others fear that the BPAT's silence on the scope of its report may allow critical aspects of the picture to be missed, and that, by the time the report is released and any such gaps are discovered, the trail of evidence that could provide answers may have grown cold.
The National Science Foundation
Researchers supported by the National Science Foundation are used to mobilizing rapidly after an earthquake and arriving on scene soon after the event to begin collecting data. Recognizing the similarities between the WTC disaster and earthquakes, NSF program managers awarded nearly $300,000 to experienced earthquake researchers, including engineers and social scientists, to begin an analysis of the 9/11 terrorist attacks within 72 hours of the events. In an effort to quickly deploy researchers to the site, awards were made through the Small Grants for Exploratory Research Program, a supplemental award program that enables NSF program managers to award additional support to currently-funded investigators through an abbreviated internal review process (see Appendix B for a list of awards).
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The efforts of NSF-funded researchers were impeded by the same obstacles the BPAT team encountered: an inability to examine the steel, either removed from the site during the early search and rescue work or shipped to recycling plants, and the denial of access to building design, construction and maintenance documents. Interestingly, it was an NSF-funded researcher who ultimately negotiated the arrangements by which he and others investigating the disaster were provided access to the remaining pieces of steel at the recycling plant.
To date, the NSF-funded researchers continue to face problems. They continue to be denied access to important building diagrams and blueprints, and so are unable to complete their analyses or develop the computer models necessary to better understand the failure of the buildings structural elements. Perhaps more importantly, without these computer models, engineering researchers will be unable to develop effective mitigation strategies.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology
NISTs Building and Fire Research Laboratory carries out research in fire science, fire safety engineering, and structural, mechanical, and environmental engineering. It is the only federal laboratory dedicated to research on building design and fire safety. In the past, the lab has investigated several structural failures using authority Congress made explicit in 1985 (15 U.S.C. 282a). The goals of its previous investigations were to determine the probable technical causes of the failures, examine what lessons could be learned from those determinations, and help develop improved building codes, standards, and practices. The investigations also identified areas of research that needed further study.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Shortly after the attack, NIST appointed an employee of the Building and Fire Research Laboratory to serve on the 23-member BPAT team. While this partnership lent some of NIST's resources and expertise to the BPAT study, NIST did not immediately launch a formal investigation into the technical causes that led to the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings.
NIST believes that the World Trade Center collapse raises difficult and technical questions regarding building codes and standards, justifying the redirection of funds to its building and fire lab. For example, standards for concrete design, building loads, and structural integrity may need revision. In response, NIST has redirected $2 million of its fiscal year 2002 internal discretionary funds to the lab to supplement its current building engineering and standards work. NIST has also requested permission to reprogram from the rest of its laboratories another $2 million in fiscal year 2002 funds for these efforts. The reprogramming request is currently pending before the Office of Management and Budget and will ultimately need approval from Congress. NIST did not need Congressional review to redirect its discretionary funds.
In January, after a delay of three months since the terrorists' attacks, FEMA asked NIST to take over the next phase of the investigation of the collapse. Yet neither NIST nor FEMA has released details as to what that next phase would entail (other than the general outline NIST has provided below). In addition, the Administration has not yet indicated whether FEMA, NIST, or a supplemental funding request to Congress would provide funds for such an investigation, nor has it identified how much it would cost.
Administration officials and outside parties are weighing whether a formal arrangement should be made for NIST to serve as FEMA's research arm in the event of future catastrophic building failures. Currently, there is no formal relationship between the two agencies regarding these matters.
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Based on some initial planning, NIST has preliminarily identified the following general areas for investigation:
Determine technically, why and how the buildings collapsed (WTC 1 and 2, and possibly WTC 7);
Investigate the technical aspects of fire protection, response, and evacuation, and occupant behavior and response;
Determine whether state-of-the-art procedures were used in the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the WTC building;
Determine whether there are new technologies and procedures emerging that could be employed in the future to reduce the potential risks of collapse; and
Identify building and fire codes, standards, and practices that warrant revision.
Please see Appendix A for copies of letters to witnesses and the questions each was asked to address in testimony at the hearing.
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Mr. Robert Shea, Acting Administrator Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, and, Mr. Craig Wingo, Director of Division of Engineering Science and Technology, Federal Emergency Management Administration
Dr. W. Gene Corley, P.E., S.E., American Society of Civil Engineers, Chair of the Building Performance Assessment Team reviewing the WTC disaster
Professor Glenn Corbett, Assistant Professor of Fire Science at John Jay College, New York City
Dr. Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl, Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley
Dr. Arden Bemet, Director, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Appendix ALetters and Questions to Witnesses
Appendix BNSF Small Grants for Exploratory Research Awards
Appendix CBuilding Design and Collapse Scenarios
Appendix DAdditional Reading
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Learning from 9/11Understanding the Collapse of the World Trade Center
Chairman BOEHLERT. The Committee will come to order. Before proceeding, I ask unanimous consent that Mr. Crowley and Mr. Engel be permitted to sit with the Committee. Without objection, so ordered. I want to welcome everyone to this hearing on a most important, but difficult, subjectthe investigation into the collapse of the World Trade Center.
It is, indeed, a difficult subject because it is, at once, emotionally rending and intellectually complex. And it is also difficult because it forces us to cast a critical eye on the dedicated work of public servants and public-spirited volunteers who are taking action amid chaos brought on by an unforeseen and unprecedented tragedy.
But despite these difficulties and the discomfort they may engender, we felt we needed to put together this hearing. First, we believe that we owe it to the victims and their families to learn everything possible about what happened in those horrifying first hours of September 11not just to satisfy their immediate needs and yearnings, but to ensure that such a catastrophic building failure and the resulting loss of life never happen again.
I must say that the current investigationsome would argue that review is the more appropriate wordseems to be shrouded in excessive secrecy. This has unnecessarily increased the families' anxiety while actually complicating matters. I hope this hearing, by airing the facts of the investigation, will dispel unnecessary concerns while allowing legitimate ones to be pursued more productively.
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But, perhaps, even more important for the Committee, we need to have this hearing because the Trade Center collapse raises questions about Federal responsibilities and Federal policiesresponsibilities and policies that have broader application than this one terrifying, and we pray, unique incident.
The Federal Government, as a matter of course, takes on investigations of catastrophic building failures whatever their cause. That is the only way we, as a Nation, can learn from building failures and change our building and fire codes to prevent future ones. Indeed, the engineering of buildings to withstand earthquake damage has improved markedly as a result of federally supported efforts.
Yet, in this case, the investigation has faced numerous obstacles. Federal agencies did not coordinate sufficiently. Some were slow to react. No organized team was at the site for weeks. Potentially valuable evidence has been irretrievably lost and blueprints were unavailable for months. What this experience clearly points up is that the Federal Government needs to put in place standard investigative protocols and procedures right now so we don't have to reinvent the wheel each time we face a building failure. That is one change in Federal policy that ought to result from the World Trade Center experience.
Another significant lesson of the Trade Center collapse is that we need to understand a lot more about the behavior of skyscrapers and about fire if we are going to prevent future tragedies. All of our witnesses today will call for an expanded Federal research effort into the details of what happened at the World Trade Center and what that means for buildings generally. I wholeheartedly endorse that call. My colleagues and I will have many questions today about the nature and scope and financing of that follow-up effort. But I, for one, think we need to move forward with it.
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We will also do some following up of our own. I expect that the Committee will have a hearing on the report of the current Trade Centerwill have a hearing on the report of the current Trade Center report when it is released in April, and we will obviously continue to oversee the related activities of the agencies in our jurisdiction and we will pursue any Federal issues that merit further review.
So all of us here, I believe, understand that we are undertaking a heavy responsibility today by reviewing the response to the World Trade Center collapse. September 11 is still a fresh wound. But this hearing is not so much about the past as it is about ensuring that we protect lives in the future. We are not here to point fingers, but to ensure that any problems that occurred in the wake of the Trade Center collapse do not hamper future investigations. We are here because the only way to move forward is to try to understand what happened on a day that was so incomprehensible. With that, I yield to Mr. Weiner.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Boehlert follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN SHERWOOD L. BOEHLERT
I want to welcome everyone to this hearing on a most important, but difficult subjectthe investigation into the collapse of the World Trade Center.
It is indeed a difficult subject because it is, at once, emotionally rending and intellectually complex. And it's also difficult because it forces us to cast a critical eye on the dedicated work of public servants and public-spirited volunteers who were taking action amid chaos brought on by an unforeseen and unprecedented tragedy.
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But despite these difficulties and the discomfort they may engender, we felt we needed to put together this hearing. The Committee decided to move forward for two fundamental reasons. First, we believe that we owe it to the victims and their families to learn everything possible about what happened in those horrifying first hours of September 11thnot just to satisfy their immediate needs and yearnings, but to ensure that such a catastrophic building failure, and the resulting loss of life, never happen again.
I must say that the current investigationsome would argue that ''review'' is the more appropriate wordseems to be shrouded in excessive secrecy. This has unnecessarily increased the families' anxiety while actually complicating matters. I hope this hearing, by airing the facts of the investigation, will dispel unnecessary concerns while allowing legitimate ones to be pursued more productively.
But perhaps even more important for the Committee, we need to have this hearing because the Trade Center collapse raises questions about federal responsibilities and federal policiesresponsibilities and policies that have broader application than this one terrifyingand, we pray, uniqueincident.
The Federal Government, as a matter of course, takes on investigations of catastrophic building failures, whatever their cause. That's the only way we, as a nation, can learn from building failures and change our building and fire codes to prevent future ones. Indeed, the engineering of buildings to withstand earthquake damage has improved markedly as a result of federally supported efforts.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Yet in this case, the investigation has faced numerous obstacles. Federal agencies did not coordinate sufficiently, some were slow to react; no organized team was at the site for weeks; potentially valuable evidence has been lost irretrievably, and blueprints were unavailable for months. What this experience clearly points up is that the Federal Government needs to put in place standard investigative protocols and procedures right now, so we don't have to ''reinvent the wheel'' each time we face a building failure. That's one change in federal policy that ought to result from the World Trade Center experience.
Another significant lesson of the Trade Center collapse is that we need to understand a lot more about the behavior of skyscrapers and about fire, if we are going to prevent future tragedies. All of our witnesses today will call for an expanded federal research effort into the details of what happened at the World Trade Center and what that means for buildings generally. I wholeheartedly endorse that call. My colleagues and I will have many questions today about the nature, scope and financing of that follow-up effort, but I, for one, think we need to move forward with it.
We'll also do some of our own following up. I expect that the Committee will have a hearing on the report of the current Trade Center report when it is released in April, and we'll obviously continue to oversee the related activities of the agencies in our jurisdiction, and we'll pursue any federal issues that merit further review.
So, all of us here, I believe, understand that we are undertaking a heavy responsibility today by reviewing the response to the World Trade Center collapse. September 11th is still a fresh wound. But this hearing is not so much about the past, as it is about ensuring that we protect lives in the future. We are not here to point fingers, but to ensure that any problems that occurred in the wake of the Trade Center collapse do not hamper future investigations. We are here because the only way to move forward is to try to understand what happened on a day that was so incomprehensible.
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Mr. WEINER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And, first, let me begin by expressing my thanks to you. While some of our committees have been slow to take up the challenge of the post-September 11 analysis and legislative action, you have been a true leader in getting the Science Committee involved.
On November 12, I, and my constituents, had the misfortuneand hundreds of families were ravaged by the crash of Flight 586. Within literally moments of that plane crash, the National Transportation Safety Board was on the ground sequestering evidence, interviewing witnesses, subpoenaing information, if necessary. And since then, they have offered periodic reports.
One month and a day earlier, when the World Trade Center collapsed, nothing could have been further from the truth. According to reports that we have heard since, there has been no comprehensive investigation. One expert in fire engineering concluded that there was virtually a nonexistent investigation. We haven't examined any aspects of the collapse that might have impacted rescue worker procedures even in this last month.
Second, reports have emerged that crucial evidence has been mishandled. Over 80 percent of the steel from the World Trade Center site has already been sold for recycling, much of it, if not all of it, before investigators and scientists could analyze the information.
Third, we have allowed this investigation to become woefully bogged down and in fighting and lack of cooperation among agencies. Researchers from FEMA did not get timely access to the designs of the building. News accounts have said there has been friction between engineers in FEMA because of concerns about where the information would wind up.
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Even the National Science Foundation, which has awarded grants to several scientists to study the collapse, but didn't coordinate these efforts with FEMA or the American Society of Civil Engineers.
And, finally, we have seen painfully that the financial commitment to this investigation simply is not there. It is not uncommon to spend tens of millions of dollars investigating why a plane crashed. But we have yet to spend even a million dollars on this investigation, and the Bush Administration has refused to commit to release the full funding necessary.
But what difference does it make, some might ask? Who could have foreseen such a catastrophic event? Well, the same could be said, frankly, any time a plane crashes. Yet every time we learn about why one plane crashed, we save future people from being victims as well. We could learn what firefighters should know before they go into buildings. We should learn what families, like Vincent and Domencia Ragusa, who are from my district, who lost their son, a firefighter who went into that building unaware, as I am sure many of us, as we were, that those buildings were about to go down.
We can learn about future design of buildings. And, perhaps, as importantly, we might be able to revisit buildings that are currently standing and learn ways to make their occupants and firefighters safer. That is why I am going to be introducing legislation to give the National Institutes of Standards and Technology similar line authorities that the National Transportation Safety Board has. Whether it is a plane crash or a building collapse, we must get to the truth. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, Mr. Weiner. Mr. Hall.
Mr. HALL. Mr. Chairman, I will be brief because there are others who ought to speak, but I certainly join you and others here in our appreciation of those that are here. And Mr. Shea who is here representing Joe Allbaugh, who, I think, does a wonderful job for this country and a wonderful job for the President. And there is much
Chairman BOEHLERT. As does Mr. Shea, a very long and distinguished career.
Mr. HALL. Yes. And there is much more to be done. I think it is more important for Anthony Weiner to be the spokesman here, and for Steve Israel, because they are sensible, sincere, caring. And, Sherry, you are the head of this Committee. You are going to see that New York gets that thatnot as much as they are entitled to, but everything that we can do within our reach. And Mr. Grucci is doing a good job for his state.
I am just honored to be associated with these men and with the words Mr. Weiner has just spoken. It is a horrible time. It is a terrible time. We are battling an enemy with no Navy, no Marine Corps, no Army, no boundary lines. We don't know where they are. And I think it is a sorry, sad war, and it is a war nobody is going to come out the winner. We just have to hang together though. And, as a Democrat, I urge everybody to support the President. He is the Commander in Chief. We are at war. We are a Nation at war and we ought to be closer together than we are today.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 I don't agree with everything anybody does, says, or thinks. I have my own mind. The day they struck those two buildings up there, I became a New Yorker. I am a New Yorker, and I appreciate every one of you and, God bless all of you. I want to yield whatever time I have left to Steve Israel, who has some words that need to be said. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Hall follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE RALPH M. HALL
I want to join Chairman Boehlert in welcoming everyone to this afternoon's hearing.
Today's hearing will focus on the aftermath of the cowardly attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which will rank as one of the great tragedies in American history. As with any tragedy we try to find some shred of consolation by looking to lessons that can help protect us against possible future tragedies. We need to carefully examine our emergency preparedness, evacuation procedures, and emergency response as well as the structural integrity of tall buildings as we sift through the events of September 11 in our search for meaning.
Today we will focus on the procedures and efforts to collect data at the World Trade Center site. I want to learn how we about the problems encountered by the structural assessment team and what changes need to be made to our procedures. I understand that we need to improve the coordination between all the Federal, state, and local agencies that were on-site. Important information was lost during the first month and we need to ensure this doesn't happen again. I also believe that NIST needs to play a more active role in the follow-up assessment and research that is required. NIST should serve as a pro-active liaison to the building code community to ensure that findings of the structural analysis in this case are reflected in our building codes.
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I would like to thank the members of the FEMA Building Performance Assessment Team assembled by the American Society of Civil Engineers. These distinguished professionals have volunteered their time to work on this team. Volunteers from the Structural Engineers Association of New York have also assisted them. This isn't the first time a group of professionals have volunteered their time and expertise to serve on a FEMA assessment team. However, this is one of the few opportunities we have had to publicly thank them for their services. The FEMA team's report isn't due until April and their work is ongoing. It may be that the Committee has questions the witnesses don't feel ready to answerI hope that we will keep at this issue so that we get answers as they become available. It is particularly important that we do follow-up work on any recommendations that the FEMA team offers. I hope this Committee will hold subsequent hearings to review the implementation plans for the research and analysis phase.
I would like to offer my condolences to the families of the victims of this tragedy, some of whom are at this hearing. You have suffered a terrible loss. This Committee will continue to follow the issue of disaster response and building safety to ensure that the lessons learned form the World Trade Center Disaster will be implemented to improve building safety codes, emergency response and evacuation procedures.
Chairman BOEHLERT. The Chair recognizes Mr. Israel for three minutes and 20 seconds.
Mr. ISRAEL. I thank the Chairman and I thank Ranking Member Hall for the time. And let me join with all of my colleagues in extending condolences to all of the families who suffered devastating losses, who have assembled with us today.
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I represent in my district over 100 families who lost someone in the rubble of the World Trade Center. In the days after September 11, they wanted to know why our national intelligence and why our airport security wasn't strong enough to withstand an attack. And now, they are asking whether our steel was strong enough to withstand an attack, whether our building codes, our fire codes, our safety codes were strong enough to withstand the attack.
They want to know what we have learned from the collapse of the World Trade Center, what we learned from the collapse of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City. They want to know whether older buildings, buildings far older than the World Trade Center and the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, have the steel and the safety codes that are necessary to withstand the same kind of catastrophic attacks that occurred at the World Trade Center.
Since September 11, we have responded to the assault on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in many ways. Militarily, we have eviscerated al-Qaeda and the Taliban. We have started to revamp our airport security systems. We have passed a comprehensive Bioterrorism Act. And, even on Capitol Hill, as we came to this Committee hearing from voting on the Floor, we saw all sorts of new steel barricades and shatterproof glass that had been erected to protect Members of Congress.
But we are still asking our police and our fire, our rescue and our emergency services personnel around the country to risk their lives, rushing into buildings without really knowing what they need to know about the construction, the integrity, and the technical conditions that exist in those buildings. We need to know what could be done to make our buildings more structurally sound, what can be done to control intense fires caused by airplanes or bombs, what new precautions should be taken to minimize the weakening of steel, even under the most catastrophic conditions.
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Mr. Chairman, I went, with many of my colleagues, to the wreckage of the World Trade Center only days after the attack with our President. We have an obligation to those who were lost in that rubble, and we have an obligation to everyone who walks into a skyscraper around our country to get some answers, and to get some answers today, and, even more vital, to act on what we learned. Protecting our buildings is just as important a homeland security and economic security issue as flying F-16s over Washington and New York.
I want to thank the Chairman for convening this hearing. I intend to work with the Chairman on a bipartisan basis to make sure that we are allocating the resources and the dollars necessary to study what happened on September 11 and to ensure that it never happens again. And I yield back the balance of my time, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Israel follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE STEVE ISRAEL
Thank you Ranking Member Hall, and Mr. Chairman. I represent over 100 families who lost someone in the rubble of the World Trade Center.
In the days after September 11th, they wanted to know why our national intelligence and airport security wasn't strong enough to withstand the attack?
Now, they're asking whether building, fire and safety codes were strong enough to withstand the attack? They want to know whether we learned anything from the collapse of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City? Or, did bureaucracies simply file a report on some shelf, only to be opened in the scrutiny of September 11th? They want to know whether the Empire State Building or the Chrysler Building could have the same conditions that led to the catastrophe at the World Trade Center?
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Since September 11th, we've responded to the assault on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in many ways.
Militarily, we've eviscerated al Qaeda and we're pinpointing them even this week. . .we've replaced the Taliban theocracy with a secular interim government that will lead Afghanistan to democracy. . .we've started to revamp our airport security system. We passed a comprehensive bioterrorism act.
On Capitol Hill, we've erected steel barricades and shatter proof glass to protect members of Congress. . .but we're still asking our police, fire, rescue and emergency workers around the country to risk their lives, running into buildings without really, knowing what we need to know about the construction, the integrity, the technical, conditions of those buildings.
We need to know what can be done to make our buildings more structurally sound? What can be done to control intense fires caused by airplanes or bombs? What new precautions should be taken to minimize the weakening of steel even under the most catastrophic conditions?
Mr. Chairman, I went to the wreckage of the World Trade Center with President Bush a few days after the attack. We have an obligation to those lost in that rubble. . .and to everyone who enters a skyscraper in this new age of terrorist warnings. . .to shine some light, to get some answers, and even more vital, to act on what we have learned. Protecting our buildings is just as important a homeland and economic security issue as flying F16s over New York and Washington.
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That is why I intend to draft a letter with Representative Weiner asking the Office of Management and Budget to allocate the $40 million needed to complete a comprehensive study.
I thank the Chairman and Ranking Member Hall for holding this important hearing, and I look forward to getting answers to all these issues.
Chairman BOEHLERT. The Chair recognizes Mr. Grucci.
Mr. GRUCCI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And let me just start off by saying I associate myself with the remarks being made here today about the need to find out what went wrong, how it went wrong, and how to prevent it from going wrong in the future. You know, the tragedy of September 11 was one that one could never have predicted and never could have fathomed.
The extent to which our Nation was affected may never be completely understood, however, we continue to work together and to try and find the answers we canand that we can muster. My Congressional district is located just 40 miles from Ground Zero. My constituents were some of the first responders, opening up their emergency rooms and volunteering their rescue services to their brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, and all that were trapped in the rubble. Close to 60 of my constituents were lost that fateful day.
American sat with fear and awe, our eyes captivated by the horrific site of the World Trade Center Towers 1 and 2 crumbling to the city streets. These amazing skyscrapers were brought down by the powerful blast of jet airplanes carrying close to 10,000 gallons of jet fuel. The force of these blasts were enough to bring down a hundred stories of steel and concrete.
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As the many brave and caring volunteers continue to clean up the horror and debris in lower Manhattan, Federal investigators continue to attempt to piece together as much information as possible. I am heartened that the Science Committee is taking a closer look at the engineering and structural investigations surrounding the collapse of the World Trade Center.
I look forward to the informative testimony from our expert witnesses to better understand the issues surrounding this tragedy. And I thank you, Mr. Chairman, and the Ranking Member for pulling this meeting together. I think today we will hopefully start to hear some of the answers that will bring closure to some people's minds as to what happened, but in orderand give us the ability to prevent these types of things from happening in the future. And I yield back the remainder of my time, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Grucci follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE FELIX J. GRUCCI, JR.
The tragedy of September 11th was one that no one could predict or even fathom. The extent to which our nation was affected may never be completely understood. However, we continue to work together and find what answers we can muster.
My Congressional district is located just 40 miles from Ground Zero. My constituents were some of the first responders, opening up their emergency rooms and volunteering their rescue services to their brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, and all that were trapped in the rubble. Close to 60 of my constituents lost their lives on that fateful September morning.
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America sat with fear and awe, our eyes captivated by the horrific sight of World Trade Towers 1 and 2 crumbling to the city streets. These amazing skyscrapers were brought down by the powerful blast of jet airplanes carrying close to 10,000 gallons of jet fuel. Just to put that into perspective, if you converted the energy in the Oklahoma City bomb into jet fuel, it would amount to only 51 gallons of jet fuel. The force of these blasts was enough to being down over 100 stories of steel and concrete.
As the many brave and caring volunteers continue to clean up the horror and debris in Lower Manhattan, federal investigators continue to attempt to piece together as much information as possible.
I am heartened that the Science Committee is taking a closer look at the engineering and structural investigations surrounding the collapse of the World Trade Center. I look forward to the informative testimony from our expert witnesses to better understand the issues surrounding this tragedy.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, Mr. Grucci. And all members of the Committee will have five days in which to revise and extend their remarks. As is the practice of the Committee, we initially reserve five minutes for each side, Republicans and Democrats, for opening statement. And we ask our colleagues on the Committee to defer any opening statements so that we can get right to the witnesses and the task at hand to learn from their testimony, to probe, and to finally develop something that is responsive and responsible. And so all members will have five legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 I would also point out that because of the extensive interest in this hearing, Room 2325 is an overflow room, and that, too, has a full house. And further, I would like to acknowledge the presence in the audience of a special group of people, the Skyscraper Safety Campaign, which is a project of parents and families of firefighters and World Trade Center victims. And they are here as very interested observers. We want you to know that our hearts and our prayers are with you, but you have every right to expect something more than our good intentions and our prayers. We are determined to go forward from this hearing to develop policy that will be responsive to a clearly identified need for our Nation and its future.
And I ask unanimous consent that everybody be allowed to introduce their statements to the record at this juncture. And without objection, so ordered.
[The prepared statement of Representative Constance Morella follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE CONSTANCE MORELLA
Mr. Chairman, thank you for calling this important hearing. The events of September 11th shocked us all and many are still reeling from the after effects. Much of what was lost can never be made whole, and we will always have more questions than answers. However, it is important to do all we can to understand what happened and to take all reasonable steps to prevent such catastrophes in the future.
The attack on our nation was truly unprecedented, as was our response. We owe a great debt of gratitude to the men and women who risked their lives to respond to the crises, and their heroics will live in our memories for years to come. However, we must not forget to thank the many people who have worked tirelessly since then in the recovery effort and the research into understanding why the towers collapsed. Their work will have important consequences on future actions we take to safeguard the country against a repeat of the disaster. We have a number of these people here today and I want to go on record to thank them for their service to the nation.
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However, despite their efforts, the investigation has not gone smoothly. As with everything of this size and scope, jurisdictional problems have arisen. The unusual nature of the crises has led to difficulties in accessing important records and prevented the timely sharing of information. It is our duty to investigate the causes of these problems and take steps to create the infrastructure needed to deal with events of this nature.
In addition, it is vital that we plan our future course of action. Initial reports on the collapse suggest more questions than answers and additional research is clearly needed. Fortunately, we have an advanced federal laboratory dedicated to research in building design and safety. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is uniquely positioned to conduct extensive investigations into the structural failures of the World Trade Center and suggest appropriate new standards and potential retrofits. In truth, NIST has already played a large and important role in the current investigation, but there is much more that can be done. I know Dr. Bement is here to discuss NIST's plans for the future and I urge my colleagues to listen carefully to his proposals.
We may never understand completely why the World Trade Center came crashing down on that September morning, but that should not prevent us from trying. Research into this disaster is the only way we have any chance of preventing the next one. I thank the panel for taking the time to come to Washington to share their insights and I look forward to their testimony. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Representative Nick Smith follows:]
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 PREPARED STATEMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE NICK SMITH
I would like to thank Chairman Boehlert and Ranking Member Hall for holding this hearing today to examine the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings and the ensuing interagency efforts to respond to the disaster. The Federal Government has considerable experience handling a wide variety of disaster situations. Over the years, we have learned from earthquakes, hurricanes, large building fires, and bombings. All have provided information that has improved our ability to respond to these situations, and we have a sound framework in place for responding to national emergencies. There is no doubt that the efforts of agencies such as FEMA, NSF, and NIST, as well as many organizations outside of the Federal Government, have helped to greatly reduce losses of life and property from these national disasters, even well before the events of September 11th.
For example, the National Science Foundation has funded numerous projects over the years that have quietly helped to save lives in disastrous events. NSF-funded engineering research has brought forth technologies that have improved the ability of buildings to withstand seismic events and large fires. After the October 2001 anthrax attacks, it was NSF funding of sequencing of the anthrax genome that has been of great use in the investigation to find the attackers. At the site of the World Trade Center disaster, NSF-funded robotics expert Robin Murphy used innovative urban rescue robots to intelligently explore tight spaces in search of possible survivors. I think these types of applications that have emerged to help save lives underscore the importance of federally supported fundamental research to our economic and national security. I do not think the value of this basic research can be underestimated.
However, no one could have prepared for, much less predicted, an emergency situation of the magnitude and complexity that occurred on September 11th. The death and destruction caused by the hijacked 767 airliners slamming into the 110-story World Trade Center buildings was previously inconceivable. Immediately after the attacks, a number of government agencies and private organizations appeared on the scene to help in rescue, recovery, and sorting through the chaos. Among them were the FBI, New York Police and Fire Departments, FEMA, NIST, NSF, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY).
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Recognizing that the World Trade Center cleanup was an unprecedented, multi-faceted effort carried out under the most difficult of circumstances, I believe that the agencies and organizations involved performed very admirably. There are, however, many questions remaining regarding why the towers collapsed and how the ensuing investigation to determine why they collapsed could have been improved. For instance, why was important information such as building design plans was by and large unavailable, and why was research access to steel beams and other debris for the investigation delayed? Answering these questions may allow us to develop a clearer, enhanced protocol for responding to these situations, improve building and fire codes, and build safer buildings in general. All of these adjustments will move us closer to the ultimate goal: minimizing the loss of life and property during the occurrence of future natural disasters and terrorist attacks.
I hope that today's hearing will help to shed light on these unanswered questions. I would like to thank the witnesses for appearing before us today to discuss this issue, and I am looking forward to a productive discussion as we begin to move on in the aftermath of September 11th.
[The prepared statement of Representative J. Randy Forbes follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE J. RANDY FORBES
Thank you Mr. Chairman, and Ranking Member Hall, for holding this important hearing today. Next Monday will mark the six-month anniversary of the tragic attacks on the World Trade Center Towers and the Pentagon. Since that time, we have come together as a nation and as a Congress.
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The impact of 9/11 has required all of us in Congress to re-evaluate not only how we view the world, but how we ensure the safety of our citizens as well. I can think of no greater obligation of the Federal Government than to protect its citizens. Since 9/11, Congress has responded by passing legislation to protect our borders, increase our ability to defend and respond to attacks of bio-terrorism, and strengthen our airport security and airline industry. Clearly we are a safer nation than we were six months ago. With that said, one area Congress has yet to examine closely is how the Federal Government investigates and responds to large-scale disasters. What can engineers, builders, and designers learn from the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers that can be used to save lives through improved building construction?
I am concerned that no clear protocol was in place for building investigators who were attempting to understand how the two buildings collapsed. While I understand that Ground Zero is first and foremost a crime scene and rescue area, we must also allow investigators the ability to fully examine evidence that will give us a greater understanding of why the buildings collapsed. I was disappointed to learn that investigators were unable to examine recovered pieces of steel from the Twin Towers before they were recycled. I am also troubled that investigators had difficulty in obtaining blueprints, design drawings, and maintenance records because of liability concerns from the buildings' owners. These records are invaluable in fully understanding how the buildings collapsed.
I hope today's hearing will help us strike a balance between investigating a crime scene and conducting an engineering investigation. While we will never live in a world that will be completely immune from despotic acts of terrorists, we should remain eternally vigil in our efforts to ensure that safety of all Americans. Again, I thank the Chairman for holding this important hearing today and I look forward to hearing from our witnesses.
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[The prepared statement of Representative Jerry F. Costello follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE JERRY F. COSTELLO
Good afternoon. The events of September 11th have had a profound effect on America in many ways. In addition to reevaluating our safety and security, we have been left with many procedural and scientific questions. I want to thank the witnesses for appearing before our committee to discuss the data collection procedures in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks and the follow-up research needed to better understand the structural causes of the building collapse, building evacuation procedures, and possible changes to building codes.
Immediately following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assembled a Building Performance Assessment Team (BPAT) comprised of 23-members. They were charged with determining the structural causes of the World Trade Center collapse, including the collection of steel beams and other structural components. Because of the unprecedented nature of the World Trade Center attacks, nothing had prepared our investigators for a disaster of this magnitude and complexity, involving many buildings and a massive debris pile in a small, confined area. The investigation was also hampered by the one month delay in collecting data from the actual site because of the search and rescue efforts and criminal investigation activities. However, once the BPAT gained access and arrived on-site, the process worked according to procedure resulting in an orderly recovery effort. The FEMA BPAT encountered numerous obstacles during its investigation, including an inability to examine the steel, either removed from the site during the early search and rescue work or shipped to recycling plants, and the denial of access to building design, construction, and maintenance documents. I am particularly interested to know what needs to be changed or improved to allow teams, like BPAT, to do their job.
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In addition, as you are all well aware, coordination among federal agencies is critical for gauging our preparedness and responding to national disasters. The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) also took part in the collection of the World Trade Center site data. NSF gave grants to eight research projects to begin studies of the World Trade Center site to study the social science aspects of the human response, testing new technologies to assess infrastructure damage, and collecting structural engineering data. Although NSF did not coordinate its research with the BPAT, I am interested to know if research done by NSF can be used in the BPAT assessment and if it will factor into the BPAT recommendations. Also, FEMA has initiated discussions with NIST for NIST to take the lead on the follow-on activities recommended by the BPAT. NIST has developed a 4-year follow-on comprehensive research plan and an estimated cost in order to take the lead on research once the FEMA's BPAT issues its report. I want to know the role FEMA's team played in developing this research plan with NIST.
I welcome our witnesses and look forward to their testimony.
[The prepared statement of Representative John B. Larson follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE JOHN B. LARSON
I want to thank the Chairman for convening this important hearing. Before I ask my questions I want to recognize the presence today of the organizers of the Skyscraper Safety Campaign, an effort of Sally Regenhard, whose firefighter son, was killed at the World Trade Center, and which represents over 3,000 members and is endorsed by the major 911 Victim Family groups. In particular I want to welcome Ms. Monica Gabrielle from my home state of Connecticut, who lost her husband, Richard, as a result of the collapse of 2 World Trade Center. My condolences to you and the other members of the Skyscraper Safety Campaign who are here to ensure that we know all we need to know about the structural collapse, the subsequent investigation, and to make sure that any recommendations are followed through and implemented so that we can avoid preventable deaths. I commend and welcome your and your group's efforts.
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In the aftermath of the terrible collapse and the subsequent investigations that followed, several factors have become clear:
1. There was no clear authority or effective protocol for how the building performance investigators should conduct and coordinate their investigation with the concurrent search and rescue efforts, as well as any criminal investigation;
2. There was difficulty obtaining documents essential to the investigation, including blueprints, design drawings, and maintenance records;
3. There is uncertainty as a result of the confidential nature of the Building Performance Assessment Team (BPAT) study; and
4. There is uncertainty as to the strategy for completing the investigation and applying the lessons learned.
Obviously, if we are to prepare adequately to meet the tremendous challenges posed by the potential that another tragedy of this magnitude takes place the issues outlined above need to be cleared up. Yet it is troubling to me that we are not close to meeting that goal. So far the ''facts on the ground'' from what I can gather based on information in the public record are:
The American Society of Civil Engineers team, whose report is due in April, admits they may have lost data due to the decision to recycle the structural steel.
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It isn't known whether the National Science Foundation studies can be incorporated into the ASCE recommendations because there was no coordination between them.
ASCE admits that its investigation is not comprehensive, but that their report will include recommendations on what to do about the issues not addressed in their report.
The Building Performance Assessment Team (BPAT) will recommend that a federal agency needs the authority to have on-site personnel to direct data collection efforts.
BPAT had no legal authority to require the plans be given to them. The BPAT will recommend that subpoena authority be given to some federal agency to allow access to all information/data required for a BPAT investigation (neither FEMA nor NIST wants it, however).
Although NIST has the most expertise of any federal agency in building and fire safety, it has no formal role to play in the follow-on disaster analysis. After a BPAT team releases it preliminary report, there is no formal mechanism to ensure its recommendations are actually implemented.
There is no comprehensive central repository for all information that is gleaned from an investigation of this kind.
If this is all true, then it is clear that as a starting point, Congress needs to accomplish two things:
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 (1) we need to find a way to fund NIST's proposal for a 2-year follow-on comprehensive research plan, which would address building design, structural analysis of the building collapse, emergency response procedures, evacuation procedures and proposed changes to building standards based on research findings; and
(2) we also need to establish mechanisms for following-through on implementation of any recommendations, guidelines or standards that are established as a result of these investigations.
We here in Congress need to make sure we assert our role in making sure this process moves forward and those mechanisms are in place. I am aware of the fact that not all of the answers we need will be available at this hearing and that not all the steps that should be taken to reduce the likelihood that something like this can happen again in the future will be identified at this hearing. This should only be the start to what I believe should be a public and open process which will lead to significant changes in how we provide for the safety of citizens of this country.
[The prepared statement of Representative Bob Etheridge follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE BOB ETHERIDGE
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I commend you for holding this important hearing on an event that effects every American and our nation. I would like to offer my condolences to the families of this tragedy.
This is a very difficult subject. The tragedy that the United States experienced on September 11, 2001 was unparalleled with any prior accident or disaster. The collapse of the World Trade Center towers was the largest structural building disaster in human history. A disaster of such epic proportions demands a full comprehensive, detailed investigation.
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I am struck by the rapidity in which the World Trade Center towers collapsed. Aside from withstanding enormous wind loads, the World Trade Center towers were also constructed to withstand settlement loads. Because the towers were built on six acres of landfill, the foundation of each tower had to extend more than 70 feet below ground level to rest on solid bedrock. Although the towers were in fact designed to withstand being struck by an airplane, they were unable to survive the effects of a direct hit by the two hijacked commercial jetliners and the fires that resulted weakened the infrastructure of the building, collapsing the upper floors and creating too much load for the lower floors to bear. In trying to comprehend how this actual happened, I am compelled to ask if there is any reason to have concern on how other tall buildings are constructed in this Country and the safety of the people occupying them.
While I applaud the FEMA Building Performance Assessment Team and other federal agencies for the service they provided, the investigation clearly shows that a comprehensive plan was not in place for disaster investigations. There is a need to have a comprehensive plan in place to handle large-scale investigations.
Chairman BOEHLERT. We will proceed right to our panel of very distinguished witnesses.
Mr. Robert Shea, Acting Administrator, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration; and, Mr. Craig Wingo, Director of Division of Engineering Science and Technology, from the Federal Emergency Management Administration. Dr. W. Gene Corley, American Society of Civil Engineers, Chair of the Building Performance Assessment Team, which we will constantly refer to as BPAT, reviewing the WTC disaster. Professor Glenn Corbett, Assistant Professor of Fire Science at John Jay College, New York City. Dr. Astaneh, Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California. And Dr. Arden Bement, Director of National Institute of Standards and Technology.
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As the Committee clearly can appreciate, we have a panel of very distinguished witnesses, and we look forward to hearing your testimony. We would appreciate, as is customary, that you try to summarize your statement in five minutes or so. We have all had the advantage of your full statement, which will be in the record at this juncture. And I would imagine that my colleagues have joined me in reading this testimony in preparation for this important hearing. The Chair is not going to be arbitrary. This is too important to let a minute or two interfere with making an important point, but we would appreciate your summarizing your testimony. We have six distinguished witnesses and we have a number of very interested Members of Congress who want to have a dialogue with you. And let me thank you for serving as resources for this Committee. Mr. Shea, you are up first.
STATEMENT OF MR. ROBERT F. SHEA, ACTING ADMINISTRATOR, FEDERAL INSURANCE AND MITIGATION ADMINISTRATION, AND, MR. CRAIG WINGO, DIRECTOR OF DIVISION OF ENGINEERING SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ADMINISTRATION
Mr. SHEA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and the members of the Committee. As you indicated, I am the Acting Administrator of the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration. I am here today because Joe Allbaugh asked me to be here to address this Committee. With me is Craig Wingo, who is my Senior Executive in charge of my Engineering Sciences and Technology Division. Mr. Wingo is also the executive that I hold responsible for the Building Performance Assessment Team activity. I will be making the statement and Mr. Wingo will not at this point.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 I respectfully request that my written testimony be entered into the record and that I be allowed a few minutes to make a few verbal comments. If that meets with the approval of the Chair and the Committee, I will proceed.
FEMA operates under the authority of the Stafford Act to respond to disasters. This is an immensely powerful mechanism. Am I still missing here? Okay.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Pull the microphone closer, if you will so we
Mr. SHEA. I will do that.
Chairman BOEHLERT. We have a crowded room and we want to make certain
Mr. SHEA. Is that better, Mr. Chairman?
Chairman BOEHLERT. That is much better. Thank you.
Mr. SHEA. Okay. This is an immensely powerful mechanism you respond to disasters. Embedded in the Act is our charter that provides supplemental support to the efforts and available resources of state and local government. But clearly recognizing their primacy.
Further, as FEMA operates under the aegis of the Federal Response Plan, the way the Federal Government responds to catastrophic events. Huned from over 30 years of experience, this Plan allows FEMA to coordinate the relief and recovery efforts of the combined assets of the entire Federal Government and state and local governments, but particularly, by relying on existing expertise and capability.
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In a large part, we are doers, but we conduct our business by coordinating. For example, under the Plan, one of the emergency support functions is led by the Corps of Engineers, not by FEMA. Further, in this effort, emergency support function nine became the primary example of our level of effort to provide support. It is called Urban Search and Rescue. Essentially, this is highly trained and equipped local fire forces from across the country. So relying on resources and expertise provides for a very effective response system which is also highly efficient.
In the immediate aftermath of this event, FEMA's singular focus was a search and rescue recovery of victims and, frankly, re-establishing the viability of the New York Fire Department.
Last week, I spent some time with Chief Nick Russo, a 29-year veteran of the Hull, Massachusetts Fire Department. Chief Russo watched the events that day and understood the impact on the New York firefighters. So he gathered six other chiefs from his area and was at Ground Zero within hours. His role was to aid in the restructuring of the incident command and also perform search and rescue. Chief Russo told me that his mission matched exactly that of FEMA.
Further, when it became painfully clear that the operation had shifted to the recovery of the victims, that became the single focus of the federal, state, and local efforts. The efforts to recover victims lasted throughout September and into early October and it still continues. Nonetheless, on September 12, the day afterwards, FEMA and the American Society of Civil Engineers began collaborating on the implementation of a Building Performance Assessment Team. The National Institute of Standards and Technology was a partner in this pursuit.
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The role of the BPAT is two-foldto aid in the recovery process through a rapid assessment in order to incorporate mitigation measures into the rebuilding process, but, frankly, limited in scope, to Stafford Act authoritiesthat is, to the rebuilding process of the affected facilities.
Secondly, though, as we go through that process, to use the products of this effort to influence building practices through changes to building codes. The BPAT, or Building Performance Assessment Team, process does not lend itself to complex, long-term studies and it was never intended to do so.
Because of the limited resources of expertise, FEMA uses the same philosophy as the Federal Response Plan. We look to other authorities and expertise in other Federal agencies for those missions. In this case, the appropriate agency is the National Institute of Standards and Technology. They should conduct the long-term, complex studies that must naturally flow from this initial BPAT effort. In my opinion, appropriate studies of the complex issues presented in this fire and structural collapse, will take years to complete.
Let me also say that I have not seen a draft of the BPAT report. But it is important, in my opinion, as well, to preserve the scientific and technical integrity of this study. Jumping to conclusions will ultimately serve no one well in the end.
At this point, it is my understanding that the conclusions associated with this report have not yet been finalized. Therefore, while I cannot share insights about the causal factors of the collapse of the World Trade Center, from either a fire or structural point of view, I would like to share these observations, which are based on my experience of 25 years.
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In this country, we build buildings to a minimum standard. They are probably the best in the world, but they are, in fact, to a minimum standard. What we learn from this tragedy is probably beyond the current generation of buildings. But we can influence the next generation of buildings. So I believe it would be prudent to carefully pursue our eventual conclusions.
Second, the World Trade Center was a tragedy. And, frankly, it was an anomaly. No one who viewed it that day, including myself, believed that those towers would fall. Our collective thought process for laymen and engineers and firefighters changed that day forever.
While the results are still being analyzed and years of study may lie ahead, I can still make the following general observations associated with these types of buildings. Firefighters in many communities are involved with a building code enforcement process, but this is frankly not universally the case. So we need to think more broadly, as all of us have had to be challenged after the events of September 11.
Not only should fire and structural engineers be involved, but we also need firefighters inspecting buildings during the construction process. And the reason is very straightforward. When experienced firefighters look at the construction process, they can tell you what the failure mechanisms will be if they ever have to go into that building and fight a fire.
Secondly, we need to thoroughly explore and embrace the idea of redundant fire systems or in-place protection systems for high-occupancy vehicles.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Thirdly, there was a failure of firefighter communication systems during the event, and it continued well into the search and rescue efforts. It was literally observed that as the search and rescue efforts were going on, there were handwritten notes being passed in order to effect communications.
Clearly, the issues that I have just outlined need to be addressed in the longer-term research effort. I thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I appreciate the time.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Shea follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF ROBERT F. SHEA
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss FEMA's response to the World Trade Center attacks. My name is Robert Shea, Acting Administrator for the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, and I am here representing Joe Allbaugh, the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
On September 11, 2001, the United States of America was suddenly and savagely attacked by terrorists precipitating the worst disaster in the history of our nation. The tragic loss of life in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers and the destruction at the Pentagon exposed many vulnerabilities to our population and infrastructure within our borders which could be exploited by terrorists and others seeking to harm our country.
Within hours of the terrorist attacks, President Bush had mobilized the Federal government and declared disasters, making Federal support and assistance immediately available to the City and State of New York as well as to the Commonwealth of Virginia. As you know, FEMA helps the nation prepare for, respond to, and reduce the impact of, man-made, natural, and technological hazards including catastrophic events, such as the Alfred P. Murrah Building bombing, the Northridge Earthquake and preparing for Y2K and the Winter Olympics. September 11th was a ''wake up'' call for our nation and the entire world. In the war on terrorism, FEMA has a clear mission: to make certain that the United States of America becomes ''A Nation Prepared.''
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FEMA's role as an emergency responder was tested but we were able to draw upon decades of experience in hundreds of disasters and the solid relationships that we have forged with States and local governments and other Federal agencies. That experience and those relationships were vital during the first days and weeks following September 11th and enabled FEMA to provide the critical support requested by the City and State of New York to local emergency responders and law enforcement officials. This support included the critical urban search and rescue, debris removal, technical assistance and other emergency measures. The U.S. Fire Administration, an integral part of FEMA, has been providing training to firefighters and emergency responders in initial disaster response and incident command and controlskills that were fully evident at ground zero.
Under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, as amended, FEMA has the lead coordination role for Federal disaster response, which is managed through the Federal Response Plan (FRP), involving the 27 Federal agencies, local agencies, and other groups. This national plan, perfected during the last decade, made it possible to effectively support local law enforcement and supplement the response activities undertaken by the City and State of New York. As for the World Trade Center disaster, the City and State of New York drew upon as many assets as they could, both governmental and private, to rescue and protect their citizens. FEMA has acted in its traditional support role, mindful of the extensive capabilities and the sovereignty of the City and State of New York.
The Federal Response Plan establishes a process and structure for the systematic, coordinated, and effective delivery of supplemental assistance to address the consequences of any major disaster or emergency declared by the President. Within hours of the September 11th attacks, the FEMA Emergency Support Team center was up and running and, implementing the 12 Emergency Support Functions (ESF's) described in the FRP, already coordinating and organizing the Urban Search and Rescue teams, and setting up the Disaster Field Office on-site in New York City.
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The most vital Emergency Support Function in response to this tragedy was Urban Search and Rescue (US&R). Because the mortality rate among trapped victims rises dramatically after 72 hours, search and rescue must be initiated without delay. US&R rapidly deploys components of the National US&R Response System to provide specialized lifesaving assistance to State and local authorities in the event of a major disaster or emergency. US&R operational activities include locating, extricating, and providing on-site medical treatment to victims trapped in collapsed structures, and engineering evaluation of structures for safety and building integrity.
A key member of the US&R team is the structural engineer, who must make constant judgments about the structural stability of debris and damaged buildings as the team rescues trapped individuals. As the US&R teams searched through the mountains of twisted steel and concrete, these engineers made safety judgments related to the creation of access points. With engineering expertise coming to New York City from across the country and present within city agencies of New York, the initial response activities were able to pull from an extraordinary pool of local engineering support. During the initial response, engineering support included:
1. Ensuring equipment, such as cranes, was safely located on stable bases to support rescue efforts;
2. Quick and continuing evaluation of the safety of surrounding buildings, infrastructure and the site;
3. Monitoring changes at the site through surveying; and
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4. Remote sensing using satellites, and supporting rescue workers on the site by continually reporting this information at shift briefings, site inspections and visits, and through sophisticated Geographical Information Systems producing up-to-date information and maps.
FEMA's United States Fire Administration also responded to directly assist the New York City Fire Department to re-establish its Incident Command structure, had been tragically lost when the towers collapsed. The forward deployed team assisted in coordinating daily mission planning and logistics for the first three weeks until FDNY was ready to fully resume that role. USFA is also working with the fire department on a training needs analysis to help restore FDNY to its full capacity as it takes on over 400 new firefighters. This, in addition to the US&R, demonstrates FEMA's linkage to the first responders in a catastrophic event.
FEMA's singular goal in the immediate aftermath of the attack was to support local jurisdictions in the rescue of trapped firefighters and workers. As soon as practicable, and without impeding the rescue effort, FEMA began coordinating with State and local governments and private organizations on the next important steps: the short-term and long-term recovery.
FEMA has an established role in recovery: to provide grants to State and local agencies and individuals, as well as coordinating the efforts from other Federal agencies with State, local and charitable organizations in order to help communities and individuals rebuild their lives. Another critical component is the technical assistance that FEMA can bring to bear to not only facilitate a quick recovery but to influence the recovery by giving special consideration to particular aspects of a building or the infrastructure. Although meeting the human needs is paramount, investigating and understanding this enormous and complex disaster can provide benefits for the City of New York's recovery as well as the entire nation.
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FEMA has long been an advocate of conducting engineering studies to learn lessons from disasters, whether man-made or natural. In response to hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and other disasters, including man-made disasters, FEMA often deploys Building Performance Assessment Teams (BPATs) to conduct field investigations at disaster sites. The BPAT is typically employed to determine failure mechanisms of buildings in the aftermath of a disaster so strategies can be developed to increase the disaster-resistance of structures. However, since this event was larger and more complex than any we have ever experienced, the objective of this BPAT is to probe the numerous issues related to structural collapse and fire so that we may make preliminary conclusions and recommendations for more intensive investigation and research.
Immediately following the September 11th attacks, FEMA reached out to the engineering and fire communities to coordinate any post-event studies or evaluations of building performance, incident command, communications or other similar efforts. Within 24 hours, FEMA was in contact with the American Society of Civil Engineers, which was already assembling a team of national experts, drawing talent from a variety of engineering, research and scientific groups that had volunteered to help. This team approach, which is frequently utilized for disasters, has been highly effective for ensuring a multidisciplinary approach with equal voices and inputs from the various sectors. For our World Trade Center evaluation, FEMA and ASCE immediately collaborated on the development of the team analogous to our approach during our study of building performance after the Northridge earthquake. The team of experts was assembled based on what appeared to be the likely failure mechanisms for the World Trade Center towers, namely, fire and structural collapse. There are over twenty national and international experts on this team with knowledge in: building and fire testing; computer modeling of structures and fire; design of tall buildings; steel construction; concrete construction; fire safety; fire protection; and codes and standards. As you know, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has along-established history of investigating building collapses and fires and a mission of research and testing that results in standards and guidance that makes the United States safer and its industries more competitive. FEMA asked NIST to join the BPAT during its formation in September because of NIST's technical expertise and to ensure a smooth transition between FEMA's short-term study and any long-term investigation and research conducted by NIST.
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Because of the importance of the rescue effort at the World Trade Center complex, it was clear that information would have to be gathered without interfering with response and rescue activities. Based on this fact, the FEMAASCE team first visited the site on October 6, but gathered information from others who had been on-site before this date. This information included plans, photographs, videotapes, eyewitness accounts from rescue workers and reports from the New York City Department of Design and Construction. In addition, the Structural Engineers Association of New York, in support of the City and as a formal member of the BPAT, located and identified specimens of steel for use in future studies. FEMA is coordinating with NIST to make sure that these specimens are properly stored and available for future testing. Also, it is important to note that there are, literally, thousands of plans, specifications and other documents for the World Trade Center. Although it took some weeks to obtain the plans, the owners were fully cooperative with our requests.
Focusing on the areas of fire protection and structural performance, the BPAT team has been gathering evidence and studying designs so that when the report is published, its conclusions and recommendations will help guide future investigative and research efforts connected primarily to understanding the performance of buildings when subjected to extreme conditions.
This study represents an important first step in suggesting how the technical resources of the nation can be brought to bear on protection of lives and property. Because of the importance of this initial report, FEMA and ASCE have compressed in half a schedule that normally takes over a year to complete, which will result in the issuance of a report in early spring. The report will not only make preliminary observations and conclusions about the structural and fire related performance of the World Trade Center towers, but will have six additional chapters that discuss damages and lessons learned from surrounding buildings such as World Trade Center 7, as well as numerous technical appendices.
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The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has the authority and technical expertise to conduct investigative studies of the causes of the collapse and other related matters. The USFA and the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration of FEMA will work closely with NIST as it undertakes this ambitious agenda.
USFA will also be looking at the lessons that can be learned from this incident by the nation's first responders. USFA has a long history of doing reports on major incidents and their impacts on the fire service, with a special emphasis on incident command, fire protection systems, evacuation planning and response, communications, and overall fire fighting and rescue response.
Finally, FEMA is currently working with NIST to develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which will help to guide our future collaborations on similar types of studies. For these types of extreme events, whether natural or man-made, the MOU will serve as a road map to establish protocols for future collaboration of our two agencies under our respective authorities.
I would now be pleased to answer any questions that the Committee may have.
BIOGRAPHY FOR ROBERT F. SHEA
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Robert F. Shea was appointed Acting Administrator of the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration in August 2001 after an agency-wide reorganization. Previously, Mr. Shea was deputy administrator for mitigation in FEMA. In his acting capacity, Mr. Shea is responsible for overseeing the insurance and risk reduction activities of FEMA, including educating residents and state and local official about the importance of risk reduction activities. Mr. Shea also coordinates efforts to educate the public on the importance of insuring property against flood damage.
Previously, Mr. Shea served as the Division Director for the Program Support Division within FEMA's then-Mitigation Directorate. In that capacity, he provided executive direction to the Hazard Mitigation Planning Program, the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and the Flood Mitigation Assistance Program.
Mr. Shea has spent 25 years in emergency management in FEMA, serving in various capacities, including chief of the Coordination Office of the former State and Local Program and Support Directorate and chief of the Program Development Division in the former Office of Earthquakes and Natural Hazards.
A native of Atlanta, Ga., Mr. Shea earned Bachelor's and Masters's degrees in English Literature from The Catholic University of America.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you. Mr. Wingo, I assume Mr. Shea speaks for you also. Dr. Corley.
Mr. WINGO. Mr. Chairman, thank you.
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STATEMENT OF DR. W. GENE CORLEY, P.E., S.E., SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, CTL ENGINEERING, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, ON BEHALF OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CIVIL ENGINEERS, CHAIR OF THE BUILDING PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT TEAM REVIEWING THE WTC DISASTER
Dr. CORLEY. Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, and members of the Committee. My name is Gene Corley. I appear before the Committee today on behalf of the American Society of Civil Engineers. In my volunteer capacityat ASCE, I serve as Chair of the Building Performance Assessment Team, which is studying the collapse of the World Trade Center. I am employed by CTL, an engineering firm in Chicago, Illinois, as Senior Vice President.
The tragic events of September 11 have served as a grim reminder that there is no limit to the destructive forces that man can use to damage or destroy the Nation's infrastructure. We all personally mourn those lost in the attack.
On the afternoon of September 11, the Structural Engineering Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers began assembling two teams of experts to study the performance of the buildings at the World Trade Center complex and at the Pentagon. The goal of the studies is to increase our knowledge and understanding of how buildings subjected to extreme forces, such as those caused by the crash and resulting fires, perform under these unprecedented circumstances.
Studies of this type were performed by ASCE six times in the year 2000, following other disasters. ASCE provides the internal mechanism to organize and fund these studies. In 1995, ASCE, in partnership with FEMA, organized a team that I headed to examine the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and the surrounding area after that bombing. The teams assembled by SEI/ASCE and a coalition of professional organizations that joined us, are comprised of academics and other leading experts in the fields of structural analysis and design, fire engineering, blast effects, and building materials. On October 1, the WTC study became a joint effort between ASCE and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a partnership which continues to this day.
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The partnership with FEMA has been very beneficial to the overall progress of the WTC team. In addition to providing funds, FEMA has provided logistical assistance, organizational and operational guidance, assistance in obtaining and organizing the needed data, and will provide the research to publish the report.
Team members have examined structural debris from the Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island and at two recycling yards in New Jersey. Samples of the structural steel were obtained and have been subjected to laboratory analysis. They are presently being stored at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland, for use in future studies.
In the 10 years in which ASCE has been conducting studies of disasters, we have learned that our teams will always encounter impediments. However, we have also learned that with time and persistence, these difficulties are either overcome or an alternate approach is found to enable a team to satisfactorily complete their study.
Delay in the receipt of plans did, somewhat, hinder the team's ability to confirm our understanding of the buildings. Through the efforts of FEMA and others, the team received the engineering plans for the towers on January 8 of this year and work is proceeding.
There has been concern expressed by others that the work of the team has been hampered because debris was removed from the site and has subsequently been processed for recycling. The team has had full access to scrap yards and to the site and has been able to obtain numerous samples. At this point, there is no indication that having access to each piece of steel from the World Trade Center would have made a significant difference to understanding the performance of the structures.
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Resources are always an issue with building performance studies, particularly one whose magnitude and scale is unprecedented. The total amount of resources being dedicated to support the team's activities is approximately $1 million, plus an estimated additional million dollars in volunteer time by our team members. This support has allowed the team to do the initial reconnaissance of the site and the building materials, begin the process of hypothesis-setting, and conduct some limited testing. It is our opinion that $40 million or more is needed to fully fund the necessary additional comprehensive study.
As many in the United States and the world examine the future of tall buildings, it is important to look at how well these buildings performed under extreme circumstances. It must be remembered that large commercial aircraft hit the World Trade Center towers, yet, both withstood the initial impact.
Efforts such as those being conducted by the Building Performance Study Teams and studies emanating from this initial study will seek to extend the performance of structures to allow occupants and rescuers time to reach safety.
There are two high-priority needs from the structural engineering community which I would like to draw your attention. The first is the issue of progressive collapse. The second is the issue of fire structure interaction. We believe that each of these needs are crucial to advancing the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of our Nation. The work will require a substantial partnership between public agencies, such as NIST, and private organizations, such as ASCE, and our coalition partners.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Thank you for the opportunity to express ASCE's views. We offer Congress and all the agencies involved in the recovery efforts ASCE's full resources to manage the Nation's critical infrastructure needs. We are ready to help in any way possible.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Corley follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DR. W. GENE CORLEY
Senior Vice President, CTL Engineering, Chicago, IL; On behalf of the American Society of Civil Engineers
The tragic events of September 11 have served as a grim reminder that there is no limit to the destructive forces than man can use to damage or destroy our nation's infrastructure. The civil engineering profession, as stewards for our nation's infrastructure, feels obligated to make certain the critical public works our communities and nation depend on are protected. Through the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the profession has taken a leading role in addressing infrastructure vulnerability and is developing both short- and long-term strategies to mitigate the impact of future disasters on our critical civil infrastructure.
Founded in 1852, ASCE represents more than 125,000 civil engineers worldwide and is the country's oldest national engineering society. ASCE members represent the profession most responsible for the nation's built environment. Our members work in consulting, contracting, industry, government and academia. In addition to developing guideline documents, state-of-the-art reports, and a multitude of different journals, ASCE, an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved standards developer, establishes standards of practice such as the document known as ASCE 7 which provides minimum design loads for buildings and other structures. ASCE 7 is used internationally and is referenced in all of our nation's major model building codes.
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In response to the events of September 11th, ASCE is implementing a multifaceted response plan, significant elements of which are outlined here. Following this abbreviated outline of our initiative is a more detailed discussion of ASCE's efforts related to the World Trade Center.
ASCE's Critical Infrastructure Response Initiative
On October 9, 2001, the ASCE Board of Direction voted to expend money from reserves on a Critical Infrastructure Response Initiative (CIRI). The objective of CIRI is to establish strategies and guidelines for:
1. Assessing U.S. infrastructure vulnerability.
2. Using the results of vulnerability assessments to prioritize infrastructure renovation.
3. Identifying research and development needs for new approaches to protecting critical infrastructure.
4. Developing retrofit designs to mitigate damage from disasters.
5. Developing new approaches to design and construction.
6. Improving disaster preparedness and response.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 To accomplish the CIRI objectives, ASCE has undertaken the following activities:
1. Review and evaluate existing and pending legislation regarding infrastructure, and provide appropriate input.
2. Identify existing and pending infrastructure initiatives by other professional and technical associations to identify opportunities for partnering, and to avoid duplication of efforts. For example, EPA has several water supply initiatives underway with AMWA. These initiatives, however, are currently focused on operations and management, and ways will be sought to provide input regarding design and construction issues.
3. Identify existing and pending infrastructure initiatives by federal agencies to identify opportunities for partnering.
4. Create a liaison or partnership with the Office of Homeland Security regarding the assessment of infrastructure vulnerability and the design and construction of mitigation measures.
In each of these areas, ASCE stands ready to assist other organizations, both public and private, to reduce the vulnerability of our nation's infrastructure.
ASCE's Efforts Related to the World Trade Center
Building Performance Study Teams
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 On the afternoon of September 11, 2001, the Structural Engineering Institute of ASCE (SEI/ASCE) began assembling two teams of experts to study the performance of the buildings at the World Trade Center Complex and the Pentagon. The goal of the studies is to increase our knowledge and understanding of how buildings subject to extreme forces, such as those caused by the crash and resulting fires, perform under these unusual circumstances.
The scope of the WTC study team is quite broad. Although much of the Nation's attention has been riveted to the collapse of the twin 110-story towers, the WTC team is also examining several of the buildings in the surrounding area to determine what lessons might be learned from the performance of those structures as a result of their being impacted by falling debris and ensuing fires. Of particular interest to the engineering community is the performance of WTC 7 and the Banker's Trust Building.
Studies of this type have been performed by ASCE following other disasters under the authority of ASCE's Disaster Response Procedure, which provides the internal mechanism to organize and fund these studies. This was the fifth time in 2001 that the procedure was used to create study teams. Earlier teams, whose members were experts in earthquakes and lifeline engineering, were dispatched to study and document the damage from the earthquakes in El Salvador, India, Seattle, and Peru. In 1995, ASCE, in partnership with FEMA, organized a team to examine the Murrah Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City and surrounding area after the bombing.
Team Members and Partnering Organizations
The teams assembled by SEI/ASCE are comprised of leading experts in the fields of structural analysis and design, fire engineering, blast effects, and building materials. On October 1st, the WTC study became a joint effort between ASCE and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a partnership, which continues to this day.
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The partnership with FEMA has proven to be extremely beneficial to the overall success and progress of the WTC team. In addition to providing funds, FEMA has provided logistical assistance, organizational and operational guidance, assistance in obtaining and organizing the needed data, and will provide the resources to publish the report. Utilizing the FEMA standard operation procedure for post-disaster engineering studies, managed through a contract with the architecture and engineering firm, Greenhorne & O'Mara, Inc., FEMA helped organize and coordinate the on-site operation of the BPS Team as they performed their initial data-collection efforts in New York City.
The WTC team is headed by W. Gene Corley, Ph.D., P.E., a preeminent expert on building collapse investigations and building codes. A full list of team members and an indication of their areas of expertise is attached. Dr. Corley, whose biography is attached, was the team leader and principal author of the ASCE/FEMA Murrah Federal Office Building Study Report in 1995.
The Pentagon team is headed by Paul Mlakar, Ph.D., P.E., of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Waterways Experiment Station in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Dr. Mlakar is a preeminent expert in blast engineering and was also a member of the ASCE/FEMA team, which examined the Murrah Federal Office Building.
In addition to assembling the teams of experts, SEI/ASCE has also organized a coalition of professional organizations to participate and support the work. These partnering organizations include: the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE), which provided recommendations of team members; the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), which provided counsel on the fire engineering aspects of the study; and the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY), which provided on-going assistance in the examination of the debris. It should be noted that SEAoNY, on its own initiative, was instrumental in providing assistance to the rescue and recovery operations immediately after the attacks. Additional members of the coalition are the American Institute of Steel Construction, Inc. (AISC), the American Concrete Institute (ACI), the Council of American Structural Engineers (CASE), the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), the International Code Council (ICC), the Masonry Society (TMS) and the National Council of Structural Engineering Associations (NCSEA).
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To increase our knowledge and understanding of the performance of the structures, the study is focusing on the response of the buildings, including fire behavior, structural design, fireproofing characteristics, and damage resulting from the aircraft impacts. As a result of this study, the structural and fire protection engineers comprising the team hope to provide an accurate description of the events and a preliminary assessment of the behavior of the affected buildings.
Simultaneous with the efforts to assemble the team and organize the supporting coalition, work began to collect data and information pertinent to the study. A significant part of this data collection phase was holding a meeting of the team in New York City to examine the wreckage and the surrounding buildings impacted by the collapse. On September 29th, the City of New York granted the team access to the World Trade Center site and from October 7th to the 12th, the entire team was on site. The team was provided with unrestricted access to all areas of the site except for areas where their presence might have impeded the on-going rescue and recovery efforts and areas which were determined to be extremely hazardous. To aid the team in this intense 6-day effort, FEMA made its Regional Operation Center (less that 8 blocks form the WTC site) available for use by the team on a 247 basis.
During this time period, team members also examined structural debris at the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island and at the two recycling yards in New Jersey. Samples of structural steel were obtained and have since been subjected to laboratory analyses. Under the guidance of selected team members, numerous professional engineers who are members of SEAoNY are continuing this work on the team's behalf and have been visiting recycling yards and landfills regularly since the beginning of November. Additional samples of the structural steel have been obtained and are presently being stored at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland for use in future studies.
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Unlike other structural collapses, there is an unprecedented volume of photographic and video evidence available for the team to review, including more than 120 hours of network and private video footage. Individual team members have viewed every foot of this videotape and provided information on the available data to the team at large.
Beyond the information and data pertaining to the events on September 11th, there is also a need to establish, as accurately as possible, the physical attributes of the towers and surrounding buildings prior to the impact of the airplanes. Doing this is a monumental task. The construction of the towers was documented by literally thousands of engineering drawings. In addition, there were numerous changes to the towers over their life. This effort is also being conducted for WTC 7, which is of considerable interest to the team. These data, together with the data previously described will be used to construct detailed computer models of the structures.
Impediments Encountered by the Building Performance Study Teams
In the 10 years in which ASCE has been conducting studies of disasters we have learned that our teams will always encounter impediments. It is therefore not surprising that the study team has encountered some difficulties in their data collection activities. However, we have also learned that with time and persistence these difficulties are either overcome or an alternate approach is found to enable the team to satisfactorily complete their study as described below.
When studying damaged structures it is important to understand the physical nature of the original structure as soon as possible. Commonly this is accomplished by obtaining and studying the engineering plans of the structures. Because the team did not have the engineering plans of the affected structures during the site visit in early October, arrangements were made to have several of the principal designers make presentations to the team. These briefings enabled the team to conduct their site visit more efficiently and to better understand the structure of the affected buildings. The delay in the receipt of the plans hindered the team's ability to confirm their understanding of the buildings. Through the efforts of FEMA and others, the team received the engineering plans for the WTC Towers on January 8, 2002, and work is proceeding.
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As noted previously, there is an enormous volume of video and photographic documentation of the events of September 11th. This type of evidence can often yield significant insights into the failure mechanisms but it is imperative that the highest quality video footage be used. The team did experience some difficulty in obtaining video footage from the various television networks.
Obtaining access to the site of a disaster is always difficult and clearly the search and rescue efforts and any criminal investigation must take first priority. However, in all studies of this nature, gaining access to the site as soon as possible is important in order to observe and document the debris and site conditions. For the future, it may be useful to consider some protocol or process whereby selected individuals from the BPST would be allowed on site in the initial days after a catastrophic event to gather critical data.
There has been some concern expressed by others that the work of the team has been hampered because debris was removed from the site and has subsequently been processed for recycling. This is not the case. The team has had full access to the scrap yards and to the site and has been able to obtain numerous samples. At this point there is no indication that having access to each piece of steel from the World Trade Center would make a significant difference to understanding the performance of the structures.
Resources are always an issue with building performance studies, particularly for one whose magnitude and scale is unprecedented. The total amount of resources being dedicated to support the team's activities is approximately $1 million, which has allowed the team to do the initial reconnaissance of the site and the building materials, begin the process of hypothesis setting, and conduct some limited testing. This raises the question of what amount of money would be sufficient. It is our opinion that $40 million would be a sufficient amount to fully fund a comprehensive study of an event of this magnitude and complexity.
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A Protocol for Future Building Performance Study Teams
The Building Performance Assessment Team program in place within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a long and distinguished history of providing excellent information to the engineering profession. The BPAT program has a detailed protocol in place which has been continually refined and improved upon throughout its use.
Similarly, ASCE's Disaster Response Procedure has been successfully used by ASCE to conduct important studies of significant disasters. ASCE's procedure also has been refined and improved upon through its history.
The history of both of these programs however has been predominantly with natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes or floods. While it is certainly our sincere hope that the anti-terrorist efforts of our government will prove successful, it may be useful to review the existing protocols from the perspective of their application to major, unprecedented events such as the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. This could address some of the impediments that were discussed above.
A Case Study for Improved Building Practices?
As many in the United States and the world examine the future of tall buildings it is important to look at how well these buildings performed under extreme circumstances. It must be remembered that large commercial aircraft hit the World Trade Center Towers, yet both withstood the initial impact. Additionally, as has been widely reported, almost all of the individuals in the buildings below the impact zone were able to get out of the buildings to safety. Efforts such as that being conducted by the Building Performance Study teams and studies emanating from this initial study will seek to extend the performance of structures to allow occupants ample time to reach safety.
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Because there is no limit to the destructive forces which terrorists can bring to bear against our built infrastructure it is impossible to design a building to withstand such an attack. The multi-faceted approach presently being pursued, that being to prevent the attack initially and pursue rational, scientifically based methods to improve structural performance, is both sound and prudent.
Future Research Needs for Civil Engineering
As has occurred throughout the world, the events of September 11th have created new challenges for the civil and structural engineering communities. Solving the problems presented by these challenges will be neither easy nor quick, and will require the collective efforts from a broad range of engineering and scientific disciplines.
While there will be a number of specific issues and recommendations in the reports being issued by the ASCE/FEMA WTC study team and the ASCE Pentagon study team later this spring, there are several high priority needs from the structural engineering community to which I would like to draw your attention:
Progressive Collapse: The likelihood of a building or structure collapsing progressively is dependent upon two inter-related through separate behaviors: the event or load to which the structure is subjected and the strength or redundancy of the structure. At present, there is no rational technical basis to specify the initiating event or conversely to evaluate the effectiveness of alternative mitigation strategies, either alone or in combination. While virtually all structures contain some degree of redundancy, we must now live, build and function in a world where the performance demands placed on our built infrastructure have been altered, thereby necessitating the development of engineering-based tools to guide our profession in the future.
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Fire-Structure Interaction: While events such as those of September 11th are rare, and through the efforts of the President and Congress will be even less likely in the future, normal fires in buildings and other structures are not rare events. To continue to improve the performance of structures in a fire environment will require the development of new tools and design methods through the collaboration of the fire engineering and structural engineering communities for application to both new and existing buildings. This work should include tools by which to address fire as a structural design load, understanding the behavior of structural connections under fire conditions, and a coupling between fire dynamics and structural response.
We believe that each of these needs are crucial to advancing the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of our nation. Each of these priorities are also highly complex and will require a substantial partnership between public agencies and private organizations to accomplish this work.
In the private sector, ASCE has begun this work through the establishment of a multidisciplinary coalition of engineering organizations. This coalition, led by the Structural Engineering Institute of ASCE, includes the Society of Fire Protection Engineers, the National Fire Protection Association, the Structural Engineers Association of New York, and the International Code Council. Taken in combination, this coalition represents over 250,000 architects, engineers and scientists who stand ready to bring their talents and expertise to meeting the needs of our nation.
In the public sector, the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Building and Fire Research Laboratory (BFRL), as the only federal laboratory dedicated to both building and fire research, BFRL can play a key role in assessing and addressing the vulnerability of the nation's buildings and physical infrastructure. The public-private response program that has been established with significant NIST leadership encompasses the critical needs identified above. We urge you to provide the support and resources sought by NIST so that together we can continue to provide the reliability and performance which our country expects from our physical infrastructure.
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Thank you for the opportunity to express ASCE's views. We offer you and all of the agencies involved in the recovery efforts ASCE's full resources to manage the nation's critical infrastructure needs. We are ready to help in any way possible, and I am eager to hear from you regarding ways that ASCE's CIRI can support you as you examine our infrastructure needs in the coming months.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, Dr. Corley. Dr. Corbett.
STATEMENT OF PROFESSOR GLENN P. CORBETT, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF FIRE SCIENCE AT JOHN JAY COLLEGE, NEW YORK CITY
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Mr. CORBETT. Yes. Good afternoon, Chairman Boehlert, and, members of the House Committee on Science. I want to thank you for inviting me to speak on the topic of the World Trade Center disaster investigation. This is an issue of significant national importance, and I speak for many who understand this importance.
I would like to discuss three issues with you todayan analysis of the current building performance assessment study of the World Trade Center collapse, a proposal for an enhanced national disaster investigation response protocol for future disasters, and a recommendation for a commission on the World Trade Center disaster.
In the wake of the loss of the World Trade Center, many questions began to arise as to the cause of the collapse of the Twin Towers. What were the specific causal factors of the collapse, and what was the exact sequence of events that led to the collapse? These are important questions that impact national security. We are a Nation at risk. There are many high-rise buildings and structures across the country and many more on the way and we need to learn from the events of 9/11 and apply these lessons.
As engineers, architects, builders, as firefighters, and as citizens who occupy high-rises, and as those who are in a position to protect those citizens, there are critical questions regarding this collapse, and they need answering. And we need to extract all of the lessons for thefor future generations who will live and work in high-rise buildings.
The building performance assessment currently being conducted of the collapse is just thatan assessment, not an investigation, in my opinion. While the Building Performance Assessment Team is composed of an elite group of engineers and scientists, the standard procedures used by the BPAT team have proven to be inadequate. Handling the collapse study as an assessment, rather than as an investigation, has allowed valuable evidence in the form of the towers' structural steel to be destroyed. It is the steel that holds the primary key to understanding the chronology of the events resulting in the collapse.
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Without an official investigative presence, the FEMA Sanction Assessment Team did not have the authority to ensure that all the structural steel was thoroughly examined and the crucial steel from the points of impact were saved for examination. It is my understanding that only a handful of pieces of the steel from the points of impact have been secured to date. In addition, the BPAT team studying the collapse has apparently been hampered in accessing building construction documents. These problems will have an impact on the BPAT report that is due to be released in April. The lack of significant amounts of steel for examination will make it difficult, if not impossible, to make a definitive statement as to the cause and chronology of the collapse.
The collapse of the World Trade Center disasterthe World Trade Center towers was the largest structural collapse in world history. A disaster of such epic proportions demands that we fully resource a comprehensive, detailed investigation. Instead, we are staffing the BPAT with part-time engineers and scientists on a shoestring budget.
The current World Trade Center disaster inquiry has exposed a gaping hole in the way that we investigate disasters. We don't have a comprehensive plan for disaster investigations, except for plane crashes, and we don't apply the necessary resources for a complete and thorough investigation. And we need to have an enhanced disaster investigation response protocol that provides for a systematic, multidisciplinary, and scientifically rigorous approach. We need to bring in the experts in an organized and rapid manner to extract all of the lessons from the disaster. Finally, we need to make sure that the lessons are actually applied.
I would recommend that the task force be impaneled to develop an enhanced disaster investigation protocol. Given FEMA's role in disaster response and their critical disaster mitigation responsibilities, I would recommend that this task force be initiated within their organization.
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With regard to the World Trade Center disaster, there are several other additional areas that need to be investigated and studied. Specifically, there are five additional focus areas that are of concernan analysis of the building design itself, the fire fighting operations, the building evacuations, the search and rescue operations, and the relationship between the disaster and our building and fire codes.
In order to gather all the lessons, we must analyze the disaster as a whole. Studying them as individual items eliminates the critical process of information-sharing and understanding the interrelationships between these different focus areas. We need to bring all six of these focus areas together as a collective group under one roof, so to speak. Studying the disaster as a whole will also ensure coordination, avoid duplication, and verify that all areas of concern are being covered. I would recommend that a commission on the World Trade Center disaster be immediately organized to initiate a comprehensive investigation and to coordinate the existing public and private research projects that are already underway.
For example, an ad hoc committee entitled, ''The World Trade Center Evacuation Study Initiative,'' has been meeting for several months to study the issues of the building evacuations. Study groups like these need to be brought together. A variety of important lessons will come from the World Trade Center disaster that will apply to our current national building codes.
For example, our current requirements in high-rise structures treat a 15-story building the same as we treat a 100-story building. In fact, from a fire-fighting perspective, a 15-story building is completely different than a 100-story building, as we well know.
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Another example is that the test that we utilize to establish the fire resistance of beams and columnssteel columns. The test was first developed in the 1920's and, yet, we are still using the same test with the same 1920's fires in the year 2002. We need to address and correct these kinds of deficiencies.
We can learn many lessons from the disaster at the World Trade Center. In fact, we must learn these lessons. The lessons will form better building codes, improved building design methodologies, improved emergency procedures, and enhanced protection against terrorist attacks. We must assure that these lessons are actually applied, increasing the level of safety and security for all of our citizens.
I thank you, Chairman Boehlert, and the honorable members of the Committee on Science for giving me this important opportunity to share my thoughts with you. I would be happy to answer any questions that you may have and we would ask that
[The prepared statement of Mr. Corbett follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF GLENN P. CORBETT
Good afternoon Chairman Boehlert and Members of the House Committee on Science. I want to thank you for inviting me to speak on the topic of the World Trade Center disaster investigation. This is an issue of national importance, and I speak for many who understand that importance.
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 I would like to discuss three issues with you today: an analysis of the current building performance assessment study of the World Trade Center collapse, a proposal for a national disaster investigation response protocol for future disasters, and a recommendation for a Commission on the World Trade Center Disaster.
In the wake of the loss of the World Trade Center, many questions began to arise as to the cause of the collapse of the twin towers. We know, of course, that the towers collapsed catastrophically in a very short time. We know that there is no precedent for this event. And we in the fire protection engineering community know that building failures result directly from very specific causal factors and structural behavioral characteristics that, in the case of the WTC, have yet to be determined.
What role did the planes play in destroying the structural integrity of the towers? What was the impact of the jet fuel fires upon the steel trusses and columns? How long did the jet fuel fires burn? What were the specific causal factors of collapse and what was the exact sequence of events that led to the collapse?
These are important questions that impact national security. We are a nation at risk. There are many high-rise structures in the United Statesand more on the waythat demand that we learn from the disaster on 911 and apply the lessons learned.
As engineers, as architects, as builders, as firefighters, as citizens who occupy high-rises, and as those who are in a position to protect those citizens, there are critical questions regarding this collapse that need answering. We must extract the lessons for future generations who will live and work in high-rise structures.
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The building performance assessment currently being conducted of the World Trade Center collapse is just that: an assessment, not an investigation. While the Building Performance Assessment Team (BPAT) is composed of an elite group of engineers and scientists, the standard procedures used by the BPAT have proven to be inadequate. Handling the collapse study as an assessment has allowed valuable evidencethe steel building componentsto be destroyed. The steel holds the primary key to understanding the chronology of events and causal factors resulting in the collapse.
Without an investigative presence, the FEMA-sanctioned assessment team did not have the authoritynor the organizational wherewithalto ensure that all of the structural steel was thoroughly examined and the crucial steel from the points of impact saved for examination. Only a handful of pieces of steel from the points of impact have been secured to date. In addition, the BPAT studying the collapse has apparently been hampered in accessing building construction documents.
These hindrances will have an impact on the BPAT report, due to be released in April. The lack of significant amounts of steel for examination will make it difficult, if not impossible, to make a definitive statement as to the specific cause and chronology of the collapse.
The collapse of the World Trade Center towers were the largest structural collapses in world history. A disaster of such epic proportions demands that we fully resource a comprehensive, detailed investigation. Instead, we are staffing the BPAT with part-time engineers and scientists on a shoestring budget.
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The current World Trade Center disaster inquiry has exposed a gaping hole in the way that we investigate disasters. We don't have a comprehensive plan for disaster investigations (other than plane crashes) and we don't apply the necessary resources for complete and thorough investigations of disasters.
We must have a comprehensive plan in place to handle such large-scale investigations. We need to have a greatly enhanced national disaster investigation response protocol, providing for a systematic approach. We must bring in the experts in a rapid, organized manner to extract all of the lessons from a disaster. Finally, and most importantly, we need to ensure that the lessons are actually applied.
I recommend that a task force be impaneled to develop such a protocol. In my opinion, FEMA would be the best organization to organize the task force, given their role in disaster response and their critical disaster mitigation responsibilities. [Witness would like to submit, for the record, a document entitled Appendix A ''PROPOSAL FOR AN ENHANCED DISASTER INVESTIGATION PROTOCOL.'']
The collapses of the World Trade Center structures are not the only areas of concern. There are five other very important areas of study concerning the World Trade Center disaster need to be explored. In addition to the collapse study, we should be analyzing the building designs themselves, the firefighting procedures, the building evacuations, the search and rescue operations, and the impact on building and fire codes.
These six primary focus areas would form the basis of a complete World Trade Center study. Since these focus areas are multidisciplinary, it is critical that the experts in each of these areas be permitted to come together under one roof, so to speak. This will ensure coordination, avoid duplication, verify that all areas of concern are covered, and ensure that the essential process of information sharing takes place.
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The World Trade Center disaster must be analyzed as a total event, using an integrated, scientifically rigorous approach. Studying the issues individually minimizes the effect on the whole. There are interrelationships among these areas that must be combined and the lessons applied for future generations.
I recommend that a World Trade Center Disaster Commission be immediately organized to initiate a comprehensive investigation and to coordinate the existing public and private World Trade Center research projects currently underway. For example, an ad hoc committee entitled the World Trade Center Evacuation Study Initiative (composed of life safety experts from many different organizations) has been meeting for several months to study the issues of the World Trade Center building evacuations. It is important that this group and other World Trade Center research projects come together to allow for a coordinated approach to studying this disaster.
The Commission should be given the appropriate authority and staff to ensure that a viable investigation plan is created and implemented, with the ultimate goal of producing a comprehensive report that details the findings of the investigation, the ''lessons learned,'' and, finally, the ''needs for further research.''
Some of the lessons that will emerge in the Commission report will apply directly to our building codes and the way that we build new structures. Of particular importance are the regulations covering fire protection of high-rise buildings. [Witness would like to submit, for the record, a document entitled Appendix B, ''PROPOSAL FOR A WORLD TRADE CENTER DISASTER COMMISSION.'']
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Our current high-rise code requirements do not address the real world issues encountered when fighting fires in high-rise buildings. For example, our model building codes treat a 15-story building exactly the same as a 100-story building in terms of fire protectionwe apply the same level of structural fire resistance, the same fire protection systems, the same everything. We place heavy reliance on automatic sprinkler systems, with little redundancy in terms of structural fire resistance to ensure that the building will stay up long enough to allow for firefighters to reach the fire area, rescue trapped inhabitants, and generally deal with the situation. Automatic sprinklers are the best protection against fire, but we need to have a backup when we are 1,000 feet high in a building on fire. We need a proper balance of passive and active protection in larger high-rise structures.
An example of the crucial need for research is found when we analyze the current test used to establish the fire resistance various structural members used in buildings. This test, commonly known as A.S.T.M. E119, was developed to provide assurance that the fire protection coating/encasement provided for beams and columns would allow them to be subjected to high temperatures and not collapse. This test, however, dates back to the 1920's and is based upon the temperatures recorded when a set of buildings were burned back then for study purposes. Today, we basically still use the same test with the same ''fire'' temperature and exposure conditions developed over 75 years ago. I would argue that the fires of the 1920's are different than those of today, and that this nationally accepted test needs to be thoroughly reexamined in light of what happened on 911.
We can learn many lessons from the disaster at the World Trade Center. In fact, we must learn these lessons. The lessons may take the form of better building code regulations, enhanced building design methodologies, improved emergency procedures, and enhanced protection against terrorist attacks. We must assure that these lessons are actually applied, thus improving the level of safety and security for American citizens.
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I thank you, Congressman Boehlert and honorable Members of the Science Committee, for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you. I would be happy to answer any questions that you may have.
PROPOSAL FOR AN ENHANCED DISASTER INVESTIGATION PROTOCOL
PREPARED BY PROFESSOR GLENN P. CORBETT
JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE
Need for an Enhanced Protocol:
When a major disaster strikes in the United States, very important questions typically arise: What happened? Why were so many lives lost? How can we prevent this from happening in the future?
These questions need answers. If we are to protect ourselves and future generations, we must learn the lessons of the disaster and apply them.
For past disasters like the Oklahoma City bombing and the Northridge earthquake, a variety of research projects were undertaken. While these research projects produced very useful information, they were conducted independently, without the benefit of a central coordinating body to integrate all of the information. In addition, it has become apparent that some of the very critical lessons never found their way into general design practicethere is a disconnect between the private sector code-writing organizations and the lessons coming out of the research projects.
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Since disasters are multidisciplinary, they require an integrated and comprehensive approach. The disaster must be investigated as a whole, following standard investigative procedures. A single standardized model can be developed for all disasters, with a specific set of ''adaptable'' procedures for each type of disaster.
Development of an Enhanced Disaster Investigation Protocol
Since FEMA has responsibilities for disaster response and disaster mitigation, it is suggested that the development of an enhanced disaster investigation protocol be initiated within FEMA. Other Federal agencies and private sector organizations with disaster responsibilities/interest would obviously need to participate in the development of the protocol. The National Transportation Safety Board's investigation procedures provide a very useful model for which to begin the development of an enhanced disaster investigation protocol.
''Organizational'' Details of a Enhanced Disaster Investigation Protocol
Organizationally, an enhanced disaster investigation protocol:
Utilizes an investigative ''lessons learned'' approach to analyzing disasters.
Provides a detailed investigation ''command structure'' to establish which agency is in charge and the limits of its investigative authority.
Details the responsibilities of each participating organization.
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Establishes the specific types of disasters that will be investigated and the necessary resources needed for each type of disaster.
''Functional'' Details of an Enhanced Disaster Investigation Protocol
Functionally, an enhanced disaster investigation protocol:
Incorporates a ''rapid response'' capability, allowing for the immediate deployment of a initial set of investigators to plan the investigation, secure evidence, and to begin the documentation process.
Ensures the deployment of self-sufficient, disaster-specific ''specialist teams'' to the scene to conduct the detailed investigation work (similar to USAR organization).
Ensure that periodic press releases are issued to inform the public of the investigation and its progress.
''Coordination'' Details of an Enhanced Disaster Investigation Protocol
In order to assure coordination, an enhanced disaster investigation protocol:
Ensures that liaisons are appointed to the local incident commander's command post, search and rescue teams (e.g., USAR), and criminal investigation organizations (e.g., FBI) to ensure coordination with their efforts.
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Ensures that the appropriate ''specialist teams'' are deployed and are working together efficiently.
Ensures that additional ''outside'' research efforts are integrated into the investigation.
Ensures that a regimented set of meetings with specialist team leaders and staff are held to review progress and to keep investigation on course.
''Final Report'' Details of an Enhanced Disaster Investigation Protocol
In order to produce a comprehensive report, an enhanced disaster investigation protocol:
Ensures that the specialist team leaders are assembled to provide oral presentations to other team leaders/staff and to provide written draft reports for inclusion in Final Report.
Ensures that the staff support collates the team reports and configures them into a standardized, ''single author'' report format.
Ensures that long-term research needs are identified and documented for inclusion in the Final Report.
''Applied Lessons'' Details of an Enhanced Disaster Investigation Protocol
Page 91 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 To ensure the application of the ''lessons learned,'' an enhanced investigation protocol:
Appoints code-writing organization representatives to investigative ''specialist teams.''
Establishes a ''formal agreement'' with the private sector code-writing bodies that ensures every recommendation for a change in the codes will be formally reviewed by the code-writing body. Final disposition of ''disaster'' code change proposals (including rationale if code change is rejected) will be formally documented and issued back to the affected disaster investigation organizations.
PROPOSAL FOR A WORLD TRADE CENTER DISASTER COMMISSION
PREPARED BY PROFESSOR GLENN P. CORBETT
JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE
Need for the Commission:
In the wake of the World Trade Center disaster, it has become readily apparent that many issues involving high-rise building construction, emergency evacuation procedures, firefighting operations, and other important concerns must be analyzed collectively in order to learn from the disaster and apply the lessons to the future. Many Americans live and work in high-rise buildings, so it is essential that we learn as much as possible about this disaster.
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The establishment of a Commission will allow for the various public and private research efforts currently underway to come together ''under one roof'' and share information, a critical issue when studying a disaster as complex as the collapse of the World Trade Center towers. The multidisciplinary aspects of the World Trade Center necessitate that the disaster be investigated in that context, allowing for the identification of interrelationships between the areas of concern.
The Commission will direct an investigation and coordinate a comprehensive review of all aspects of the World Trade Center disaster. The Commission will take a ''lessons learned'' type of approach in its review and analysis of the disaster.
The Commission will utilize the expertise of nationally recognized individuals in the fields of architecture, engineering, forensic investigation, construction methods and materials, fire protection and life safety, human behavior, firefighting, search and rescue, terrorism, building/fire code development and emergency management.
The Commission will prepare a set of detailed recommendations for the improvement of building designs, building materials, safety regulations and building codes, as well as emergency response procedures.
The Commission could form the model for a portion of an enhanced disaster investigation protocol.
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Establishment of the Commission:
Given the role of FEMA in disaster response and hazard mitigation, it is logical to have the Commission operate under the auspices of FEMA. FEMA would play the role of coordinator and provide staff and facility support (including the development of a final report).
The Commission should have a ''core'' of eight primary members, including a Chairman, a Vice Chairman, and designated leaders from each of the six focus areas identified below. All eight of the Commissioners would meet on a regular basis to share information, identify needs, and to direct the overall activities of the Commission.
Six Primary ''Focus Areas'' of Commission:
Search and Rescue Operations
Building Codes and Regulations
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Examples of ''Focus Area'' Inquiries:
Identify general design concepts (''lightweight'' construction, loads, etc.).
List fire protection features in original design and improvements.
Describe fire protection and life safety upgrades after 1993 attack.
Establish means of egress design objectives.
Create chronology of events leading to collapse.
Examination of physical evidence to identify failure mode(s) leading to collapse.
Examination of physical evidence to assess material behavior.
Model fire behavior (temperature, heat release rate, etc.), including contribution of jet fuel.
Create fire and structural models to illustrate building conditions for duration of incident.
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Interview surviving firefighters, review radio transmissions, and analyze reports to create as complete a ''picture'' of firefighting response as possible.
''Map'' and analyze incident command structure.
Establish the overall goals of incident command officers, including use of ''standard'' high-rise firefighting strategies.
Enumerate tactical problems encountered by fire companies.
Detail radio transmission problems at incident.
Analyze building evacuation procedures, including directions given to occupants by building staff.
Interview evacuees to collect their observations and experiences during evacuation.
Model the evacuation including time of egress, points of constriction, crossovers delays, etc.
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Search and Rescue Operations
Detail coordinated effort between FDNY and USAR teams.
Establish impact of ''self-responders'' on rescue operations.
Analyze performance of ''tools and technologies'' used in search efforts (robots, ''listening devices,'' cutting equipment, etc.).
Detail efforts of maintaining ''scene safety.''
Building Codes and Regulations
Establish national standards/codes in effect at time of construction.
Identify the deficiencies of ASTM E119 (a national test standard that establishes structural fire resistance of various fire resistive materials) when compared with the fire conditions experienced during the incident.
Review the high-rise requirements found in current national building codes in context of this incident.
Correlate accepted terrorism design strategies with this incident and develop design criteria for inclusion in building codes.
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The Final Report of the Commission:
Upon completion of the investigation and research efforts, a final report should be issued. The report will tell the story of the disaster, highlight the lessons learned, identify additional research needs, and provide a set of specific recommendations. General examples of recommendations could include the following:
Identification of building/fire code provisions that need to be added/updated/deleted.
Procedural changes for fire service response to high-rise and terrorist incidents
Changes in evacuation procedures and egress capacity criteria
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, Dr. Corbett. Dr. Astaneh.
STATEMENT OF DR. ABOLHASSAN ASTANEH-ASL, PROFESSOR, DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL AND ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY
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Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. With your permissionMr. Chairman, with your permission, I would like to use the projection.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Can we have the lights dimmed, please, so we get a betterI thank you.
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. Chairman Boehlert, members of the Committee, families of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack, it is a great honor for me to testify here today.
My involvement in the collapse of the World Trade Center is to conduct reconnaissance of the collapsed and damaged World Trade Center buildings and to collect the structural engineering perishable data. The main objectives are to document failure modes, learn as much as possible from the collapse, collect material samples for future testing, and conduct a realistic failure analysis of the towers subjected to impact and ensuing fire in order to understand the causes of the collapse.
Our project was funded by the National Science Foundation as one of the eight Quick Response Research Awards a few days after the World Trade Center collapse. The other seven NSF grants are in the areas of fire engineering, social sciences, and response and recovery. I started my studies almost a week after the collapse and since then I have been able to investigate the structural elements of the World Trade Center and have collected data on failure modes, fire and impact damage, and have identified and saved sections of the structure that appeared to be impacted by the planes or have collapsed under an intense fire. I have also investigated the quality of construction.
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Here are some samples of my work. I was not able to access Ground Zero, so I have done my investigation at the scrap yard, looking into important failure modes and collecting important items from the recycling plant.
We will, and still are, planning to build a realistic computer-based, structural model of the World Trade Center and towers, subject the model to a realistically simulated impact of the planes, and ensuing fire, and conduct a detailed stress analysis. However, since we have not been able to obtain drawings, even now, and other data, we are unable to proceed with our study.
I would like to show you the results of one such analysis of a generic building and what type of stress analysis we can do on the World Trade Center to understand its collapse.
Here is an example of a steel structure subjected to the impacts of a fully loaded, fueled 747 airplane. This is not artistic rendering or animation of the impact. This is the result of a mathematical analysis of stress.
Here is the plane approaching that building at 450 miles per hour. It impacts the building and damages the columns and enters. Close up here, you can see the damage to the structures while we have eliminated the plane and made it invisible. Here is the damaged area.
Here is theto the right bottom is the plane and you are seeing the stresses developed in the plane and how a plane breaks. We have made the structure invisible. Notice the wings in this case clipping and dropping, but the plane breaks because the stresses are so high.
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After plane enters the building, we can analyze the heat effects, in this case, the damaged structures subjected to the heat effects. And you can see the spread of temperature and weakening of steel and the final collapse. This is what we would like to do for the World Trade Center.
The impediments to our studies were not having access to Ground Zero and surrounding damaged buildings, not having enough time to inspect the World Trade Center steel before it was recycled, not having the drawings, videotapes, photographs, and other data on the building to conduct our analysis of the collapse.
On the subject of research needs, there are pressing needs for short-term, as well as long-term research, related to the World Trade Center collapse. In the short term, there is an urgent need for a comprehensive, in-depth, and scientific study of the collapse of the World Trade Center towers. Due to the unprecedented nature of the collapse and its complexity, a broad-based team of experts from academia, government agencies, and the private sector needs to be assembled to conduct such research-oriented investigations within the Federal entities such as NSF or NIST.
In the long term, there is a need for major and sustained funding to conduct basic and applied research on various aspects of terrorist attacks. Such research programs can be directed by the National Science Foundation, among others, which, over the last few decades, has directed so successfully the research and technology development in the area of earthquake hazard mitigation, among many others.
Page 101 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 As for the fire research, NIST traditionally has been the leading research and development agency. Also, a significant amount of research has been done in academia. Such research activities supported by the Congress can result in the development of scientific methods and technologies that can be used to assure life safety in the event of future terrorist attacks, and minimize the impact of such attacks on the national security, economy, and quality of our lives.
I would like to take this opportunity and thank Chairman Boehlert and Members of the Committee on Science for inviting me to testify. I will be available to answer any questions that you might have.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Astaneh-Asl follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DR. ABOLHASSAN ASTANEH-ASL
It is a great honor for me to testify here today and address specific questions listed in your letter (in Italic below) regarding my involvement in the post disaster investigation of the World Trade Center.
What role did you play in the investigating the collapse of the WTC buildings and what do you expect to produce from your effort? How did you arrange NSF funding for your work, and how was that arranged so quickly?
My involvement in the investigation of the collapse of the World Trade Center is to conduct a reconnaissance of the collapsed and damaged WTC buildings and to collect the perishable data. The main objectives of the reconnaissance are to learn as much as possible from the actual collapsed structures and to document the failure modes and performance of the members and connections as well as quality of the construction. The purpose of collecting the perishable data is to collect material samples, photographs, videotapes, drawings and data on design, construction and collapse. Using the information collected and by conducting the necessary analyses and research, we try to establish probable causes of the collapse and most likely scenario for such collapse.
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Our project was funded by the Directorate of Engineering of the National Science Foundation as one of the eight Quick Response Research Awards in the aftermath of the WTC collapse. These projects focus on structural engineering (our project at UCBerkeley), fire engineering, social aspects and response and recovery. More information on these projects can be found at www.nsf.gov. We prepared and submitted our proposal to the National Science Foundation three days after the 9/11 events and it was reviewed and funded by the end of the week. The credit for such a fast preparation, submittal, review and funding of these research projects should be given equally to the staff at the universities involved as well as the Program Directors and staff of the National Science Foundation. The use of ''Fastlane'' electronic submittal process of the NSF also expedited the process tremendously.
So far, I have made three trips to NYC and spent a total of about 25 days there conducting field investigation and collecting data. Upon arrival to NYC on September 19, and after visiting Ground Zero and paying my respects and prayers to the victims, I started my reconnaissance and collection of the perishable data. I have collected some data on design and construction of the WTC and have met and discussed the case with the structural engineers who have designed the WTC Buildings. Thanks to cooperation of the HSNE recycling plant, I have been able to study the steel from the WTC before recycling. I have identified and saved some components of the structures that appear to have been subjected to intense fire or impact of fast moving objects. Figures 1 through 4 show examples of inspected structures. These critical pieces are saved as perishable data and can be used in future research.
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Please describe the impediments that you encountered during the investigation of the collapse of the WTC buildings, such as the loss of material from the WTC site and any effects of such impediments on your work.
I wish I had more time to inspect steel structure and save more pieces before the steel was recycled. However, given the fact that other teams such as NIST, SEAoNY and FEMABPAT have also done inspection and have collected the perishable data, it seems to me that collectively we may have been able to collect sufficient data. The main impediments to my work were and still are:
1. Not having a copy of the engineering drawings and design and construction documents.
2. Not having copies of the photographs and videotapes that various agencies might have taken during and immediately after the collapse.
Such data has already been made available to ASCE Building Performance Assessment Team. If those are also available to us, we will be able to proceed further with our research. Figure 5 shows an example of analysis of performance of generic steel high-rise structure subjected to the impact of a 747 jetliner and the ensuing fire. The example demonstrates the power of advanced technology developed in aerospace and mechanical engineering that can be brought to bear on this problem. We plan to use the drawings and the data and the software used in the example to build a computer based realistic model of the World Trade Center towers and analyze their response to simulated impact of the 767 planes that crashed into them on 9/11 and the ensuing fire.
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Should the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and/or Congress develops a more comprehensive protocolfor how to conduct investigations in response to natural disasters and/or terrorist attacks?
The earthquake engineering community has conducted post disaster investigations very successfully and systematically within the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute and funded by NSF and FEMA for several decades. As a result of such post-disaster investigations, the lessons learned and the continued research and technology developments, great advances have been made in mitigating earthquake hazard. The approach taken in earthquake engineering can equally be applied to investigation of damage due to terrorist attacks as well as to minimizing consequences of such attacks. Due to criminal nature of terrorist attacks and higher priority placed on criminal investigation over engineering investigation, it appears that there is a need for a protocol to govern the availability of information and access to the site as well as interaction of the crime investigators and researchers investigating the scientific and engineering aspects of the terrorist attacks.
What areas of research into the WTC collapse still need to be addressed, and what is the most appropriate way to handle these needs?
There are short-term and long-term research needs into the WTC collapse. In short-term, there is a need for a comprehensive, in-depth and research-oriented study of the WTC buildings from the time of plane impact, through the ensuing fire and the final collapse. Such studies not only should focus on structural and fire engineering aspects, but also social and human aspects of the tragedy as well. A broad based team of researchers and engineers from academia, government agencies and private sector, with expertise in various aspects of the problem need to be assembled to conduct such studies. In my opinion, such studies need to be directed by federal entities such as National Science Foundation (NSF) and/or National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) that are involved in directing and conducting scientific and engineering research. In December, the National Science Foundation sponsored a workshops organized by the Institute for Civil Infrastructure Systems of the New York University to identify research needs for future research related to WTC. A list of workshop recommendations can be found at www.nsf.gov. I participated at the workshop and feel that funding research in those areas will result in learning many valuable lessons from this tragedy and will result in significant improvements in the structural design, construction, fire protection, evacuation, fire fighting, rescue and recovery efforts, debris removal and many other aspects of protection of buildings and occupants against terrorist attacks.
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In the long-term, there is a need for major and sustained finding to conduct basic and applied research on various aspects of terrorist attacks. Such research activities can result in development of scientific methods and technologies to assure life safety, prevent catastrophic collapses and massive loss of lives and minimize the impact of such attacks on the national economy and security. Last months, NIST held a workshop to identify research needs related to evaluation of performance and protection of buildings during intense fires. I also participated at this workshop and feel that the research areas identified at the workshop are very important in providing engineers and architects with the technologies to protect tall buildings, their occupants and firefighter and rescuers against catastrophic fires and resulting collapse.
In the aftermath of 9/11 tragedy and the hazard posed by terrorist attacks to public safety and the economical well being of the U.S. is not much different than the hazard posed by other ''extreme events'' such as major earthquakes three or four decades ago. In the case of seismic hazard mitigation, Congress, by providing sufficient funding to the National Science Foundation and other agencies involved, has enabled research and engineering community to develop efficient and economical technologies to mitigate seismic hazard and to prevent catastrophic loss of lives. To prevent catastrophic consequences of terrorist attacks, we need to develop and fund a long-term plan of research, perhaps modeled after seismic research programs developed and supported over the years by NSF and FEMA, and in the field of protection of built environment against terrorist attacks.
Has the confidential nature of the FEMA's Building Performance Assessment Team investigation made it more difficult to gain access to materials that might be useful, such as private videotapes?
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I have not been provided with the information made available to the FEMA Building Performance Assessment Team. This includes, videotapes and photographs taken on 9/11 and the following days and copies of the engineering drawings. At this time, having the videotapes, photographs and copies of the drawings not only is useful, but also is essential in enabling us to conduct any analysis of the collapse and to formulate conclusions from our effort.
I have been the Principal Investigator in conducting research on damage and collapse of several major buildings and bridges in the aftermath of earthquakes. I understand and respect the concerns of owners, designers, builders and those who are responsible for safe operation of these structures for possible legal ramifications of findings of our research investigations. However, the main objective of our research is to understand how the WTC buildings failed and learn lessons that can be used to prevent such collapses in the future. Never before my research results have been used in any legal proceedings. However, to allay any concerns that any findings of our research project might increase the liabilities of the City, Port Authority or Silverstein, the data on these structures could be provided to the Principal Investigator (myself) on a propriety basis. The Principal Investigator would keep the data and provide the other members of the research team with the information on a need-to-know basis. I have followed similar procedures to the satisfaction of parties involved in conducting research on major buildings and bridges subjected to earthquakes and blasts due to terrorist attacks.
I would like to take this opportunity and thank Chairman Boehlert and members of the Committee on Science for inviting me to testify. I would like now to welcome any questions that you may have.
Page 107 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 BIOGRAPHY FOR ABOLHASSAN ASTANEH-ASL
Ph.D., P.E., Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, 781 Davis Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 947201710; e-mail: email@example.com; Phone: 5106424528
M.S.E. (1979) and Ph.D. (1982) from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Professor, University of California at Berkeley
American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), Structural Stability Research Council (SSRC), Research Council on Structural Connections (RCSC), Consortium of Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering (CUREE), Advisory Committee AC4 and Technical Committee TC8 of Eurocode Europe, Structural Engineers Association of Northern California, (SEAONC), Structural Steel Educational Council, (SSEC), Committee on Design of Blast-Resistant Steel Structures (AISC)
Page 108 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 PROFESSIONAL REGISTRATION:
Registered Professional Engineer, P.E. (California)
Winner of 1998 T.R. Higgins Award, American Institute of Steel Construction
Has taught courses since 1982 on Engineering Mechanics, Static, Design of Steel Structures, Advanced Steel Design, Design of Steel and Composite Structures, Inelastic Behavior and Plastic Design of Steel Structures, Comprehensive Design of Structures. He has also taught a number of short courses to professionals on design of structures and earthquake engineering particularly on bridges to Caltrans engineers and others.
MAJOR RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS DURING LAST FIVE YEARS:
1. ''Tests of Critical members of the Golden Gate Bridge,'' (Funded by Golden Gate Bridge), 9596.
2. ''Shake-table Tests of Computers with and without Support Restrainers,'' 9697.
3. ''Cyclic Behavior and Seismic Design of Steel Piles,'' (Funded by Caltrans), 9698.
Page 109 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 4. ''Nonlinear Analyses of the Suspension Spans of the Bay Bridge,'' (Funded by LLNL & UCB), 9598.
5. ''Seismic Behavior and Design of Shear Connections,'' (Funded by FEMA/SAC), 9798.
6. ''Cyclic Tests and Seismic Design Provisions for Steel Shear Walls,'' (Funded by GSA), 99101.
7. ''Cyclic Tests of Traditional and Innovative Composite Shear Walls,'' (Funded by NSF), 98present.
8. ''Testing and Studying Blast-Resistant Structures,'' (Funded by GSA and AISC), 97present.
9. ''Studies of Collapse of the World Trade Center,'' (Funded by NSF), 01present.
Has published more than 150 papers, reports and other publications on the behavior and design of steel structures subjected to seismic, gravity and blast loads.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, Dr. Astaneh, and I especially appreciate your very specific recommendations. Dr. Bement. Doctor, microphone, please.
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STATEMENT OF DR. ARDEN L. BEMENT, JR., NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY
Dr. BEMENT. Got it, I think. Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Hall, and, Members of the Committee, thank you for this opportunity to testify on this role in the investigation into the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.
The collapse of these towers was the worst building disaster in human history. Engineers, emergency responders, and the Nation did not anticipate, and were largely unprepared, for such a catastrophe.
Shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center, NIST's building and fire researchers began assisting Federal and local agencies in many ways to investigate the spread of fire through the buildings and their subsequent collapse. Using preliminary information from videos of the attack, our researchers were able to use previously developed computer models to simulate the spread of fire and smoke in the buildings.
At FEMA's request, NIST conducted a comparison and analysis of the current building and fire codes of New York City with national codes. This report has now been submitted to FEMA, and, I believe, it has also been submitted to the Committee.
One of our researchers participated in the initial assessment of the WTC collapse, conducted by the American Society of Civil Engineers, and we are lending our expertise in structural disasters to ASCE and the Structural Engineers Association in New York by storing steel from the World Trade Center at our Gaithersburg headquarters for further scientific study.
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Additionally, NIST is working informally with a coalition of organizations from industry, standards bodies, code regulators, professional groups, and Federal agencies, as well as academics, in an effort to launch a comprehensive, public/private response program to address critically and urgently needed improvements to national building and fire standards, codes, and practices.
The events of September 11 have brought even more focus and priority to this already important issue. As part of this broader effort, NIST recently conducted a 2-day workshop on fire resistance determination and performance prediction that brought together leading international experts and practitioners and academic faculty to define research needs in this area.
And NIST is organizing a workshop later this spring to establish a national plan for prevention of progressive structural collapse. The workshop steering committee consists of leading practitioners and key Federal partners from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the General Services Administration, and FEMA.
NIST has been responsive to all requests for technical assistance. In February, FEMA communicated to NIST its support of a NIST-led technical investigation of the building and fire safety issues related to the WTC disaster under our existing legislative authorities.
As required by our legislative authorities, we have consulted with local officials on a possible investigation and we have received uniform support. Mr. Chairman, at this time, I would like to submit for the record letters expressing support for, and cooperation in, such an investigation from FEMA and the local authorities.
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Chairman BOEHLERT. Without objection, so ordered.
Dr. BEMENT. NIST is currently working very closely with FEMA and the Administration on this investigation since an in-depth technical investigation and broader response program would go well beyond the scope of the building performance assessments conducted by FEMA.
One part of our proposed funding plan for the broader program includes a soon-to-be submitted reprogramming of funds from our NIST-based budget. And it is my understanding that should be on the Hill today. In addition, the President's fiscal year 2003 budget request, a $2 million increase, will go toward this effort.
The NIST-proposed investigation would examine the building construction, the integrity of the materials used, and the technical conditions that combined to cause the World Trade Center disaster. Our efforts would involve the participation of technical experts from industry, academia, and other laboratories, as well as liaison with federal, state, and local authorities.
The steel currently stored at NIST could provide useful information to evaluate the quality of steel used in the construction of the buildings, to determine the maximum temperature reached by the steel in the region of severe fires where collapse initiated, and to identify the possible mechanisms of failure based on visual observations of failed components.
The results from the proposed investigation would be extremely valuable, but they are meaningless unless we take the knowledge gained and put it to practical use. That is why NIST is working with FEMA in the private sector on the broader effort that I mentioned earlier.
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Specific improvements to building and fire practices, standards, and codes can only be identified if we are able to determine the exact sequence of events that led to the progressive collapse of the buildings and the associated loss of life and injuries.
Fire played a critical and visible role in the collapse of the WTC buildings and contributed to the Pentagon's damage. Current building design practice does not consider fire as a design condition. We now have the capability to simulate building fires on the computer to explain critical events and outcomes to an extent previously not possible.
In short, we could provide the technical basis and guidance for fire safety design and retrofit of structures, the predictive tools and test methods for fire-resistance determination, and the performance criteria for fireproofing materials. In addition, there are many critical gaps in our understanding of human behavior, protection, emergency response, and mobility as they relate to fires and other similar disasters that could also be addressed.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I would be pleased to respond to questions from the Committee.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Bement follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF ARDEN L. BEMENT, JR.
Good afternoon Chairman Boehlert, Ranking Member Hall, and Members of the Committee. I want to thank you for this opportunity to testify on the investigation into the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers. The tragedy that the United States experienced on September 11, 2001, was unprecedented when compared with any prior accident, natural disaster, or terrorist/war attack. The collapse of the twin World Trade Center towers was the worst building disaster in human history. Engineers, emergency responders, and the nation did not anticipate, and were largely unprepared for, such a catastrophe. Among other national needs, these events highlight the following technical priorities:
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To establish the probable technical causes of the collapses and derive the lessons to be learned;
To develop and disseminate immediate guidance and tools to assess and reduce future vulnerabilities; and
To produce the technical basis upon which cost-effective changes to national practices and standards can be developed.
Shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center, NIST's building and fire researchers began assisting federal and local agencies in many ways to investigate the spread of fire through the buildings and their subsequent collapse. Our researchers used previously developed models along with preliminary information from videos of the attack and other sources to simulate the spread of fire and smoke in the buildings. At the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), NIST conducted a comparison and analysis of the current building and fire codes of New York City with national codes, and we contributed to the Army Corps of Engineers' study of the structural and fire damage to the Pentagon. In addition, NIST experts participated in the initial assessment of the collapse conducted by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Coalition that comprised a Building Performance Assessment Team (BPAT) funded by FEMA. The ASCE Coalition Team also included professional members of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), and the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY). NIST is lending its expertise in structural disasters to ASCE and the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY) to store WTC steel at its Gaithersburg, MD, headquarters for further scientific study.
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However, more needs to be done. A growing number of technical experts, industry leaders, and families of victims are pressing for a broad-based Federal investigation to study the building construction, the integrity of the materials used, and all the technical conditions that combined to cause the building disaster at the World Trade Center [Witness would like to submit for the record, letters received supporting a federal investigation]. NIST has begun working informally with a coalition of organizationsrepresenting key industry, standards, codes, and professional groupsin an effort to launch a comprehensive public-private response program that includes such an investigation. NIST is also working very closely with FEMA, since an in-depth technical investigation would go well beyond the scope of the building performance assessments conducted by FEMA following major disasters. The implementation of the results of such an investigation would be critical to restore public confidence in the safety of tall buildings nationwide, enhance the safety of fire and emergency responders, and better protect people and property in the future. To cite one example, the February 4th issue of ''Crain's New York Business'' reports that an increasing number of tenants are leaving the Empire State Building, which is again the tallest building in New York City, because of fears of another terrorist attack. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that building vacancy rates have doubled in Manhattan, despite the 15 million square feet of space that was lost on September 11th.
NIST has received policy approval from the Secretary of Commerce to initiate and, after consultation with local officials, to conduct an independent and comprehensive ''National Building and Fire Safety Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster'' under NIST's existing legislative authorities (15 U.S.C. 281a). Among Federal laboratories, NIST is uniquely qualified to conduct such a comprehensive investigation. The Building and Fire Research Laboratory is the foremost fire research laboratory in the United States, and through the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) NIST is the principal agency for research and development to improve building codes and standards. NIST has extensive experience and expertise in conducting disaster investigations following structural/construction failures, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes. These have included the well-known investigations into the 1981 collapse of a walkway in the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel, the 1986 Dupont Plaza Hotel fire in San Juan Puerto Rico, the 1994 Northridge earthquake collapses, and the 1995 Kobe, Japan earthquake building collapses, to name just a few. In compliance with statutory requirements NIST has already consulted with local authorities in New York, including the Port Authority of NY & NJ, the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management, the New York City Department of Design and Construction, and the Fire Department of New York. These organizations have expressed support for NIST and agreed to cooperate in it's investigation.
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The proposed investigation would involve world-class experts from industry, academia, and other laboratories to complement NIST's excellent in-house technical expertise. Supplementing the outstanding work done through the building performance assessment team initially assembled through FEMA, NIST would delve deeper into the factors related to the collapse. NIST would use the results of the soon to be released ASCE Coalition team's study as a valuable source of input into the investigation. The objectives of the NIST investigation would be to determine technically:
Why and how the World Trade Center buildings collapsed following the impacts of the planes;
Why the injuries were so high or low depending on location, including all technical aspects of fire protection, response, evacuation, and occupant behavior and emergency response;
Whether or not state-of-the-art procedures and practices were used in the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the World Trade Center Buildings; and
Whether there are new technologies or procedures that should be employed in the future to reduce the potential risks of such a collapse.
The NIST investigation would focus primarily on World Trade Center Buildings 1 and 2 (the Twin Towers) for several reasons. First, the collapse of the Towers was the triggering event that caused much of the collateral damage to the adjacent properties. Second, many structural and fire protection design features and construction details found in the Towers are widely used in the building construction industry. Third, to study procedures and practices used to assess the safety of innovative structural systems and building designs not covered by existing building codes or prior in-use experience as was the case of the twin towers, and whether such practices are adequate to detect and remedy inherent vulnerabilities. Fourth, to study procedures and practices used to provide adequate structural reserve capacity to resist abnormal loads (e.g., blast, explosion, impact due to aircraft or flying debris from tornadoes, accidental fires, and faulty design and construction), especially those that can be anticipated prior to construction (e.g., impact of a Boeing 707). Fifth, the Twin Towers would provide the opportunity to study the effectiveness of fire protection and firefighting technologies and practices for tall buildings, including emergency mobility and egress, and communication systems. And lastly, the analytical tools used in these investigations would be experimentally verified and widely applicable to other building types. Besides the Towers, the investigation would possibly consider examining WTC Building 7, which collapsed later in the day.
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NIST would use an open and inclusive process in formulating its work plan for the investigation. This would involve the participation of technical experts from industry, academia, and other laboratories as well as liaison with federal, state, and local authorities. NIST would expect to complete its investigation and issue a final report in 24 months.
The results of the proposed investigation would be extremely valuable in establishing the probable technical causes of the disaster and deriving the lessons to be learned, but it would be meaningless unless we take the knowledge gained and put it to practical use. That is why NIST, in partnership with FEMA and a number of private sector organizations, has developed a broader response program. This broader program would address critically and urgently needed improvements to national building and fire standards, codes, and practices that have begun to be recognized in recent years. The events of September 11th have brought even more focus and priority to this already important issue.
The goal of this broader program would be to produce cost-effective retrofit and design measures and operational guidance for building owners and emergency responders. The program would develop and disseminate guidance and tools to assess, and produce the technical basis and recommendations for cost-effective changes to reduce vulnerabilities.
Over the course of the proposed investigation and broader program there would be a number of short-term and interim work products that would provide guidance, tools, and technical assistance to better prepare facility owners, contractors, designers, and emergency personnel for future disasters. Some of these products, based on prior NIST work, would be disseminated broadly as soon as possible. Others that need further refinement would be disseminated within a year, and the rest after the completion of the investigation. I would like to note that the President's FY 2003 budget request for NIST contains a $2 million funding increase, which will go towards this effort and related research.
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Let me now give you three examples of work that would be accomplished through this broader program.
First, fire played a critical and visible role in the collapse of the WTC buildings and contributed to damage to the Pentagon buildings. Current building design practice does not consider fire as a design condition. Instead, structural fire endurance ratings are prescribed in building codes using standard tests on individual components. The current testing standards are based on work carried out at NIST in the 1920s. They do not represent real fire hazards in modern buildings. They also do not consider the fire performance of structural connections or of the structural system as a whole, or the multiple performance demands on fire proofing materials. NIST now has the capability to simulate building fires on the computer to explain critical events and outcomes to an extent previously not possible. The proposed work would expand on this core competence in computational methods, and adapt measurement techniques and test methods to support the prediction of performance of building materials, products, structural elements, and systems up to the point of the collapse of a tall building due to fire. In short, NIST would provide the technical basis and guidance for fire safety design and retrofit of structures, the predictive tools and test methods for fire resistance determination, and the performance criteria for fireproofing materials. In addition, NIST proposes to develop guidance and retrofit technologies to enhance building egress in emergencies, practical tools and guidance to enhance the safety and effectiveness of fire and emergency responders, and improved models of occupant behavior and response to enhance evacuation and communication in emergencies.
Second, progressive collapsewhich refers to the spread of failure by a chain reaction that is disproportionate to the triggering eventwas also responsible for the extraordinary number of deaths in the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. Yet, the United States has not developed standards, codes, and practices to assess and reduce this vulnerability. Adding to the problem for modern structures is their smaller margin of safetyand the reserve capacity to accommodate abnormal loadsdue to increased efficiency in the use of building materials and refinements in analysis techniques. The work carried out at NIST in the early 1970s continues to provide the basis for the extremely limited guidance that is available in current United States standards. NIST would develop cost-effective solutions to reduce building vulnerability to progressive collapse using a multi-hazard approach that exploits synergies in resisting extreme loads from blast, impact, earthquakes, and fires.
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Third, vulnerability reduction of commercial and institutional buildings and facilities. The overwhelming majority of buildings in public use today are vulnerable to terrorist attack on a number of fronts. Most lack state of the art sensing and information management systems. Few have electronic representations of the building documents or models, and standards do not exist for such representations. Most are not protected against chemical, biological, and radiological (CBR) threats. While efforts are underway to protect military buildings through Department of Defense's ''immune buildings'' program, there are no standards and practices for civilian buildings. NIST proposes to work with the DOD to develop guidelines and advanced technologies to reduce the vulnerability of such buildings to CBR attacks. NIST also proposes to work with industry to develop standards for building information models and information exchange, and practicable tools for helping building owners make reasoned economic choices in reducing the vulnerabilities of their buildings.
The final program element supports a construction-industry-led roadmapping effort to reflect changed priorities for development and deployment of safety and security standards, technology, and practices. It would also support the delivery and dissemination of practical guidance, tools, and technical assistance to better prepare facility owners, contractors, designers, and emergency personnel to respond to future disasters and to speed economic recovery within the industry following disasters. The effort would complement and support parallel efforts of technical organizations to improve standards, codes, and practices.
In conclusion, I believe it is imperative for the U.S. to learn from the worst-ever building disasters in human history and take aggressive remedial action to minimize future losses. As the events of September 11 demonstrated, the very stability of U.S. commerce and our economy depends upon major buildings and critical facilities that provide a key part of our Nation's physical infrastructure. In the wake of September 11th, the private sector's willingness to take necessary corrective action to strengthen building codes and standards is extraordinarily strong. So with the envisioned Federal technical leadership and partners from the private sector, changes can be made to minimize the likelihood and consequences of future disasters. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would be happy to take questions from the Committee.
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BIOGRAPHY FOR ARDEN L. BEMENT, JR.
Arden L. Bement, Jr., was sworn in as the 12th director of NIST on Dec. 7, 2001. Bement oversees an agency with an annual budget of about $812 million and an on-site research and administrative staff of about 3,000, complemented by a NIST-sponsored network of 2,000 locally managed manufacturing and business specialists serving smaller manufacturers across the United States. Prior to his appointment as NIST Director, Bement served as the David A. Ross Distinguished Professor of Nuclear Engineering and head of the School of Nuclear Engineering at Purdue University. He has held appointments at Purdue University in the schools of Nuclear Engineering, Materials Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering, as well as a courtesy appointment in the Krannert School of Management. He was director of the Midwest Superconductivity Consortium and the Consortium for the Intelligent Management of the Electrical Power Grid.
Bement came to his position as NIST Director well versed in the workings of the agency, having previously served as head of the Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology, the agency's primary private-sector policy adviser; as head of the advisory committee for NIST's Advanced Technology Program; and on the Board of Overseers for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.
Bement joined the Purdue faculty in 1992 after a 39-year career in industry, government, and academia. These positions included: vice president of technical resources and of science and technology for TRW Inc. (19801992); deputy under secretary of defense for research and engineering (19791980); director, Office of Materials Science, DARPA (19761979); professor of nuclear materials, MIT (19701976); manager, Fuels and Materials Department and the Metallurgy Research Department, Battelle Northwest Laboratories (19651970); and senior research associate, General Electric Co. (19541965).
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Along with his NIST advisory roles, Bement served as a member of the U.S. National Science Board, the governing board for the National Science Foundation, from 1989 to 1995. He also chaired the Commission for Engineering and Technical Studies and the National Materials Board of the National Research Council; was a member of the Space Station Utilization Advisory Subcommittee and the Commercialization and Technology Advisory Committee for NASA; and consulted for the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and Idaho Nuclear Energy and Environmental Laboratory.
He has been a director of Keithley Instruments Inc. and the Lord Corp. and was a member of the Science and Technology Advisory Committee for the Howmet Corp. (a division of ALCOA).
Bement holds an engineer of metallurgy degree from the Colorado School of Mines, a Master's degree in metallurgical engineering from the University of Idaho, a Doctorate degree in metallurgical engineering from the University of Michigan, and a Honorary Doctorate degree in engineering from Cleveland State University. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, Dr. Bement. And thank all of you. And the Chair is going to be somewhat arbitrary in the initial round of questioning, restricting, including the Chair, to five minutes, and then we will have a second round and as many rounds as are necessary.
Mr. Shea, in your statement, you said rightly so that FEMA's singular goal in the immediate aftermath of the attack was to support local jurisdictions in the rescue of trapped firefighters and workers. Nothing had a higher priority.
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Mr. SHEA. Right.
Chairman BOEHLERT. And I can certainly understand that. But can you explain why the BPAT team was not able to enter the site until October, even though volunteers were at the site almost immediately and the ASCE team was in place within days? Why October?
Mr. SHEA. Perhaps, the best way to do thisDr. Corley, maybe you can help explain why we were there in October.
Dr. CORLEY. Yes. I can add some information to that. The team, as it was officially put together, indeed, did not get to the site until October. However, as early as the Saturday after the attack, we had at least three people who, at that time, were on our team, on-site, in connection with the search and rescue, and they were beginning to collect information at that time.
Chairman BOEHLERT. But mostly observing. I mean, the most important thing going on right then was the search and rescue effort, but there was no organized effort to gather evidence, if you will. And I know there is some dispute between you and Dr. Corbett in your statements where you say the investigation or the review has not been compromised because of so-called lost evidence, and Dr. Corbett feels it was. In fact, it seems to me an inordinate amount of time before the BPAT team was in there really doing something. A couple of people there is not what I would consider the type of response necessary.
Dr. CORLEY. Yes. Well, those people were, indeed, collecting very vital information to us. But the reason that we were unable to get in until that time was that the combination of the search and rescue and the criminal investigation were the things that we understand, at least, were preventing us from getting access.
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Chairman BOEHLERT. Well, they were more of observers. They didn't have badges. They weren't there in any official capacity that anyone could identify. Butwell, that is something we are going to
Mr. CORBETT. Yes.
Chairman BOEHLERT [continuing]. Talk more about. And, incidentally, these questions todaywe are not going to get to all the questions obviously, and we are determined to be as thorough as possible. Soand this is not coming out of my time because I am making this observation from the chair. But we are going to follow up with very specific questions and we want specificity in your responses in a very timely manner. We are all very serious about this. And our objective is not to point fingers at anyone. Our objective is to get to the bottom of it and to make certain we do what is necessary to prevent something like this from ever happening again.
Dr. Bement, you know, why did NIST play initially, at least it appears to us, sort of a passive and minor role in getting on with the investigation? Is it because there is no clear definition of who has responsibility for what?
Dr. BEMENT. Well, I take your question as support for the fact that we should do this investigation, except we should have done it sooner, perhaps.
Chairman BOEHLERT. I agree. And I agree.
Page 124 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Dr. BEMENT. The role of NIST is somewhat circumscribed by statute. We
Chairman BOEHLERT. And where things are circumscribed, we are going to make it crystal clear
Dr. BEMENT. Thank you.
Chairman BOEHLERT [continuing]. So there is no doubt in the future.
Dr. BEMENT. We have anxiety about that. As a matter of fact, we have been a very strong advocate for this establishment of a National Construction Studies Board that would operate very similar to a National Transportation Studies Board that would overcome some of the deficiencies in being able to carry on the timely investigation that you are talking about. And we, at NIST, would be very happy to work with the Committee in developing that policy.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Staff has just pointed out to me that very specifically in the law, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, on its own initiative, but only after consultation with local authorities, initiates and conducts investigations to determine the causes of the structural failures and etcetera, etcetera.
Dr. BEMENT. That is correct. But we will work with you. As a matter of fact, acting on that authority, I requested the reprogramming action that is coming up to the Hill now to provide the funding to continue the work that we are currently doing. Also, during the months of November and December, we did have numerous meetings with authorities in New York to do just what this authority requiresconsultation with the local authorities. And the letters that I submitted for the record are in response to those meetings and those understandings.
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We felt it was very important early to get full concurrence and full cooperation because of the vital information that is held by the Port Authority, by the designers of the building, and other sources of vital information. So we have been marshaling that support.
Chairman BOEHLERT. You know, one of the things that really bothers me is we don't have a system in place where there is immediacy to get a team onsite, not to interfere in any way, shape, or manner with search and rescue, because that is the most important
Dr. BEMENT. Right.
Chairman BOEHLERT [continuing]. Activity of allbut a team onsite to immediately begin to have a video and oral history of what happened and when it happened. And I noticed in some of the testimonyand I have spent hours reading all the testimony, because I want you to know thisI am not the only onewe are all very serious about this mission.
Dr. BEMENT. Right.
Chairman BOEHLERT. But I noticed the networks have been asked to cooperate, and they have been, but slowly. And as we are assembling this whole record of what happened in the filmbut wouldn't it seem to make sense that we have somebody, whether it is in the NIST shop or FEMA shop, or somebody, a team of people immediately onsite at a disaster, particularly one of this magnitude
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Dr. BEMENT. Yes.
Chairman BOEHLERT [continuing]. To start recording?
Dr. BEMENT. I fully agree.
Chairman BOEHLERT. And so that we don't have Dr. Corley and Dr. Corbett at odds some time in the future as we are conducting this review. Dr. Corley says he doesn't feel the investigation was compromised because we have enough steel. A lot of people say a lot of that steel is gone. We don't have the evidence we need to investigate to know what happened and when. But if we had that immediate team of people
Dr. BEMENT. Right.
Chairman BOEHLERT [continuing]. With a video and oral history of it being recorded, that would
Dr. BEMENT. A video record would have beenor a photographic record of some of these pieces would have been terribly important.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Yeah. Listen, I could occupy this whole morning and this whole afternoon, and this whole week with questions, but my time has expired. We will have another round. Mr. Weiner, you are next.
Page 127 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. WEINER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I have a question for the Panel. Will the person who is in charge of the investigation raise their hand? [ ] Well, that was two hands and one flinch. Who is
Dr. BEMENT. Oh. No. I
Mr. WEINER. Oh. That is a third hand.
Dr. BEMENT. I have authority for the investigation.
Mr. WEINER. Okay. And, Dr. Astaneh, why do you raise your hand if he is in charge? Yes, sir.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Dr. Astaneh, do you want to respond?
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. I thought you asked, raise your hand if you areyou were investigating?
Mr. WEINER. No. I want to know who is in charge. Where does the buck stop on this panel on this investigation? Oh, no one. Yes, sir. Okay.
Dr. BEMENT. No. It depends when you ask your question or when you reference your question. NIST operates under the Federal Response Plan where we provide technical support to the emergency agencies that have responsibility for the emergency. This would be FEMA, primarily, and the Corps of Engineers
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Mr. WEINER. Dr. Bement, if you will forgive me, I have a very brief amount of time. Are you in charge of the investigation in to why the World Trade Center collapsed?
Dr. BEMENT. I now have authority to conduct this investigation. Yes.
Mr. WEINER. Okay. Is that as ofas of when?
Dr. BEMENT. Well, as of the concurrence of FEMA and the approval of the Secretary of Commerce.
Mr. WEINER. Okay. So if you are in charge, are you in power to sequester evidence?
Dr. BEMENT. Not under subpoena. But
Mr. WEINER. Are youall right. That was going to be my next question. Are you in power to issue a subpoena requiring that someone turn over a building plan?
Dr. BEMENT. Not at this time.
Mr. WEINER. Are you in power to require someone to provide information if they might have it?
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Dr. BEMENT. Not under any mandatory conditions, but we can request and
Mr. WEINER. Do you have the ability to visit Ground Zero this morning, point to a piece of steel and say, I need you to save that?
Dr. BEMENT. I can do that. Yes.
Mr. WEINER. You have the power and the law to do that?
Dr. BEMENT. I think I can do that now. Yes.
Mr. WEINER. I am sorry.
Dr. BEMENT. I think I can do that now.
Mr. WEINER. Do you need to check with a member of your staff? I mean, what do you mean, you thinkcan you orit is not athis is an easy part, I thought.
Dr. BEMENT. Well, as I said, I don't have subpoena authority and I have to work through FEMA. And I don't have control of the site. So I have limited
Page 130 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. WEINER. Has anyone
Dr. BEMENT [continuing]. Authorities
Mr. WEINER. Dr. Bement, has anyone
Dr. BEMENT. And, incidentally
Mr. WEINER. Yes.
Dr. BEMENT [continuing]. Just to take a second, again, we have to operate under the concurrence of local authority.
Mr. WEINER. Well, I recall being inon Beach 130th Street in Rockaway watching the National Transportation Safety Board point to pieces of evidence, say to the local law enforcement, don't touch this or it is going to be a felony if you do. Do you have that authority?
Dr. BEMENT. That is exactly the authority I am asking for in
Mr. WEINER. Okay.
Dr. BEMENT [continuing]. Establishing the National Construction Safety Board that would have the same authorities as the National Transportation Safety Board.
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Mr. WEINER. Well, as you heard in my opening statement, I concur.
Dr. BEMENT. Right.
Mr. WEINER. Can I ask members of the Paneland I am not sureperhaps, Dr. Corbettif you were to look at a piece of steel that was affected in a catastrophic way, do we have the scientific ability to draw conclusions about what caused that piece of steel to fail? Dr. Corbett, I think I would address it to you, sir.
Mr. CORBETT. Okay. Yes. I think we do. As a matter of fact, I know we do. And that is
Mr. WEINER. And might that piece of information be helpful in building future buildings?
Mr. CORBETT. Certainly.
Mr. WEINER. Would memberswould you, Dr. Corbett, in looking at a bunch of steel that, to me, just might look like twisted steel, be able to say that given where this was in the building or what kind of a joint it was, this is more important than that?
Mr. CORBETT. Yes.
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Mr. WEINER. Is anyone onhas anyone on the panel been offered the opportunity to go take a look at the steel that came from that site to say, I want to study this one? This one is less important. Has anyone on the Panel, by a show of hands, had the ability to do that? Dr. Corleythe steel that is being recycled now by the City of New York, which is about 80 percent, according to what I have been toldhas that steel all been looked at by a member of a panel or a committee that is studying the causes of this disaster?
Dr. CORLEY. Not all of it has been looked at.
Mr. WEINER. Are you concerned that what Dr. Corbett has just said to me, that you can look at a piece of steel, draw conclusions about it, and help prevent future accidents, that we have now lost, irrevocably, the opportunity to draw those conclusions?
Dr. CORLEY. With that steel that has been recycled, we have lost any opportunity to do that, however, we have identified a large number of pieces of steel that will provide us with that type of information.
Mr. WEINER. And if I could ask one further question, because now the yellow light is on, to Dr. Bement. You said that we have the capability to determine the impact of heat on structural failure in buildings.
Dr. BEMENT. That is correct.
Mr. WEINER. If we had done that type of analysis before September 11, could we have drawn some conclusions about how long a building would withstanda building like the World Trade Center, would withstand the amount of heat and energy that was let loose in that building?
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Dr. BEMENT. In
Mr. WEINER. Could we have said
Dr. BEMENT. In principle, yes.
Mr. WEINER. Okay. So we could have said, and had written down somewhere, that someone could have checked or referred to, you know what, this building has, based on this amount of energy being released, about four minutes.
Dr. BEMENT. That is correct.
Mr. WEINER. Okay. Do you believe that if we had that information before September 11, some of the people that are sitting behind you would not have lost loved ones?
Dr. BEMENT. Perhaps. Yes.
Mr. WEINER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you. The gentleman's time has expired. Dr. Bement, when did the transition occur? When was the torch passed? InitiallyI mean, we agree that in the final analysis, NIST should have the responsibility and you should have the resources to do what we expect you to do, but we were not aware that the torch had been passed from FEMA, which has first responsibility. When did this occur?
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Dr. BEMENT. We have been in continuing consultation with FEMA over the pastwell, since the event, as a matter of fact. And we have had discussions on how best NIST could serve in carrying out this investigation. And we have asked for concurrence, not only from local authorities, but also from FEMA. And you will note from their letter they have supported our investigation. So we feel we have their complete support and authority to carry out the investigation.
Chairman BOEHLERT. But you are now officially in chargedoes FEMA agree with thatofficially in charge of the review and the preparation of the report?
Dr. BEMENT. Well, I would say that we are operating as if we are in charge, and I assume that we are in charge.
Chairman BOEHLERT. But does FEMA agree?
Mr. SHEA. Mr. Chairman, I think the situation, to state it factually, is that we have a responsibility with FEMA to continue on through the production of this Building Performance Assessment Team report, which is scheduled for April. The results of that report, and, of course, the National Institute of Standards and Technology is a member of the team, will then be transmitted to NIST for their further examination. But they are currently partnering with us on that effort.
Chairman BOEHLERT. But would youI mean, I think it is fair to say that for several months it has been uncertain who was clearly in charge.
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Mr. SHEA. I think that is an accurate statement.
Chairman BOEHLERT. And I think it is also fair to acknowledge that this is unprecedented.
Mr. SHEA. Uh-huh.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Well, Mr. Shays.
Mr. SHAYS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And before you hit the dial, I would love to just, on behalf of Connecticut and New Jersey residents, just say that we, in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut all felt the impact of this. And the district I represent is 25 to 50 miles away. We have guests in our audience who lost loved ones. Some grandparents were lostparents, children, husbands, and wives. And we could see the smoke from our district and turn on our TV and see our loved one and neighbors enclosed, encased in a building they couldn't get out of, that imploded before their very eyes. And I just, on behalf of them, thank you for having these hearings.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you, Mr. Shays. And now
Mr. SHAYS. I
Chairman BOEHLERT [continuing]. The clock will start running.
Page 136 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. SHAYS. Thank you. I am kind of taken back by what has been said today and also by the excellent questions of Mr. Weiner. He is probably speaking a little loudly and a little quickly because he has five minutes, but his points are, I sayI think, tell it all. I am taken back, Mr. Shea, by your comment that no one thought these buildings would fall. And the fact that no one thought they would, but they did, would seem to me to be the very reason why we would have an investigation.
I am taken back by the fact that Dr. Bement said it is the worst building destruction in human history. So
Dr. BEMENT. That is correct.
Mr. SHAYS [continuing]. You know, it is like nothing else needs to be said other than to wonder why this didn't happen sooner. And we all can look at ourselves, Members of Congress, we were probably too focused on how do we deal with this war on terrorism to deal with the mundane things that needed to be dealt with right away.
I am interested to know why these buildings imploded rather than toppled? I am interested to know if they had toppled, would there have been a domino effect and would one building have triggered the fall of another and triggered the fall of another. And, to me, these seem like very valid questions that have to be answered. And I am interestedyou focusedDr. Astaneh, you focused on the structure of the steel and didn't mention the fire, and, Dr. Bement, you basically focused on the fire. Just with the structure of the steel without the fire, would this building ever collapsed?
Page 137 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. No. In my opinion, the reason for collapse of building was because of the softening and weakening of the steel after the impact was done and the fire was going on.
Mr. SHAYS. But you showed the building when you took the plane away, but showed the damage, and you showed that basically some of the steel was just shot.
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. Yes. But these structurescertainly these structures, the World Trade Center, were designed in a very redundant way, which means if you take many members out, still the remaining members can redistribute the load and carry the remaining the load. So even if you take a few columnsin this case, maybe 30 percent, 40 percent of columns were lost on one face of the building, the remaining columns were able to carry the load. If we did not have the fire, the buildings would have stood up as they did for one hour.
Mr. SHAYS. When wewhen I was elected in '87, when Stewart McKinney passed away, at that very moment in time, we had the collapse of a lift-slab structure in Bridgeport, and it imploded. You know, one floor came down and then the others came down. Why didn't this building topple? And if it had toppled, would it have potentially knocked down other buildings?
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. The collapse that you mentioned, as well as collapse of World Trade Center, the eventual cause of most collapses is the gravity. Buildings are standing up because we have supports under the floors and floors are supported on the columns. As soon as you remove the support, the gravity does the final damage and pulls the building down. In this case, because the fire damaged the columns and floors and softened them, the gravity is the cause that collapsed. That is why it imploded and came down.
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To answer your question about whether or not it could be toppled, my own feeling initially was, and it still is, that they may have tried, these terrorists, to actually topple the buildings, which would have been a disastrous event, toppling those structures on the World Tradeon the Wall Street area.
But the structures were designed for a very high level of storm, very high level of force, and 707
Mr. SHAYS. Thank you.
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL [continuing]. Airplane.
Mr. SHAYS. Dr. Corley, do you agree with that?
Dr. CORLEY. Yes. Dr. Astaneh is correct in what he said, that it is the gravity that is the primary cause.
Mr. SHAYS. Is there ever a concern about a domino effect?
Dr. CORLEY. In most buildings, no. In low buildings, in very high seismic regions, you may have enough lateral load resistance in the building that they can topple. And I have seen a few buildings do that in very high seismic zones. These buildings generally will start to topple over, but then gravity will take over and come down. Building #2 did, in fact, lean a fair amount before it came down.
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Mr. SHAYS. Just very quickly, my last question. Mr. Shea, I noticed you getting a little uneasy when Mr. Weiner was asking questions as to whether Dr. Bement had the authority or not. And I was uneasy watching you
Mr. SHEA. Okay.
Mr. SHAYS [continuing]. Frankly, because it does strike me that six months after the fact there shouldn't even have been any doubt. I mean, obviously, we have to deal with some statutory responsibilities and authority, but it sounds to me like you had the ability to give him power and he says he took it and accepts it. But why wasn't it clear?
Mr. SHEA. Well, let me, if I can, try and characterize that for you. From thefrom day one, from the date of the disaster, when the President declared the disaster, FEMA had, and we undertook, our responsibilities to conduct a building performance assessment. But I think the question was different. The question was, who had the authority to investigate. We do not have authority to investigate. We do not have analogous authority to the NTSB or the FBI or other law-enforcement types of agencies.
What we did, and we continue to this day, to have the authority to carry forward with the Building Performance Assessment Team. And it is when that report is completed in April that we intend to, in effect, pass the baton on.
During the entire period of time, however, the American Society of Civil Engineers to the National Institute of Standards and Technologythey have all been partners in that effort. So if I was acting uncomfortable, it was because I was concerned about the way the questions were being phrased versus the answers.
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Mr. SHAYS. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you. And, Mr. Shea, you have given a compelling argument for the need for an immediate development of a protocol so that we know clearly who is in charge.
Mr. SHEA. Yeah.
Chairman BOEHLERT. That is absolutely essential. And the immediate question I haveit appears that FEMA didn't talk to city officials about preserving or documenting the steel that was being removed from the site. Or at least, the city says FEMA never talked about it, which leads us to the Corley versus Corbett debate on what evidence was lost and how important it is to the overall investigation.
Does FEMA play an active role in facilitating the investigation? It seems to me you do. So
Mr. SHEA. Well, clearly, in terms of facilitating any assessment of the activity, the answer is, yes, we do play a very pivotal role. Onsite, we have a Federal coordinating officer and a disaster field office operation. They do interface on a daily basis with most state and local government as part of theany effort that goes on at the disaster site.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Didn't someone initially feel that allwith all this debris being hauled awayand we understand the necessity of doing thatbut didn't someone think in terms of the investigation that would be conducted and the need for that material to be evidentiary?
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Mr. SHEA. I think the answer is, yes, Chairman Boehlert. The day after the event, we began those discussions with the American Society of Civil Engineers and our prime contractor, Greenhorn and O'Mara to field a Building Performance Assessment Team on the ground. So the answer is, yes. I mean, we were considering it immediately in the aftermath.
Chairman BOEHLERT. We have beenand I have read all this testimony and talked to a lot of people, and, more importantly, listened to a lot of people.
Mr. SHEA. Yes.
Chairman BOEHLERT. And the three impedimentsand Dr. Astaneh pointed them outthe access to the site, the access to the material, and the blueprints. And it was like four months after before anybody got the blueprints. This is a learning exercise
Mr. SHEA. Absolutely.
Chairman BOEHLERT [continuing]. And we are all learning from what happened.
Mr. SHEA. Yeah.
Chairman BOEHLERT. And it is unprecedented, I understand. And we don't mean to assume an adversarial role. We are all in this together. We are not here, you know, sparring with you. We are just trying to get to the facts to know what we need to know so that we will know what we need to recommend so that something like this, one, will be prevented, but, two, if it happens, we will have the response capability that we need.
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Just before I go to Mr. Weiner, just let me ask youoh, who is that? Oh, Mr. Israel, you are next. I am sorry. Yeah. Weiner is sort of my buddy here. But do you feel, Mr. Shea, and do you feel, Dr. Bement, that you have the resources you need, to this juncture, to do what is expected of you? I know there are going to be requests for additional funds
Mr. SHEA. Uh-huh.
Chairman BOEHLERT [continuing]. But I want to make certain that nothing is being impededno progress is being delayed because you don't have whatever you need. Do you feel that FEMA has the resources it needs to do what you are expected to do right now?
Mr. SHEA. The answer is, yes. But I think it also needs to go back to some of the other issues that you have raised, Mr. Chairman. The issues that we are now looking back on that I think this Committee is trying to address this afternoon, do need to be addressed as part of an overall strategy that the Federal Government will undertake. It is my opinion, based on my experience, that that is properly then vested in the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the kinds of authorities that Dr. Bement has outlined to you this afternoon.
In terms of conducting our business, what we were undertaking with the Building Performance Assessment Team, yes, we have sufficient resources to do that.
Chairman BOEHLERT. And how about you, Dr. Bement?
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Dr. BEMENT. Well, there are three phases to this overall study, which, by itself, is going to take almost 24 months. There is a preliminary stage, in which we have been active. At the present time, we have the resources necessary to set the stage and get the necessary concurrences and to also obtain the materials that are available for metallurgical examination and forensic study. This is a study in itself, and Dr. Corley's estimate of what the resources require for that study are very close to the mark.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Where do the resources come for Dr. Corley's study? Does it come from FEMA?
Mr. SHEA. They were a combination of resources that the American Society of Civil Engineers put into the process
Chairman BOEHLERT. Right.
Mr. SHEA [continuing]. Along with funding from FEMA.
Chairman BOEHLERT. All right. So you haven't had to put any resources into the BPAT yet. You have participated
Dr. BEMENT. No. I am talking about resources that would have to support the consortium that NIST is organizing at the present time to carry on the full-scale study that we have been talking about. Those recommendations have gone up to the highest level of the Administration and I am very optimistic that it will be resolved very quickly.
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The third phase, which will go in parallel with the investigation itself, is to take the lessons learned and provide the technical basis for changes in codes and standards, not only for existing buildings, but for new construction, to provide better security for occupants, to provide better egress, to provide better structural integrity under these types of impacts. In addition
Chairman BOEHLERT. But there are going to be requests, obviously, but youbut the bottom line is, you feel you have what you need in terms of resources. I mean, transferability
Dr. BEMENT. I don't think we have slowed down. We have got a team going. We have been coordinating with FEMA and other agencies. I think we are ready to go and I think the original
Chairman BOEHLERT. And there will be no hesitancyno hesitancyto request additional resources.
Dr. BEMENT. No hesitancy. That is correct.
Chairman BOEHLERT. All right. That is good.
Dr. BEMENT. And, furthermore, I would say that we will build on the current BPAT study, which will be issued in April.
Page 145 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Chairman BOEHLERT. April.
Dr. BEMENT. And we have some of the results already, so we canyou know, as I say, we can
Chairman BOEHLERT. But you are not waiting for that study to
Dr. BEMENT. We are not waiting for that study.
Chairman BOEHLERT. All right. Fine. Mr. Israel.
Mr. ISRAEL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to follow up on some of these questions regarding the resources that have been made available for these studies. To the Chairman's question, Mr. Shea, who used to be in charge of the investigation, said, we have enough. Dr. Bement, who I understand is now in charge of the investigation, says, we may have enough, depending on these phases. Dr. Corley says we need $40 million, and until we have $40 million, it is not enough. Can somebody explain to me exactly what it is going to take to do the kind of study we need to do to make sure that this doesn't occur in the future? Let us start with Dr. Bement.
Dr. BEMENT. Well, I think Dr. Corley was estimating what the cost of a study of this type would require. And, as I say, he is pretty close to the mark. We have developed
Page 146 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. ISRAEL. 40 million?
Dr. BEMENT. I won't put a number on it just yet.
Mr. ISRAEL. But the mark, I believe, is 40 million. What is close to the mark?
Dr. BEMENT. That was his estimate.
Mr. ISRAEL. Okay.
Dr. BEMENT. I am just saying it is not too far out of the ball park.
Mr. ISRAEL. Okay.
Dr. BEMENT. We willwe are working on a funding plan and that will come forward very quickly. As far as the investigation, it is a question of what you mean by the investigation. If you are talking about the technical investigation, which NIST is proposing doing, I am operating on the assumption that I have adequate authority to begin that technical investigation.
If you are talking about broader issues, with regard to responsibility and other ancillary items surrounding the World Trade Center collapse, which we are not going to be involved in, that is not in our camp at the present time.
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Mr. ISRAEL. Dr. Bement, you had stated that, at this hearing, that NIST has received policy approval for this study. What does policy approval mean?
Dr. BEMENT. It means that under 15 U.S. Code, Paragraph 281(a), which the Chairman referred to, it gives us the authority to, on our own initiative, but only after consultation with local authorities, we may initiate and conduct investigations to determine the causes of structural failures that
Mr. ISRAEL. Dr. Bement, I am sorry. I also have limited time. I am getting kind of a bureaucratic response. What does policy approval mean and how much is it going to cost to do what you have to do?
Dr. BEMENT. That is our policy approval right there. That gives me the authority
Mr. ISRAEL. To do
Dr. BEMENT [continuing]. With consultation and with adequate resources, to carry out the investigation.
Mr. ISRAEL. Okay. Adequate resources. Dr. Corley, what does $40 million get us that we are not getting right now?
Dr. CORLEY. The work that would be done with the $40 million would be to follow up on the many recommendations that will be coming out in our report where further study and, in some cases, research programs are needed to get answers to the questions. It would cover the issues of protection of the emergency response teams, as well as structural and fire issues.
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Mr. ISRAEL. So you believe that the expenditure of $40 million would cover virtually everything we need to know about what went wrong and prevent other things from going wrong in the future.
Dr. CORLEY. Well, with any research you never know what you are going to find, so there may be things that would require more than that. But this is what I would judge is needed at this point.
Mr. ISRAEL. That is your benchmark. And Dr. Bement has said that you are close to the mark. And my final question to Mr. Sheacan you tell us approximately how much FEMA has expended up to this point
Mr. SHEA. Our
Mr. ISRAEL [continuing]. On the investigations?
Mr. SHEA. Yeah. Our investment today is about $600,000.
Mr. ISRAEL. $600,000.
Mr. SHEA. Right.
Mr. ISRAEL. And we need to get to 40 million.
Page 149 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. SHEA. Right.
Mr. ISRAEL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you very much. The Chair will now yield to Dr. Ehlers, who is going to assume the Chair momentarily, for his questioning.
Mr. EHLERS [presiding]. I never realized one could become chairman of this Committee that quickly. It is a pleasure to have you all here. And I want to pursue the line of questioning that you just heard. Youas I understand, when you say policy approval, Dr. Bement, that means you also have the authority to spend the money needed to do it. Is that correct?
Dr. BEMENT. I have no statutory authority to spend that kind of money at the present time.
Mr. EHLERS. Okay. Then the next question is, where is the money going to come from? And thatlet me also say, Mr. Shea, I am going to hit you on this too. We are talking $40 million. That is not justthat is not just the study. That is also following up, as you said, Dr. Corley. And I presume by that, that means follow-up studies on determining the nature of progressive collapse, which was responsible not only for the towers collapsing, but I understand also for a good deal of the damage done in the Oklahoma City disaster as well.
Now, does your estimate of $40 million, Dr. Corley, include further studies on progressive collapse, further studies on fire damage to steel structures, and so forth, or is that not part of your recommendation?
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Dr. CORLEY. Yes. That would include all of the subjects that I have mentioned, plus those that have been brought up in the other testimony.
Mr. EHLERS. Well, I personally think that is money well spent and the Nation, as a whole, would save a lot of money if that is done. The question is, where is the money going to come from. I know, Dr. Bement, because I have jurisdiction over NIST in my Subcommittee, you don't have the money to do it.
Dr. BEMENT. That is correct.
Mr. EHLERS. Now, Mr. Shea, you have a substantial amount of money, which was given as part of the money that the Congress approved last year, to deal with it. How much of your money are you dedicating to this effort, both the initial work and also the ongoing study? In other words, do you have enough money to fund the $40 million that we are talking about here?
Mr. SHEA. No. The direct answer is, we do not. The funding that was provided to us is really for the relief of victims and for rebuilding the community and to pay for police, fire, that kind of thing. The Stafford Act would not encompass these types of long-term studies. And if we were to undertake them like anybody else in the Federal Government, we would have to go through a process with the Administration to request them.
Mr. EHLERS. So you have no funding for research.
Page 151 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. SHEA. Well, realistically, we have some small pockets of funding that relate to flood-related issues, seismic-related issues, dam safety issues, but those are all very specifically authorized kinds of things that we do. The amount of funding there is relatively small comparatively speaking.
Mr. EHLERS. And where did you get the money for this initial study that has been done?
Mr. SHEA. The initial assessment comes out of the disaster relief fund because it is, again, scope-limited. It is important to understand, the whole effort is designed to provide a basis for rebuilding with mitigation incorporated as part of that overall mitigation process, rebuilding process, so that it is part of the overall relief and recovery effort.
Mr. EHLERS. But you have asked NIST to take over the formal investigation, but you are not sending the money along with that request. Is that what you are saying?
Mr. SHEA. Well, we think it is an excellent idea to have an investigation, a longer-term investigation of these issues based on our experience in these areas. But, no, we would not send funding to go with it.
Mr. EHLERS. However, if the Congress madepassed the provision that part of that $6 billion you received could be used for that, would you send the money along with it then?
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Mr. SHEA. If Congress and the Administration agreed on a principle like that, then, sure. I mean, absolutely. Yes, sir.
Mr. EHLERS. Okay. That is certainly one solution. IDr. Bement, as I said earlier, I know you don't have the money, and that is not quite accurate. You do have it, but it would do incredible damage to NIST if all of that money came out of your budget. And so, clearly, the money has to come from somewhere.
Dr. BEMENT. Right.
Mr. EHLERS. Is the Administration considering at all including this as part of its supplemental request to the Congress, which I understand is coming out in a week or two?
Dr. BEMENT. I believe that is a consideration. Yes. I can't say that that is the avenue they will finally decide on, but I know that they are considering that.
Mr. EHLERS. And, Mr. Shea, pinning down a little more, when you say you have no authority, are you talking about no statutory authority or no budget authority to send money at this point and demands as well?
Mr. SHEA. Thewe do not have statutory authority to conduct these types of investigations. And obviously then, we wouldn't have the intended resource base associated with that.
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Mr. EHLERS. And NIST has a statutory authority, but you are saying not the budget authority at this point.
Dr. BEMENT. The mechanism that is in the statute is deficient in terms of providing the funding and providing the mechanisms to get an appropriate response, technical response, on the site immediately. And
Mr. EHLERS. So I have
Dr. BEMENT [continuing]. We have covered that ground.
Mr. EHLERS. I have a couple of worries here. First of all, there is a lot of this going on in terms of funding, and we and the Administration have to come to some agreement on where the money is going to come from. My other concern is involving the academic community, which you see represented here and which has a very good background. The National Science Foundation actually was the first on the ground with investigators and has done this regularly in cases like this.
I am very concerned that we, as an Administration and a Congress, provide sufficient funds for NIST to do what it does so extremely well. But I think it is also important that we provide funding for the university community
Dr. BEMENT. I agree.
Page 154 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. EHLERS [continuing]. To participate. Now, that either would come through NSF. Or I understand, Dr. Bement, you also can give grants to
Dr. BEMENT. Well, we will bring universities into our study and
Mr. EHLERS. You will include that
Dr. BEMENT [continuing]. We will fund that work. Yes.
Mr. EHLERS. And that would be part of your funding as well.
Dr. BEMENT. That is correct.
Mr. EHLERS. All right. I think we have clarified that problem, but it is clear that we have to do more work on it, otherwise we will have grand plans for grand studies and not only in finding out what happened here, but also how to prevent it in the future, both in terms of fire and progressive collapse damage. And if we are not carefuland by we, I include the Congress and the Administrationit just won'tit won't be done. So I hope that all of us in Congress will keep everyone's feet to the fire and make sure we get this job done. I
Dr. BEMENT. Thank you.
Mr. EHLERS [continuing]. Yield back my time. Next, we call on Mr. Etheridge from North Carolina.
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Mr. ETHERIDGE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And let me thank you and the Chairman of our Committee for having this hearing that is so important, not only to the people in New York, but the people in this country, and I think ultimately around the world, because this iswe have seen a lot of things happen. And I think it is not only important just to the families of the victims of the 9/11 tragedy, but it is important to all of us to learn as much as we can at this date about the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings.
Aside from withstanding enormous wind loads, the World Trade Center towers were also constructed to withstand sediment loads. Because the towers, as you know, I don't need to remind any of you, were built on a landfill. And it went down and they had to go down and do bedrock and all the stuff that took place. As I remember, it was about 70 feet below ground level, I think, that it wound up going down.
Although the towers were, in fact, designed to withstand being struck by an airplane, no one ever envisioned what ultimately happened on September the 11th. They weren't able to survive the effects of a direct hit with all the gasoline. And I know you have been talking about that already with the collapse of floors and the pancaking, etcetera. And I, like others, have been there and was horrified at what I saw.
In trying to comprehend how this happened, that the loads just collapsed, is there any reason to have concern on how other tall buildings are constructed in this country and the safety of the people that are occupying them? Who would like to take that on?
Mr. SHEA. Congressman, I am not an engineer, and I am probably the only person at this table that isn't an engineer, but I would say the answer to your question is, yes, there should be some concern. And I think the notion of a longer-term investigation should help answer some of those questions about whether and what we can do about that. But, again, I don't think we have the answers this afternoon.
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Mr. ETHERIDGE. Anyone else?
Mr. CORBETT. Yeah. I think that the critical point here is that there are other high-rise buildings in this country and we need to understand exactly what happened at the World Trade Center and learn from it and apply it to other buildings. I mean, this is a fireyou know, planes hit the building, but it was a fire that brought it down
Mr. ETHERIDGE. Absolutely
Mr. CORBETT [continuing]. And we need to understand that.
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. One of the important things is that until now, structures are designed by structural engineers. Then they are passed to fire engineers to design the fireproofing, but there is no interaction. I think it is very important that for the future we come up with joint work of the fireproofing engineers as well as structural engineers. And I think the NIST plan is very good in that sense, that it will bring in fire engineers and structural engineers.
But to answer your question directly, I think, yes, we have a lot of concerns about all other tall buildings.
Mr. ETHERIDGE. Thank you. One additional question if I may, because that brings on the second questionwith all the different agencies we now have looking at it, and as we go forward, because I remember in your earlier testimony, as you were talking, almost each one of you were talking about data that may have been lost because of a number of issues not having been protected, etcetera, because we have so many involved. What are we doing now to protect that data? And what are we doing to lay out a plan so that weGod forbid we should ever have something like this againat least we have got a plan in place so that, number one, we protect the integrity of the information, but, number two, we have got a plan working to make sure that we don't have the kind of problems we have had with this one?
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Mr. SHEA. Congressman, I will attempt to begin the answer to that question. TheI guess I would point out a couple of things. One is, FEMA is working with the team from the American Society of Civil Engineers to preserve whatever data is available. And that is, in fact, also being shared with the National Institute of Standards and Technology. As was testified earlier, they are receiving some of this steel that was called as part of that effort.
Further, FEMA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology have begun discussions of a preliminary mechanism by which we could do better in the future, in a Memorandum of Understanding about a quick response mechanism. But I think there is a more fundamental question here about how do we effectively coordinate all the science-based agencies in responding to events of this kind? I am not sure we have the answers to that this afternoon, but I think it is a fair issue for the Committee to address.
Dr. BEMENT. Representative Etheridge, I would answer this waythat that clearly is part of our investigation. We don't have to wait until the end of the investigation to have findings and recommendations with regard to those aspects. And we would certainly consult with this Committee very quickly once we have such a plan in hand.
Mr. ETHERIDGE. Thank you. And Iif I may, Mr. Chairman, I would encourage you to move along, to work through your associations and others, because as other buildings are being built, it seems to me to be most appropriate to work through every avenue we have to not only shore up the ones we now have, but those that are being built, for safety and for fire safety as well. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
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Chairman BOEHLERT [presiding]. Thank you very much. Mr. Grucci.
Mr. GRUCCI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for convening this hearing today. The information has been pretty helpful so far. I have just been listening to the debate going back and forth about the dollar values for the study. Is it enough? Isn't it enough? Who has it? Who doesn't have it? And I hope that we can work that out very quickly.
But, Mr. Sheaand this is not an attack against you. It was just something that I heard in your statement early on, when you indicated that it will take years to complete these studies. And I would encourage all that is inthat is going to be part of this is that, we can't wait years. There are people out there who need answers now. Not only those that are sitting in this room, but the thousands of others whose lives have been torn apart as a result of this tragedy.
In addition to those folks, I know that this Congress won't wait years. I know this Congressperson won't wait years. We want answers. We need answers. And we would hope and encourage you all to move quickly in this. Let us weed through who doesn't have and who does have the authority and let us all get on the same team to get to the end results. Because, as Mr. Etheridge said, there are buildings going up that can use the benefit of the knowledge that will come out of theseout of these hearings and come out of the study that you will do.
If you need money, I can't promise that you will get it all, but I can promise you that we are going to be here to work with you to get this thing resolved. Because, as the Chairman said, this is not an attack against you. We are all here to work together.
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My question goes pretty much to trying to at least assemble in my mind what happened from what I am hearing today. In gleaning through the information that you all provided in your testimony and I, too, have had the opportunity to read it, one thing came clear to me that it wasn't the elongated fire from the fuel of the jet planes that created the extreme heat that, indeed, may have had or may not have had direct results on the tinsel strength of the steel causing the building to collapse.
Because, as I understood it, from my reading, the jet fuel probably burnt off between 10 to 15 minutes after the impact of the jet into the building. What caused the intense heat and the massive fires was that jet fuel, as a first fire, causing the rest of the floors where that jet fuel came into contact with to catch fire and desks and chairs and rugs and whatever else may have been in the building, then started to burn as the fuel. And I understand that there was a fair number of floors that were involved with that.
The question that I have is that if, indeed, it was not the jet fuel that was the main culprit, and that it did, indeed, burn itself off in a reasonable timefast enough where it didn't affect the strength of the steeland that the secondary fires caused the problem, why wouldn't the fire suppression system that should have been, or was in the buildingI shouldn't say should have beenit was in the buildingwhy didn't they function on the floors that may not have come into direct contact with the jet craft that may have taken out the pipes and the suppression systems? And I thinkwell, whoever wants to try to answer that, please do.
Dr. CORLEY. Okay. I will take the first stab at that. That it is our belief that the water source for the sprinkler system was compromised and there was no water that was supplied to the system after the planes hitnothing above the floors that were hit.
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Mr. GRUCCI. But the floors beneath where it hit would still have had water.
Dr. CORLEY. They would have had water, but there was really no firewell, there was only a small amount of fire there. And some of those fires were controlled even with hand-held fire-fighting equipment.
Mr. GRUCCI. And so the fires that were the secondary fires, if you will, as a result of the jet fuel, were on the floors above where the plane impacted.
Dr. CORLEY. Yes. That is correct. At the floor and above.
Mr. GRUCCI. I wouldwhy wouldn't it haveI was always under the impression, listening to the stories and reading in the papers, what you can glean from that, is that the jet fuel migrated its way down through the building, through the corridors, through the elevator shafts, through whatever orifice was in the building to allow the fuel to migrate down. How did it go up?
Dr. CORLEY. Well, to answer the first part of that question, yes, there was some fuel that went down, but those fires, based on the photos we have, did not spread widely. Theysome of them were put out by people on those floors. The fire abovefirst of all, the plane took out parts of the floors and opened up the building, knocked out a lot of the windows, so that the fire could go up thefrom floor to floor that way and there probably was damage to the floors that also allowed it to progress up through the building.
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Mr. GRUCCI. And so the suppression systems then did work for the floors beneath it.
Dr. CORLEY. There was probablywell, yes. There was not a great deal of fire beneath the areas where the planes went in, as far as we can tell.
Mr. CORBETT. Just to add a couple of comments. As far as the
Mr. GRUCCI. Yeah. If you would
Mr. CORBETT [continuing]. Suppression systems go, it is very likely that when the plane went through the buildingwe certainly know it took out the stairwellsand that is where the supply pipes for the sprinkler systems are located. So it just sheared right through them. So that would have allowed basically a flood of water to come out.
As far as lower incidents within the building, we do know thatactually, I have a student in one of my classes that is a security guard in Tower 1, and was there when the jet fuel came down the elevator shaft and blew off the doors and started a fire down there. I know from another person that I know that is an architect, and went through the lobby and saw the sprinkler system actually going off in the lobby and was wondering why, and I think that is probably the answer to that.
Page 162 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Chairman BOEHLERT. The gentleman's time has expired. The Chair wouldthe intention of the Chair is as follows. We have 12 minutes to go in terms of the current vote, and there is only one vote, so we will have to recess briefly. The Chair will recognize Mr. Israel for one minute to make an announcement and then Mr. Larson for his questions, and then we will temporarily recess to go over to answer the vote, and then we will be right back.
Mr. ISRAEL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And, Mr. Chairman, let me again thank you for your bipartisan leadership in bringing us to a focused and sensible approach to this issue. One recurring theme is what we are going to invest as a Nation in the type of evaluation that is going to improve the safety of both the public and emergency responders in the event of another building collapse.
Dr. Corley estimates a total of $40 million. Dr. Bement says that he is near the mark. NIST has asked for $2 million, or allocated $2 million. FEMA has already expended about half a million dollars. We want to support your efforts. We want to make sure that you have everything you need so that we can evaluate and make sure that this doesn't happen again.
In that vein, I am pleased to announce that under the Chairman's leadership, Congressman Weiner and I have cosigned a letter to Budget Director Mitch Daniels, asking him to provide you with all the funding that you require for the type of comprehensive evaluation that is going to make sense. Again, Chairman Boehlert has signed this letter. Congressman Weiner has signed the letter. And I would invite all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to cosign this with us. This is, once again, going to be an issue of budget priorities, and I can think of no more important budget priority than to spend what is needed to evaluate and make sure
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Chairman BOEHLERT. And I would encourage all of our colleagues to sign that letter.
Mr. ISRAEL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you very much. The Chair recognizes Mr. Larson.
Mr. LARSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And let me add to the chorus of those thanking you for conducting this hearing. And let me also second the proposal of my colleague and join in the signing of this, and commend the Skyscraper Safety Campaign for their efforts here. And point out, as my colleague from Connecticut has, the number of people from Connecticut in the audience today, and specifically Monica Gabriel, who lost her husband, Richard, at the World Trade Center.
The questions that have been raised by my colleagues, I think, draw down to a specific point. I believe it was Thomas Friedman who indicated that since thewhen we look at the tragedy of September the 11th, and we look at what happened, in many respects it was a failure of imagination. And a failure of imagination that evolves around a sense that sprung up an American government of stove-piping. Stove-piping amongst agencies is so much so that even, as Mr. Weiner and others have asked their questions today, the American public has to look at a specter of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing.
Now, obviously, there is plenty of blame, I guess, that could be goingthat can go around. And our object here is not to lay blame, but to get to answers and solutions. But at the heart of my concern is one that has been raised, I think, by a number of people. And that is that since September 11, perhaps, we know more than we have, but we are no better prepared to address the concerns of the future. And we are no better prepared because of these turf battles and the stove-piping that persists.
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So my question is, in generaland the President, and I believe wisely so, has appointed Tom Ridge, the Head of Homeland Security. And as we look to specific appropriations, and as we look, and has been cited here frequently, for specific statutory authority, do we need one central clearinghouse? The dominant theme amongst every group that I have spoken to since September the 11th, is the need for commonality of communication, interoperability, and the ability for onsite control.
In your estimationand I know this isyou are at the beginning processis that what this Nation needs to move forward and how do we? And how are you going to be successful in all the information that you are gathering if you can't overcome those hurdles? And I will start with you, Dr. Bement.
Dr. BEMENT. I think there does have to be a central authority that can go in and carry out an investigation and can sequester all the evidence that is necessary to carry out that investigation immediately after the collapse occurs or whatever the event is.
Mr. LARSON. Do you think that Mr. Ridge should be that authority? Do you think that we should have someone andthat can bring all the Federal agencies and state agencies and local municipalities to focus and bear on this issue?
Dr. BEMENT. Well, I wouldn't want to say that that would be the only way it could be done, but certainly it ought to be considered.
Mr. LARSON. Dr. Corbett.
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Mr. CORBETT. It is certainly an answer to that question. Iwe need it. We don't have it right now. We don't have a coordinated response to disaster investigations in my opinion.
Mr. LARSON. What would be the best place for that to reside? Would it be
Mr. CORBETT. Well, I suggested FEMA because they have a responsibility for disaster response and mitigation, and mitigation is what we are talking about heremitigating the future, mitigating issues that perhaps we are going to find in other high-rise buildings.
Mr. LARSON. Mr. Shea.
Mr. SHEA. My reaction is that the best way to approach this is to vest that authority and responsibility in a single Federal agency. In this case, my testimony is that would be the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Mr. LARSON. So thenand would someone from the National Institute of Standards and Technology want to respond?
Dr. BEMENT. I think that
Mr. LARSON. And this is what the American public sees. It is
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Dr. BEMENT. No. Let me give you a direct response to your question. I think where it comes to structural collapse and anything that brings together fire and structural collapse, and NIST would certainly be an appropriate agency to have that responsibility directly, as long as all the mechanisms are in place. And if we can set up the necessary board structure so that all the parties that might be involved, including local and state authorities, can be on the scene immediately, and that there are necessary subpoena powers in order to gather information and
Mr. LARSON. We have a very serious problem here. And it seems to me, every time we discuss thisand there is increasing frustration in Congress at all levelsthat when we talk to the bureaucracy responsible for this, we get the Abbott and Costello line of who is on first?
Chairman BOEHLERT. The gentleman
Mr. LARSON. And it just goes on and on and on.
Chairman BOEHLERT. The gentleman's time has expired. In all fairness, I think it is very importantand this Committee prides itself on working togetherit is very important to understand and appreciate that this is something unprecedented in the history of mankind. And what we are tryingthere is clear authorityif there is a hurricane, if there is a flood, if there is an airplane crash, there is clear authority for various agencies to commit. This is something where we are sort of plowing new ground. And it is very important, as the testimony indicates, that we design a protocol so that we will know instantly if something, God forbid, like this ever happens again, we have got people onsite, in charge, action initiated.
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With that, the Chair recognizes Ms. Morella, and she has four minutes and 40 seconds before we have to go vote.
Ms. MORELLA. Thank you. Okay. I will talk really fast.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Uh-huh.
Ms. MORELLA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for this hearing. And I do want to also reflect the fact that to the families of the victims who are here, I offer my condolences and prayers. And this is one of the reasons why we had this hearing. Thank you, gentlemen, for your presentations. And I know the Chairman will allow us to submit some questions to you too, because we have more questions that we haven't gotten to.
I wanted to pick upDr. Bement, I know you are getting a lot of questions here, and, welcome, at the helm of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. But some of the
Dr. BEMENT. Thank you.
Ms. MORELLA [continuing]. Important research that has been mentioned here today is going toit seems to require a large-scale testing facility. To what extent are NIST laboratories equipped to do that kind of work, to carry on that kind of work? In other words, are you going to need some additional facilities for this and, if so, what will their capabilities be and, you know, what would theywhat would it cost?
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Dr. BEMENT. Well, as you know, this is an unprecedented event.
Ms. MORELLA. Yeah.
Dr. BEMENT. It is probably the first time thaton this scale, structural dynamics and fire dynamics have come together to create an initiating event that created a catastrophe. That is an area where we do need to do research. We need to do research at an appropriate scale so that we can understand the fire response of building materials and building structures. And I can say that we do not have that kind of a facility at the present time.
Ms. MORELLA. So that is something that we are going to have to factor into what happens after the report, is to look at that.
Dr. BEMENT. Yes.
Ms. MORELLA. Because I certainly don't want to see cannibalization of the other research that is being done, you know, at NIST. And I know you don't either.
Dr. BEMENT. I appreciate that.
Ms. MORELLA. So, Mr. Chairman, you are going to have to look at the facility for this too after that.
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Chairman BOEHLERT. The angel of NIST has spoken. Are you going to be coming back because we have to take a brief recess now?
Ms. MORELLA. I
Chairman BOEHLERT. Because when we come back, you arethe time will be yours, Ms. Morella.
Ms. MORELLA. Well
Chairman BOEHLERT. But we only have two minutes and 30 seconds. And unless you can run faster than me, we are going to have difficulty getting over there.
Ms. MORELLA. All right. Fine. Thank you. I will try to. If I can't, I will submit some questions.
Chairman BOEHLERT. And I should have mentioned previously
Ms. MORELLA. Thank you.
Chairman BOEHLERT [continuing]. That after the opening statements by all the witnesses, the statement for the Skyscraper Safety Committee will be in the record for all to see and to consider. We will take a brief recess. We will get back as quickly as can. You can have a pause, a break, in the act.
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Chairman BOEHLERT. This hearing will resume. Members are making their way back from the Floor. The Chair is pleased to recognize Ms. Sheila Jackson Lee for five minutes.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I want to add my appreciation to you for holding this very important hearing. I don't think any of us who live in communities, regardless of whether they are urban or rural, could express ourselves in watching the tragic incidences of September 11. And to be able to find solutions, I think, is a key element to what this hearing is all about.
Having visited Ground Zero in the early stages and knowing what my New York colleagues have been through and how much they have fought so hard for finding a remedy to September 11, I think this hearing may begin to be part of the healing. And I, too, offer my deepest sympathy, and, as well, expression of concern to those who were victims of that terrible and tragic day. To the families, I expressly offer my deepest sympathy.
I realize that we have had a long hearing, but I am looking at today's New York Times article. And in reviewing this article, I am noting in particular that the first paragraph announces the adoption of new national standards for the construction of public and governmental buildings, to make them more resilient or resistant to catastrophic failures in the event of terrorist attacks. It notes that the leader of the investigation into the World Trade Center's collapse, and the director of the Federal agency that evaluates major fires and building failures, are calling for such standards.
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Now, I have listened to my colleagues. I have reviewed some of the testimonies in terms of the presented testimonies. I do apologize for being at another hearing at the same time. But I want to pointedly ask the question. Based upon this article, is it true that we are calling for the adoption of such? And are you advocating for these standards to be federalized, as many of us realize that we have little input at this point?
I would also like to find out how does the present standards systems or the present system work and who is responsible for oversight and implementation. I am also aware that there are many private groups or societies of engineers and others that have a great deal of impact on the design of buildings. And they also have a great deal, with all due respect to the professions, with interfering with the creation of new standards.
So I guess if I can start with some of the representatives here, Dr. Bement, and, Dr. Corley, are we today, at this hearing, calling for new standards? Have you called for them in this hearing? And are they to be Federal standards? That would be my first. And I have two other questions and I would like toI am looking at the lightbe able to at least have them raised before the time runs out.
Dr. BEMENT. I would say that right now we don't have the technical basis for new standards. We have a compelling incident. The compelling incident has to be backed up with a technical investigation and evaluation. So we need the technical basis that will go to a new standards development.
Now, standards development and code development in this country is done by a consensus process through various code development organizations. And there are at least two organizations, the ICC, and the Federal Fire Protection Agency(see footnote 1), that issues a number of model codes that are used throughout the country by local authorities to fashion their own codes for their own region.
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NIST provides some of the technical basis for those model code developments, but we are, by far, not the only source of technical information that goes into the development of those codes.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. So that wouldn't be you that the New York Times is speaking of, that you were calling for new Federal standards when announcing them today.
Dr. BEMENT. That is correct.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. You believe there needs to be a consensus.
Dr. BEMENT. I believe, first of all, we need to develop the technical basis, and that is the purpose of our investigation. So we will be working very closely with the code development organizations.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Let me ask Dr. Corley then, as my time runs out. Were you prepared to call for new Federal standards today and haverecommend those adoption of such?
Dr. CORLEY. No. I am not. It is premature to call for changes. Once the work that I have referred to that I believe needs to be done has been completed, and as it gets completed, there may, indeed, be things that come up that need to be considered by the standards-writing groups and may change the existing standards through the processes just mentioned. But it is premature at this point to pinpoint any one item and say that this is ready to be changed. And under no circumstances do I feel that the processes that are currently in place should be changed. They work well and should continue.
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Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman, can I raise these additional questions for the record minimally, and maybe someone can give me a yes or no? I think they are quick enough to give me a yes or no.
Chairman BOEHLERT. If you can get the yes or no within the minute.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you so very much, Mr. Chairman. And, Dr. Corley, in particular, you were involved in the Oklahoma investigation, as I understand, and made several recommendations. I guess the question would be, and I imagine the families would want to hear, how quickly government can move. My question is, were those recommendations implemented? That can be a yes or a no. And then, finally, is any recommendation made for improving building codes, emergency responses, and evaluation? Are any of those being made? What are the obstacles to making changes in the codes? I think that needs to be answered today by those who have been victimized by this very tragic incident. Were any of your recommendations taken in? Yes or no?
Dr. CORLEY. The ones we made were, yes.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. They were taken in.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you. The lady has very skillfully
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you.
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Chairman BOEHLERT. All right. The additional time isshe is
Ms. JACKSON LEE. And I will put the other ones in writing, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for your time.
Chairman BOEHLERT. She is very adroit at doing that. And we are going to have another round. So, Sheila, don't go away. We are here to stay. Mr. Smith.
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. Mr. Chairman, and thank you for holding this hearing, and thank the witnesses for being so diligent and patient over the last 2b, 3 hours.
My first questionof course, bin Laden was a construction engineer. And I'm just wondering, Mr. Shea, Dr. Astaneh, or whoever else, I am aas a pilot and talking to other friends that are pilots, wondered at the preciseness of that apparent accidentother pilots and I can agree that these pilots hadwere very good flyers to fly at that speed and hit that target. And I am curious, to makeput it on the record, if maybe it was on purpose, hitting it at that particular height. What would have happened if the plane hit in the top two stories or down in the bottom six stories?
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. If the planes had hit at the upper levels, top ten stories, most likely we would not have this tragedy. I feel that you would have burned floors at the top. You could rescue people underneath and then later cut those floors and have a 100-story building.
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If they had hit the lower part of building, you would not have the collapse again, because the plane could not enter as intact as it did. The columns there are very strong, very thick, and most likely the plane will be shattered, as I showed in my example analysis, and the fuel will be outside.
I don't know if they did it on purpose, but they really hit the worst part where the plane could enter and cause the fire and there was enough weight above the floors that they hit to collapse it under gravity.
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. Would you agree, Mr. Shea?
Mr. SHEA. Yes. Absolutely. There is no question in my mind thatthere was an attempt made on this building in 1993. It failed. They spent the next 8 years figuring out how to do it.
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. I chair the Subcommittee on Research that has oversight for the National Science Foundation. And, Dr. Corley, Dr. Bement, NSF haswell, they have done a lot, with the nanotechnology that we have developed in our research, to help search up there in those facilities. But I am wonderingit is my understanding that NSF now has eight teams out studying. And, Dr. Corley, Dr. Bement, how are the data collected by NSF and these funded researchers being utilized in both of your studies?
Dr. BEMENT. Well, I can answer that they will be fully utilized in our study. Most investigators funded by the NSF would probably show results in the open literature and they would generally make available any of theirthe results of their work. We would certainly want to have the full report
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Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. Well, do you have some process or some organization that you are now inquiring and utilizing that in your studies or is it just going to beis somethingis it in
Dr. BEMENT. No. Our study will be fully inclusive. We will use all sources of expertise that are
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. But you haven't so far.
Dr. BEMENT. We are in very close contact with NSF. And, of course, we are participating in the American Society for Civil Engineering study, the BPAT study, and I imagine that some of the results of the NSF studies are being utilized in that phase of the investigation.
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. Dr. Corley.
Dr. CORLEY. Yes. I mightif I could start by referring to bin Laden. My understanding, his degree is not in engineering and I do not have the opinion that if theif it were studied exactly where to hit it, that he was the one that made the final decision on that. As far as
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. And why is that?
Dr. CORLEY. His degree was not init is in public administration, I believe. He is not an engineer to the best of my knowledge.
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Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. But in terms of you would conclude that it wasn't him that made the decision
Dr. CORLEY. I don't think he would have the knowledge to make that decision. Thein regard to your question about utilization of information, we are utilizing everything we can get our hands on. And the NSF was instrumental in putting together a workshop in December where researchers working on this did exchange information. So we were able to get some of it at that time. And we, of course, look for all the ways we can to get it.
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. Dr. Astaneh, do you agree?
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. I wish we had more cooperation with other teams and utilize our results as well as data. So far I have done my research based on data that I have collected myself and I have not been able to have data from other teams, including drawings and other information that could be very useful to my research.
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. Will NIST be using Dr. Astaneh's steel that he collected as far as the evaluation and analysis?
Dr. BEMENT. We have it now, or at least we have the initial samples. And we have more coming. So I don't know piece by piece whether
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. Just shortlyDr. Astaneh, you had just
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Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. Yes. I hope that therethe studies that NIST is proposing would involve study of pieces that I have collected and others, as well as involvement from whole community of academia who are doing research.
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. Mr. Chairman, thank you. I will look forward to the second round.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you very much. Dr. Bartlett.
Mr. BARTLETT. Thank you very much. Clearly, we need to understand the engineering of what happened here of this failure. I just signed on to a letter asking for additional money so that this can be properly done. I am really somewhat amazed that you were excluded from the site. Clearly, understanding what happened there, so that we could better design buildings and prevent this sort of a tragedy in the future, should have been the prime objective. I hope that you can get the information you need, even though you have been excluded from the site and still haven't got the drawings and so forth.
I would just like to ask a question about where we go from here. Clearly, the most inviting terrorist targets are where there are a lot of people closely pressed together. If it is a chemical attack, the more people that are in close confines, the better. If it is a biological attack where more people are going to be affected. If it is a bomb, the more people are going to be affected. If it is an event like this, the more people are going to be affected.
In today's world with mass communication, with computers, with teleconferencing, this information travels, what, 186,000 miles a second. It doesn't take very long to get from Manhattan to a corn field in Omaha. Help me understand why it is a good idea to build more skyscrapers that are just more inviting targets for terrorists? Yes, sir.
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Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. I think it is the human spirit.
Mr. BARTLETT. If you are building them for pride of ownership, I understand that. It is the equivalent of going to the moon and I understand that. But in terms of being concerned about protection of people and fighting terrorism and so forth, Iyou know, I justI am having some problems understanding why bringing more people together in close confines and building skyscrapers, with all the communication techniques now, wethat started when we didn't have the communication capabilities we have today. I am having trouble understanding why it is a good idea to keep on building skyscrapers.
Dr. CORLEY. If I may respond briefly to that, it is myand this is a personal opinionthe city is not a city without tall buildings. If you have all one-story buildings, all you have is urban sprawl. You have no city.
Mr. BARTLETT. Washington is not a city?
Dr. CORLEY. But Washington does have some tall buildings
Mr. BARTLETT. Not very tall buildings.
Dr. CORLEY. So my belief is that it is appropriate to design the tall buildings. And I would also point out that it is not just tall buildings that are the target. The Pentagon was not a tall building.
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Mr. BARTLETT. That is correct. And the damage inflicted by the plane that hit the Pentagon was orders of magnitude less than the planes that hit those buildings, simply because it was not a tall building, which makes my argument that I am having some trouble understanding why it is a good idea to build more tall buildings. Yes, sir.
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. And may I add one comment? What we have done is we have gone up and up over the last century or so without looking into the fact that you cannot expand everything without limit. There is a size effect in everything, in all our engineering work, that when you get to a certain size, you have to change the concept that you are using. We have, unfortunately, added up these floors without looking at the fact that you cannot reach the upper floors for fire fighting and you cannot really protect them against airplanes and other objects. I think it does not answer your question directly and I apologize for that. But I think what we are missedand did not pay attention is that, in our effort to build tall buildings, we have not paid attention to protecting them.
Mr. BARTLETT. I am personally uncomfortable in a building that can't be reached by the longest ladder on a ladder truck. I know that you rely on other things in those tall buildings. But, you know, I am stillyou know, repeat my initial question. This isour society has been changed. The world we live in has been changed.
And I would submit that one of the things we ought to consider is whether it is, in fact, a good idea to build these inviting terrorist targets in the future. They are a good target for biological warfare. They are good targets for chemical warfare. They are certainly good targets for bombing and this sort of thing. And I am justyou know, we just need to stop and rethink what we are doing, and is that the right thing to be doing in the future? And I would question whether building more skyscrapers is, in fact, in our national security interest in the future. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
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Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you very much. And we are welcoming, as a guest in the Committee, but an interested guest, Mr. Crowley of New York.
Mr. CROWLEY. First, let me thank the Chairman for allowing me to sit on the Committee today and for holding this hearing. I come to this Committee hearing with mixed emotions because I have over 105 families who lost loved ones on September 11. And we have members of the Ashton family who are here today who lost their son, Tom, at 21 years of age. I also lost my first cousin, Battalion Chief John Moran, and I knew at least seven people intimately, very well. So I have, again, mixed emotions.
But, recognizing the need to hold these hearings, once again, I commend you, Mr. Chairman, for taking on this responsibility. I have a number of questions that I think I would address to Mr. Shea, Dr. Corley, and Dr. Bement firstly. And one, can any one of you gentlemen tell me who was in charge of amassing the steel and other debris as a result from the attack of September 11 on the WTC?
Mr. SHEA. I am not sure I understand fully your question, but
Mr. CROWLEY. In other words, whowhat entity was in charge of collecting the material?
Mr. SHEA. FEMA commissioned the Building Performance Assessment Team, and it was that team, led by Dr. Corley, that would have embraced that responsibility.
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Mr. CROWLEY. Did they determine which debris would be sold off as scrap? And if not, who did?
Mr. SHEA. I willyeah, I will defer to Dr. Corley on that.
Dr. CORLEY. No. We did not determine that. That was determined, I understand, by the City of New York. We
Mr. CROWLEY. When did youwhen did you become aware that the steel from the World Trade Center was being sold off?
Dr. CORLEY. I think it was on the order of a week or so before we arrived on site, on October the 5th, I believe it was.
Mr. CROWLEY. So they weretheyin other words, the city was selling or was disposing of material within two weeks of the actual event, or was it prior to that?
Dr. CORLEY. It may have been prior to that. I am not sure when the first decision was made on that. But I didn't find outwe didn't find out about it until then.
Mr. CROWLEY. Were you disturbed by thatby finding that out? Were you disturbed to find out that the city was actually disposing of or selling off that material?
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Dr. CORLEY. We had previously indicated that we definitely wanted to see the steel and select quantities that were
Mr. CROWLEY. Did you or did FEMA or any other entity actually ask or tell the City of New York to cease and desist from disposing of that material?
Dr. CORLEY. As far as the team is concerned, we made it known that we needed steel. And I don't have any knowledge that anyone had the authority even to ask them to cease and desist.
Mr. CROWLEY. So no one even asked them politely to stop selling what, in all likelihood, could be evidence? Dr. Astaneh.
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. But I believe I was the first one to find out that the steel was being recycled. New York Times Reporter Jim Glanz told me two weeks after the quakeafter the collapse. And I tried to contact the city and also the New York Times reporters tried to make sure we could have access to the steel to do the research. It was not happening. And I went myselfdirectly contacted the recycling plant and made the arrangement. Through their cooperation, I started work there and collected the steel. And later, two weeks later, I believe, the ASCE team came also and they started their work.
Mr. CROWLEY. Now, Dr. Corley, you said that no significant loss occurred, or no significant difference, I think was the word you used.
Page 184 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Dr. CORLEY. Yes.
Mr. CROWLEY. On any outcome that would be determined by the loss of that material.
Dr. CORLEY. That is my opinion at this point. Yes.
Mr. CROWLEY. So you don't believe that there was any material that was lost that was significant that day.
Dr. CORLEY. No. I really didn't say that. What I said was that I believeor what I implied was that we will be able to draw supportable conclusions and analyze the building to understand what happened without the steel that has been disposed of.
Mr. CROWLEY. In my remaining timeexcuse me, doctor. It ismy light is changing here. I just want to emphasize my support of what Mr. Corbett was talking about. I did not know that you were going to make the suggestion today, sir, of a commission. I was prepared to make a statement today that we should ask the President or ask Congress to initiate a commission, similar to what took place after the 1983 and '84 bombings of our embassies overseas, the Inman Commission, to determine what steps are necessary to secure the existing structures, because we can't simply flatten Manhattan or any other major city in this country. We have to deal with the problem because we have major tall structures.
I wouldsecondly, in the construction of future buildings and of future high-rises, suggest that they be made with the proper structure that could withstand a terrorist attack. Let me just say, and, Mr. Chairman, in closing, I am not so sure that this Subcommittee or this Committee can actually get to the bottom of this, which I think is your intent. Ialthough I think that your attempt is going to be admirable. I think we need to do more and let some more academics do this as well.
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But I do believe that conspiracy theorists are going to have a field day with this. They are going to make the Warren Commission look like a walk in the park. And that is unfortunate not only for the Members of Congress who are trying to work on this issue, but for all the families out there that are listening very carefully to what we are talking about today, what these experts are saying. And I just think there is so much that has been lost in these last six months that we can never go back and retrieve. And that is not only unfortunate, it is borderline criminal.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Yeah.
Mr. CROWLEY. And I will yield back with that, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you. And thank you, Mr. Crowley. And the whole purpose of this hearing is to get as much information as we can so that we can be very prudent and very thorough in our analysis and make the appropriate recommendations. Let me point out, in response to your line of questioning, the decision was made by the City of New York to dispose of the material before the BPAT team was even onsite. And I understand fully what the City of New York was doing. Their first interest was the search and rescue operation and they had to get the debris out of the way. And it had a BPAT team, but on site, they would have immediately said, you know, we need this. This is evidence. We need this. This is very important, so get it out of site obviously. We don't want to hamper the researchrescue operation.
But at one time, they were even talking about dumping it into the sea to build a new reef for fish. But, in any event, it just points up to the fact that the material should have been saved. And had there been a timely response of a BPAT team, had we had a protocol in place to get people onsite, we know who is in charge and when, someone would have said that.
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And, Dr. Corley, I must say thisI have never found any instance in this whole aftermath where anyone has indicated that the City of New York, which has been absolutely magnificent, was anything but cooperative. So you may not have had the authority legally to say, hey, listen, don't destroy this stuff. This is very important for evidence in our investigation. I am sure that if someone had said, in a timely manner, we would need this, we request that you save it, and you would have got the same response whether you had the authority or not. They were trying to be as cooperative as possible.
But we have to understand the whole circumstances. The world literally was collapsing around everything. And they were all in thereand everybodyand the FEMA people and the NIST people, when they got onsite, the NSF people, everybody was just trying to do everything they possibly could to tie everything together and to get to the bottom of it and to make recommendations on future actions so that it will never happen again, as much as we can prevent. And we hope and pray every day it never will happen again. So no one here is suggesting that people were intentional in some of their actions that didn't get us where we wanted to get in a timely manner.
But we have got an awful lot of questions and we are determined to continue this probe andprobe isto continue this review to make certain we have good standing to make very specific and very timely recommendations. Who is next? I guessI am next. All right. Well, that is good.
Mr. SHAYS. Time is up.
Page 187 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Chairman BOEHLERT. Yeah. Time is up. Dr. Corley, we understand that the blueprints were finally obtained when members of your team signed agreements with the Port Authority that you would not testify against it in court. And apparently that delayed getting the blueprints in a timely manner. Is this a routine procedure, and can we get copies of these agreements?
Dr. CORLEY. As far as the copies are concerned, I presume that those can be made available. Yes. As a routine, I guess I would have to say that this is the first time that I have signed one like that.
Chairman BOEHLERT. But why did it takewhy did it take so long to sign these agreements and get the drawings?
Dr. CORLEY. The agreements were signed very early. The timing I would have to go back and see exactly what it was. But
Chairman BOEHLERT. But it seems likewasn't it something like four months later before you actually got the drawings?
Dr. CORLEY. That is roughly the way I remember it. I am not sure it is exactly four months, but it is on that order of magnitude of time. Yes. Three-and-a-half, I think.
Chairman BOEHLERT. January 8. Well
Page 188 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Dr. CORLEY. Yeah. January 8 is when we finally got
Chairman BOEHLERT. Well, that is pretty close to four months.
Dr. CORLEY. Yes.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Did FEMA help you in getting access to the drawings?
Dr. CORLEY. Yes. Very definitely they did.
Chairman BOEHLERT. And so you had to intervene. You had to step in.
Mr. SHEA. Yes.
Chairman BOEHLERT. What did you do? Can you tell us?
Mr. SHEA. We called New York City and asked them to release the documents.
Chairman BOEHLERT. And they immediately said yes?
Mr. SHEA. They did say yes.
Page 189 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Chairman BOEHLERT. You meanwhy didn't you just call them? If they immediately said yes to you, why wouldn't they say yes to your designee?
Mr. SHEA. I
Chairman BOEHLERT. And when did you call? YouI mean, can you get that for the record?
Mr. SHEA. Yeah. I can get it for the record. Although ICraig, you made the call. Do you know?
Mr. WINGO. We made a number of calls, I believe, the 20th and 21st of December, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Of December?
Mr. WINGO. Correct. Thursday or Friday.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Why so long?
Mr. WINGO. Well
Chairman BOEHLERT. That is almost 2b months later.
Mr. WINGO. At that particular point in time, we felt that the BPAT team was working in a diligent manner to obtain the blueprints. We recognized that there were possible concerns that the city had legally in a host of other areas. But I will tell you that once we addressed it and focused on it, theythe Port Authority released the plans on December 26.
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Chairman BOEHLERT. Boy
Mr. WINGO. Approximately four or five days after our discussions.
Chairman BOEHLERT. That isI mean, I would hope you would have been working diligently immediately. And Iyou know, and, boy, that is2b months. That is an awful long time. And that is lost time. In the meantime, a lot of the evidence, if you will, the steel, is being dumped someplace, nevermore to be found for oneand I am not suggesting any sinister plots.
And, as Mr. Crowley has indicated, the tabloid press could have a field day with this. We are not interested in providing fodder for them. What we are interested in are facts. Learning from this experience, recommending corrective actions, working in partnership to see that that corrective action is initiated ASAP. All right. What else do we have here?
Oh, yeah. Dr. Corley, you also mentioned in your testimonyI was amazed by thisthat you had some problems getting videotapes from news organizations. Why would they have any problem with giving you videotapes?
Dr. CORLEY. Yes. We did have some problems. My understanding is that the tape that had not been played on the networks was not available to us. Anything that had been played eventually we were able to get access to, which is
Page 191 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Chairman BOEHLERT. But the one that wasn't playedI mean, you had a reason for requesting it.
Dr. CORLEY. Yes. We did.
Chairman BOEHLERT. This is a very important review and investigation. And why wouldn't theyI understand that the networks didn't have some of the tapedtapes on television for all to see because they felt it was not appropriate. Is that your understanding?
Dr. CORLEY. There are morevery likely was tape like that also that they did not feel was appropriate. But my understanding was that what had not been used yet was not available to us. And I
Chairman BOEHLERT. But so what you are suggesting to me that our TV networks were not cooperative in something critically important to the Nation.
Dr. CORLEY. I would say theyI felt that they were cooperative in many, many ways. And they did
Chairman BOEHLERT. Yeah. I understand.
Dr. CORLEY [continuing]. Provide us with lots and lots of material.
Page 192 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Chairman BOEHLERT. And then I applaud them for that and that is wonderful and I think they should as a civic responsibility. But are they going to be selective in what they provide you? Are you going to have a selective investigation review and recommendations? I mean, I would think they would want to be complete. Is there some liability questions or do youwhatwhen you asked for something and they didn't give it to you, what was the reason they gave you for not giving it to you?
Dr. CORLEY. I really did not personally hear those reasons. I simply was told that we would only get the tapes that we got which
Chairman BOEHLERT. Was the request in writing or was it verbal?
Dr. CORLEY. Iit certainly was verbal. And to the best of my knowledge, it was also in writing.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Would you share, for the Committee, for the record, a copy of the written request and also a copy of the written response?
Dr. CORLEY. We can find that information. Yes.
Chairman BOEHLERT. All right. Thank you. Mr. Weiner.
Mr. WEINER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am troubled by what I have heard first and my suggestionmy colleague, Mr. Bartlett, that we shouldn't build upjust build left and right. Perhaps that is true, but I doubt very much there is much demand for skyscrapers in rural Maryland. But I am also surprised by the characterization of the Chairman, however well-meaning, that the city was cooperative. We just heard testimony that the city was the opposite of cooperative. That they had refused to provide basic information.
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And the issue isn't when members of the panel signed a document agreeing not to sue, it is where you get off agreeing not to testify. You are public officials gathering information for the public. You don't own it. You don't have the ability to say I won't use it here. I will use it there. You will use it wherever we say you will use it. If you come before us after looking at these blueprints and you decide that the Port Authority was at fault, and you raise your right hand because the Chairman asks you to, you are going to tell us, I don't care what you sign.
The idea thatand this is a government agency, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. It is not a foreign planet. It is not a private company. These arethis is an organization that is funded with our taxpayer dollars, with our fees when we fly in and out of airports. The idea that they should demand that whatever information is collected should not be held against them, well, that is not, to me, being cooperative.
And let us not kid ourselves. Whenever you ask for it, Mr. Wingo, you aren't going to get it unless the New York Times ran a story on Christmas Day. All right. The truth be told, that if it weren't for the fact that attention was called to this and bright lights were shown on it, they would not have cooperated to this dayI would be surprised if you would have the blueprints that you needed.
And to give you a sense, the importance of the blueprints, so we all understand it, you know, if we are going to do an investigation of the strength and weaknesses of the trusses that firefighters speak so much about, well, you need the blueprints to find out where to even lookwhere do you look in the rubble.
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And the idea that the city was cooperativewell, I am not so sure. You know, the two things are not mutually exclusive. Recovering someone and examining the steel that might have been laying on top of them, are not mutually exclusive. You can do that at Great Kills. You can do that on the truck before it is loaded onto the barge. You can do it on the barge.
The idea that there was some level of cooperation, I have to tell you, the anecdotal record is replete with stories of people having cameras confiscated from them, being stopped at checkpoints. You are officials of the United States Government. The idea that this should have to be a subject of a long negotiation over what information would be at your disposal, to me is most troubling.
But let me just ask one question. Mr. Shea, you got my mind spinning when you said the following. You said, you think that in 1993, after the failure of bombing of World Trade Center, they immediately went to work on some other ways to topple it. Did you?
Mr. SHEA. I am sorry?
Mr. WEINER. You said that in 1993, you believed that bin Laden and the terrorists immediately went to work on trying to figure out how to topple the building
Mr. SHEA. Yeah.
Page 195 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. WEINER [continuing]. Since they failed. Did you? Did you immediately go to work on that? Did you start to contemplate, well, they failed this time. Let us look at why they failed and what we can do to make sure they don't succeed next time?
Mr. SHEA. Now, Congressman, the answer is no and
Mr. WEINER. Did anyone in the United States Government do that?
Mr. SHEA. I have no idea. I do not know.
Mr. WEINER. Mr. Corbett, as an academic, are you aware of any academic studies that were done to say, you know what, they missed, but they only missed by a few inches, or they missed by a mile? Or if they would have done this or that, it might have been cataclysmic? Has anyonedid anyone do the same type of thinking, with all of ourthere is about 150 years of experience in front of usdid anyone do what bin LadenMr. Shea says what bid Laden probably did, which is to say, well, we struck out this timehow are we going to get it right next time? Does anyone do that in the academic world?
Mr. CORBETT. Yeah. We certainly do. There was actually a mitigation reportsurvey team report from FEMA, Document #984-DR-MY, that looked into the issues of the 1993 incident. I don't know what of these issues that were ever applied to the building. I know there were improvements made to the Trade Center, certainly, as far as fire protection.
Mr. WEINER. Dr. Astaneh-Asland I apologize for getting your name wrong.
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Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. Astaneh.
Mr. WEINER. Weiner, Weiner, Astaneh, Weiner, whateverwhatare you aware, sir, of any of the recommendations that were made following 1993 on structural performance that contemplated a large fire in the building?
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. No. But that is because I am not in fire engineering.
Mr. WEINER. No. No. I understand. I just thought inperhaps in your research.
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. But I can comment that after tragedy of Oklahoma City, a large number of research and activity was conducted. I did, myself, quite a lot of studies of how you can prevent tragedies like that and GSA funded and recently finished the development of that.
Mr. WEINER. You know, but it isif you will forgive me, my time is just about expired. But my concern is, the World Trade Centeryou didn't need to have an imagination. You can see they came at us in the World Trade Center and they tried to do something. During the trial it was clearin all the testimonywhat they were trying to do was bring down the World Trade Center. You didn't need to think that far out of the box for someone to sit down at their computer and say, wow, now that we know what their target is, let us figure out whether or not we are safe from those targets and what steps you could take, not just stopping cars from getting into the garage, but figuring out youbecause we might have
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Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. Yes.
Mr. WEINER [continuing]. Stumbled upon information that might have been helpful. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. Yes. There was some activity on
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you, Mr.thank you, Mr. Weiner. Mr. Shays. And I would ask the audience to refrain from any expressions of support or disapproval of somebody's statement. This is a very serious, very important, hearing. And our witnesses are resources for the Committee and they are giving us their best counsel and best recollection. And we are trying all to be involved in something worthy of our best effort. Thank you. Mr. Shays.
Mr. SHAYS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Perhaps, with a few number of members, we could even have a third round. I want to say that one thing I am pretty convinced of since September 11, is there is enough blame to go around for all of us. I mean, we can say what you all should have done and we can say what we should have done. We have been at war with terrorism for 20 years and acted like we didn't know it.
And if we had listed to what some of the terrorists were saying in their native tongues, we probably would have known about 9/11. So I am pretty convinced that we all need to look at ourselves as well.
I am pretty convinced, though, that what I have heard today leaves me less comfortable than before I started the hearing. And it started with Mr. Weiner's question of who is in charge, and I thought I knew. And then I asked one of the staff who I should ask my question to, and they told me the person I thought I should ask, I shouldn't. I was going to ask you, Dr. Bement
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Dr. BEMENT. Bement.
Mr. SHAYS [continuing]. What you wereBement?
Dr. BEMENT. Bement.
Mr. SHAYS. Bement. Dr. Bement, I was going to ask you what you were going to do on all these things. And I realize it is not youit is Dr. Corley that is really doing this investigation. You just want the investigation, but you have $2 million and would like more, and so on. And you want the authority maybe in the future to do hearingdo these investigations. So I have two sides to this. What?
Dr. BEMENT. Let me correct you. We have actually done some elements of this investigation.
Mr. SHAYS. Right.
Dr. BEMENT. And we have done some computer modeling. We have modeled the fire. We have modeled the
Mr. SHAY. Right. But the overall investigation is not your responsibility. It is Dr. Corley's. Correct?
Dr. BEMENT. Ino. I wouldI
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Dr. CORLEY. Yeah.
Mr. SHAY. No. I can't have a no and a yes. I mean, I thought this wasyeah.
Dr. CORLEY. Yes. Mr. Shays, I did raise my hand that as far as the actual field work and
Mr. SHAYS. Okay.
Dr. CORLEY [continuing]. The collection of data, I am in charge of that for the
Mr. SHAYS. Right.
Dr. CORLEY [continuing]. FEMA ASCE team.
Mr. SHAYS. Well, in the five minutes that is slowly leaving me, I have two sets of questions. One is a set of questions that some of the families who are here would like to know the answer to. And then I would like to knowand I would like to maybe ask this question for my third roundI want to specifically know before I leave here exactly what you would be recommending to Congress. And, Mr. Shea, every time they call on you, I jump. But, Mr.only because
Page 200 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. SHEA. Well, I will jump for you.
Mr. SHAYS. Yeah, okay. The bottom line is, I would like to know specifically what you want us to do, what powers you think we need to do so this chairman can recommend to others if it doesn't all go through his Committeespecifically what we should do so there is no question as to who has authority and things happen right away and people have the statutory power and the ability to demand information and to hold people accountable. So that you can start to think about. I want a list, before we leave, on that.
But thefor the familiestheyis this investigation, Dr. Corley, looking at evacuation procedures? I want a simple questionanswerno, or, yes, if it is
Dr. CORLEY. Yes.
Mr. SHAYS. Okay. Is itis it going to report on the sprinkler systems not working?
Dr. CORLEY. We will mention that and recommend things to be done.
Mr. SHAYS. Access to roof eliminated. In other words, people couldn't get to the rooftop because it was blocked off, whereas the last time they could, so some went up rather than down. Will you be looking at why those doors were locked?
Page 201 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Dr. CORLEY. No.
Mr. SHAYS. Reports of stairway doors being locked? Will you be looking at that?
Dr. CORLEY. That will be something in our recommendations. We are not specifically doing it here.
Mr. SHAYS. Well, will you be checking to see if they were, in fact, locked? Will you be interviewing witnesses?
Dr. CORLEY. No. That will be future work.
Mr. SHAYS. Overall safety procedures, i.e., fire drills, fire inspections, and so onwill you be making any comment about that?
Dr. CORLEY. Again, that is future work.
Mr. SHAYS. Lack of communication between the Port Authority and the rescue personnel?
Dr. CORLEY. Same answer, future work.
Mr. SHAYS. Okay.
Page 202 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Dr. CORLEY. We are not directly addressing that.
Mr. SHAYS. Is NIST going to do
Dr. CORLEY. Yes.
Dr. BEMENT. Yes.
Mr. SHAYS. Okay.
Dr. BEMENT. All those things that you mentioned and more. And let me say that
Mr. SHAYS. And by future, now future?
Dr. BEMENT. I am talking about the investigation that we have been talking about
Mr. SHAYS. Right. Okay.
Dr. BEMENT [continuing]. During the hearing. This broader investigation that we are taking responsibility for, we will address all those issues.
Mr. SHAYS. Okay.
Page 203 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Dr. BEMENT. And we will start with the investigation that the American Society for Civil Engineers
Mr. SHAYS. So we will have some answers to these questions.
Dr. BEMENT. You will have answers to those questions.
Mr. SHAYS. Doors were locked. And so some of what
Dr. BEMENT. That is right.
Mr. SHAYS [continuing]. Dr. Corley responded as to future, that is basically
Dr. BEMENT. We will take a much more deliberate approach to getting answers to all those questions.
Mr. SHAYS. Okay. Okay. And, Mr. Shea, I am going to come back my second round to ask you and others what specific powers youwe need, who should have those powers, and so on. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you. It seems to me, Mr. Shea, that BPAT did not get the aggressive support it needed from the minute this whole thing started from FEMA. I mean, I can't understand, for example, on the blueprints, why it took until DecemberDecemberno, it was actually January 8 before they finally got them. Wasn't it?
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Mr. SHEA. Uh-huh. Yeah.
Chairman BOEHLERT. I mean, wasn't that one of the first requests you made? And I understand you didn't drop everything on September 11. I mean, we were all shocked. And, once again, let me stress, rightly, everybody was focused on search and rescueeverybody.
But it seems to me that fairly soon thereafterand I am talking about hours, not dayssome action should have been launched to do things like protect the steel and the evidence, to gather the blueprints, to recognize that this was a disaster of monumental proportions, and it is going to require a most comprehensive investigation. And it doesn't appear that there was that instant response in the manner that I would like to have seen from FEMA. Can you address that?
Mr. SHEA. Well, Mr. Chairman, I will do the best I can. I
Chairman BOEHLERT. Well, let me let you think a little bit more, because I wanted to get to Dr. Corley's statement. One of the things he talks about in his testimony''When studying damaged structures, it is important to understand the physical nature of the original structure as soon as possible''as soon as possible. And then later on he said, ''The delay in the receipt of the plans hindered the team's ability to confirm their understanding of the buildings.'' Delaydelayand so they couldn't do the job that we expected them to do as rapidly as we wanted them to do. So, please talk to me a little bit about that, if you will.
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Mr. SHEA. Mr. Chairman, my reaction to your question is, frankly, I agree with you. There were many things that in hindsight now that we would have done different differently. But I have to also say thisit wasn't just a matter of being distracted by other things. We weren't, in fact, trying to react to the entire World Trade Center event. The agency washad all its resources pulling
Chairman BOEHLERT. Well, you were stretched to the limit. I understand that.
Mr. SHEA. Ithere was no question in my mind that that was the case. And while, again, we would have liked to have done things better, part of the rationale here is this. My belief isand this is somewhat in response to Congressman Shay's question as wellwe started out this hearing by making a recommendation that the National Institute of Standards and Technology be the appropriate agency to carry this type of work out. Part of the reason, quite frankly, is because of the size and technical capability of our agency, I frankly, think they won't have the same kinds of issues confronting them should they address an issue of this kind in the future. So that is my recommendation. I mean, I am serious on that. I believe
Chairman BOEHLERT. So
Mr. SHEA [continuing]. That from a good government standpoint, it makes much more sense to have an agency not directly involved in the immediate response activity involved in this kind of an issue.
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Chairman BOEHLERT. So we learn from experience, and the experience in this unfortunate incident leads us to conclude that we were not as timely and as forceful as we should have been in some areas, including requesting that the debris be segregated and preserved for future investigation. Because, as Dr. Corbett points out, it is very important. Dr. Astaneh points outDr. Corleythey all agree it is very important. And that the blueprintsI think you have to be scratching your head and yourself wondering why it took four months to get those blueprints to begin.
I can only conclude that we have never been through something like this before and, boy, I hope we never go through it again. And we better darn well move forward very aggressively in developing a protocol that says ifand we hope it never happensbut if something like this ever happens again, we have got people onsite right away. We know who is in charge. We have got video teams and we have got oral history teams and we have gotbringing in Dr. Corley and his people right away. And we are gettingand we know what questions to ask and who to ask of them. And it is sorry that we had to learn the hard way. But I hope we have learned an awful lot from this experience. And, well, with that, let me go to Mr. Crowley.
Mr. CROWLEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, once again. Dr. Astaneh, are you involved officially in the investigation of the World Trade Center disasterattack?
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. Well, my involvementI am not involved with the ASCE team at all.
Mr. CROWLEY. And, Dr. Corbett, are you?
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Mr. CORBETT. No. I am not involved officially.
Mr. CROWLEY. Okay. Dr. Corley, are any academics involved in the investigation?
Dr. CORLEY. Yes. Forty percent of our core team is from the academic community.
Mr. CROWLEY. And isDr. Corley, is youris ASCE in charge of obtaining oral testimony or oral evidence?
Dr. CORLEY. We areI would not say we are in charge of that, but we are obtaining some oralwell, oral descriptions of what people saw, did, and what happened
Mr. CROWLEY. I am assuming you know what you are looking for. In other words, the questions that would need to be asked from a technical term would have to come from either yourself or someone like yourself who knows what they are asking. Right?
Dr. CORLEY. Absolutely. We know what we are looking for in the areas that this study concerns.
Mr. CROWLEY. And is that ongoing?
Page 208 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Dr. CORLEY. Yes. It is.
Mr. CROWLEY. And when did it begin? When were you getting thatwhen did you start collecting that oral ortestimony?
Dr. CORLEY. Withwe started collecting some of that before we were onsite. We were in contactpeople contacted us and we collected some of that information even before we got onsite. And we have continued to collect it when we can find people that have information we are after.
Mr. CROWLEY. Let me just ask this question, Mr. CorleyDr. Corley. You mentioned future studies
Dr. CORLEY. Yes.
Mr. CROWLEY [continuing]. As opposed to the present study. Can you just clarify, for meI mean, for the people in this room, what you mean by that?
Dr. CORLEY. Yes. What I am referring to is that when we finish our report and it becomesor is transmitted in the month of April, I am talking about whatever happens after that point.
Mr. CROWLEY. Are you running into any other roadblocks in terms of not only the city or the state or any other entity, in terms of obtaining information that you request?
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Dr. CORLEY. Well, asin any project like this, there are difficulties in collecting information because people don't know where it is, things like that. And we have the normal number of problems like that in this study.
Mr. CROWLEY. I mean, I am talking specifically about government agencies. Are you still running into roadblocks, like the one you experienced in January in which you had to sign a document saying you would not testify in court?
Dr. CORLEY. I would not be able to name you any additional ones than things that have been discussed today, but thereif I thought about it, I might come up with something. But I don't think of anything right now.
Mr. CROWLEY. Dr. Bement, you said earlier thatwell, I don't know if you said this or notbut there apparently seems to be a problem in terms of being able to gather information and in terms of working cooperatively with local and city government. Is that correct?
Dr. BEMENT. No. We haven't run into any of those problems as yet. As a matter of fact, one of the most valuable sources of oral history will be from the New York Fire Department in the recounting of the events from the firefighters themselves. And we
Mr. CROWLEY. Would you describe the events of early January as a problem?
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Dr. BEMENT. And tell me what events you are referring to.
Mr. CROWLEY. In terms of Dr. Corley having to sign a document stating that he would not testify in court against the Port Authority or the city, I am assuming.
Dr. BEMENT. It certainly was an impediment to his study. I consider it to be a problem.
Mr. CROWLEY. I thank you and I yield back the balance of my time.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you. Let us seewell, Mr. Shays.
Mr. SHAYS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, to myto the witnesses, I would like to know what powers are needed specifically and who should have these powers to do an investigation almost in with thewell, I don't want to prejudice thisto do a thorough investigation? Mr. Shea, do you want to start?
Mr. SHEA. From our perspective in FEMA, I think that we, again, would want to say that we feel the National Institute of Standards and Technology is the appropriate agency. They have some existing authority. But I think this Committee, through this hearing today, has already identified some areas where they would need some additional authority.
Mr. SHAYS. Okay. So they should have the authority.
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Mr. SHEA. Yes.
Mr. SHAYS. And then what particular powers should they have or should it have?
Mr. SHEA. Well, again, I would defer to Dr. Bement on that. But my belief is they obviously want to have access to sites, ready access to the design and construction drawings, things of this nature.
Mr. SHAYS. Dr. Bement.
Dr. BEMENT. Yes. I think, first of all, we would have to have a reserve funding mechanism so that we could bring parties on board. We would have to have something like a National Construction Studies Board where people
Mr. SHAYS. And let me ask you, in the National Constructions Board, was this what looked at L'Ambiance in Bridgeport when we lost 18 people?
Dr. BEMENT. No. The
Mr. SHAYS. Well, who did that work? That waswas that
Dr. BEMENT. There is a National Transportation Studies Board that has the authorities and the first response responsibility.
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Mr. SHAYS. Is someonecan you consult with anyone who can tell you who did L'Ambiance? No. I don't
Mr. SUNDER. We did the study and OSHA changed the mandatory standards
Mr. SHAYS. Excuse me, sir. I don't knowyou need to identify yourself.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Identify yourself for the record, please.
Mr. SUNDER. I am Shyam Sunder. I am the Chief of the Structures Division at NIST.
Mr. SHAYS. Okay. I am sorry. And what was the answer?
Mr. SUNDER. And we did the study and OSHA changed the mandatory standards as a result of that.
Mr. SHAYS. Okay. Thank you very much. So you all did the study. I interrupted you. So you talked about the construction board and thenI am sorry, Dr. Bement.
Dr. BEMENT. Well, we are all talking about a faster response. And what that means is there has to be an organization in place that is empowered to immediately arrive on the scene that has sufficient authority to gather evidence that has subpoena power and that has the adequate funding mechanisms to carry on whatever investigation at whatever scale is neededwhatever is necessary.
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I would also add, it is almost a no-brainer that there is no reason why building blueprints have to be in paper or vellum format. They could be on electronic format, in which case everyone could have the zip file. I mean, the firefighters could have their disk and a lot of people could have that disk.
Mr. SHAYS. But there would some we wouldn't want to have that information. Yeah. Right. Anything else?
Dr. BEMENT. No.
Mr. SHAYS. To the gentleman that just came, could I invite you just to come back and just tell me with L'Ambiance was there subpoena power? Was there other powers that accompanied that investigation?
Mr. SUNDER. No. We have typically not required that because the statute, as you know, says that any work we do is notcannot be used in a court of law. And also, Federal employees can't serve as expert witnesses in general. So
Mr. SHAYS. And what was the purpose for not being in a court of law? What is the motivation for that?
Mr. SUNDER. Usually we draw a distinction between structural failures and failures after natural disasters. In the case of structural failures, there is usually litigation problems between different parties. And since we are doing a technical study, focusing on the technical issues, we don't go in to the issues of finding fault and negligence in our work.
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Mr. SHAYS. Thank you. Dr. Bement, if you would help me a second, wouldn't you need also the authority to look at malfeasance, just a failure tofor someone doing their jobprobablywouldn't it have to involve not just structural issues, but other issues as well?
Dr. BEMENT. Again, our role is to do technical studies and not
Mr. SHAYS. No. But that is maybesuggests that maybe you should only play a part. And, Mr. Shea, that there needs to be some other organization that looks at this from a holistic point of view. I mean, if doors were locked, if processes aren't followed that should be, it would suggest to me that NIST wouldn't be
Dr. BEMENT. Well, I think there would be many, many organizations that would get involved at that stage in
Mr. SHAYS. No. But that is what we are trying to avoid.
Dr. BEMENT [continuing]. Providing evidence.
Mr. SHAYS. We are trying to avoid if everybody is responsible, nobody is. We want one board ultimately or one group ultimately, it seems to me, to have the authority to look at every aspect of why something happened that shouldn't have happened. And so that really argues for you being a part of this, but somebody else having a greater role.
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Dr. BEMENT. Well, I think the point here is that at what point do you want to get beyond conducting an independent, open, public, unbiased study that is inclusive to going to the other extreme of developing evidence and fault-finding and
Mr. SHAYS. Yeah. But when NTSB looks at something, they look at pilot performance besides looking at structural issues. They look at a lot of issues. They don't just look at one part. So I mean, I understand where you are coming from. It may make sense for you to focus on just structural issues, but ultimately this Committee needs to make a recommendation that I think that is one that
Dr. BEMENT. I agree with that.
Mr. SHAYS. Okay.
Dr. BEMENT. Yes. I agree with that.
Mr. SHAYS. Okay. Thank you.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you, Mr. Shays. You know, as I mentioned in my opening statement, this investigation seems to be unusually concerned with secrecy. Can you explain that to me, Mr. Shea, why that is so, and whywe know, for example, that the Port Authority did not take this approach after the '93 bombing. And what is the nature of the confidentiality agreements that BPAT participants were asked to sign?
Page 216 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. SHEA. The nature is that the team members won't disclose publicly the conversations and opinions that are going on during the course of their deliberations. This is primarily intended to protect the scientific integrity of the process. That is
Chairman BOEHLERT. You are sayingbut thatDr. Corley, didn't you say that is unusual?
Dr. CORLEY. My comment was that I don't recall when I have signed an agreement like that in the past.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Mr. Shea, do you recall requesting such agreements in previous instances?
Mr. SHEA. Yeah. Our confidentiality agreements are standard fare as part of the way that we have historically done these Building Performance Assessment Teams.
Chairman BOEHLERT. But why all the secrecy? I mean, we didn't have a spokesperson for FEMA out talking to the public? I mean, obviously, when you have got an ongoing investigation, you don't give chapter or verse
Mr. SHEA. Right.
Chairman BOEHLERT [continuing]. Along the way. But it seems that there was undue secrecy and people were just hungry for more information. Do you think I am unfair in characterizing the situation as one involving undue secrecy?
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Mr. SHEA. I guess I am a little taken aback by that, Mr. Chairman. Imy opinion of the situation is that what we were attempting to do was provide an environment for scientists and technical engineers and academicians to come to judgmentsand this often involves opinionsand give them an opportunity to bring their opinions forward in an unbiased way and free from any undue influence from outside parties.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Yeah. But do you have a spokesperson to deal with the rest of the world, other than theDr. Corley and his team, the BPAT team, and those who are involved internally in the process? I mean, there are a lot of questions understandably from the rest of the world.
Mr. SHEA. Right.
Chairman BOEHLERT. But was there a spokesperson to address those questions on behalf of FEMA?
Mr. SHEA. Well, as far as I understand, if we were asked questions that we did try and respond to them. Now, I am not aware of any circumstance in which we were unresponsive to somebody. In fact, I was interviewed as part of this process. I did engage in a conference call with some people who had some concerns about our issue. And I
Chairman BOEHLERT. I am just reading from the SOP here, Standard Operating Procedures
Page 218 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. SHEA. Right.
Chairman BOEHLERT [continuing]. Of March 2000, Building Performance Assessment Team Program. ''A BPAT media advisor's liaison is selected by the DFO public information officer to act as a liaison between the BPAT and media relations staff and the DFO and the media. All media contacts are referred to the media affairs liaison.'' So if Iif my office called up or just John Q. Citizen called up on the 17th of October and said, who is your media affairs liaison, who would you have referred?
Mr. SHEA. Well, that would have been somebody in our disaster field office in New York City. Frankly, I am sorry, I don't have a name to give you right now.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Okay. I don't expect you to know the names of all your employees.
Mr. SHEA. But, in fact, there was somebody there. There was a media liaison who would deal with issues of that nature.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Yeah. Well, counsel just points out to me that in some instances leaks to the media sort of backfired, because that is not a desirable way to do businesshave leaks.
Mr. SHEA. I couldn't agree more, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman BOEHLERT. But leaks only come about when there are people who are sort of frustrated in many instances that information isn't getting out to the public, and so they do it in bits and dribbles, and sometimes it compromises an ongoing investigation or works contrary to the desired result in terms of the ongoing investigation. And that is why I happen to believe public information is very important. And I would have thought that maybe a higher level person than just a person on the site in a field office, not having a great deal of authority and not being able to speak with authority for FEMAthat is really an awesome responsibility to put on someone like that.
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Mr. SHEA. I don't disagree with you. Iin those circumstances, Imy anticipation is that the field office would have brought that up to Washington and that they would have involved myself or Mr. Wingo or others in the response to any of those issues.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you. Mr. Weiner.
Mr. WEINER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First, let me begin by offering my apologies to you, Mr. Chairman, and to members of the panel if I got a little excited and loud earlier. Being from New York, we sometimes don't modulate our voices and
Chairman BOEHLERT. I want you to know, Mr. Weiner, I also am from New York and I am proud of it.
Mr. WEINER. And I also, by no means, mean to imply that any of the members of the panel are responsible for these lapses. I believe you are cogs in a badly flawednot to the extent that there are any cogs therethat you are cogs in a very flawed machine and a bad apparatus. And let me make that clear. But I think what we are seeing increasingly from both the Chairman's previous questions and others throughout the day is that the model you should be looking at is the NTSB.
The NTSB would be absurdborderline ludicrousfor them to go to American Airlines and say, please let us see the diagram of your 767, please. We promise that if we find out that fibercarbons had weakened the tail, we won't tell anybody. It is mind-boggling. It is silly. I don't see any reason why the motis operandi should be any different from examining a building.
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The NTSB has made ahasdid about a dozen or so briefings in the first five or six days. Sometimes they said, you know what, we can't tell you stuff because we just don't know it. As a matter of fact, you know, I had dozens of conversations with the head of the NTSB and I always commend her. I said, you know, the temptation must be to say, well, maybe it is this or maybe it is that, and they don't do that. Andbut what they do do, is they do give regular updates. They let reporters throw the questions. They let members of theof Congress knowthey let the families know, we are going to be giving an update. And, as things are discounted or ruled in or ruled out, they let you know.
And the final thing that they do is they come out with a report. And by the time the report comes out, there is such credibility imbued in that document, that instantly airlines start reacting, the FAA starts reacting, and we, as citizens, start saying, I am glad they go to the bottom of that. The theory that I heard on day one turned out not to be exactly right.
So the easiest and best answer to give to the Mr. Chairman'sand to the Chairman's last series of questions was, you know what, we are going to start giving an update to you, the public, to members of the press, to you Members of Congress every so often. Even if we don't have all the answers, we are going to stand in front of you. We are going to clarify the chain of command. We are going to have the people there, the experts who are going to answer the questions.
CanI don't know who to ask anymore, but can you assure that you will do that in the months to come? Say that, well, if we don't have a report in the next 6 months, we will come back and maybe not give it to you in Congress, but we will have regular briefings at the NIST headquarters on how things are going.
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Dr. BEMENT. Sir, yes. I can assure you that that will happen.
Mr. WEINER. Terrific. And let me just ask one other substantive thing, and as you proceed with your investigation. A couple of things that have come upone has come up from the oral history given by the firefighters about the problems with communication. Part of it, sadly, was a reflection of 1993. They found there were problems with repeaters in the buildings that allow the radios to work. If one of the things that you could look at is ways to design into buildings a black box type of apparatus to allow the infrastructure of fire fighting to remain intact. To allowyou know, it is the old jokeyou know they always recover the black boxes. Why don't they make the plane out of the black box materials so they can recover everybody.
Dr. BEMENT. Yes. And I am just delighted for you to bring that up because that is in our '03 budget request.
Mr. WEINER. Okay. Whatbut if you can look at that. And a second issue that has come up repeatedly, as I have spoken to the familiesyou know, something that unifies the families of the victims, almost to a person, is they were on the higher floors. If you can take a look at the idea of building into high rises is a place for a helicopter to land. Figure, I know whatall right, we need to have antenna and the like. Figuring out ways, as you design buildings, to think about the people who are on the Rotunda floors and thing about the ones that are not. And even if it is not, as Mr. Bartlett, perhaps, you know, would like us to take any building that is over six floors and chop them off and put them next to each other
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Dr. BEMENT. Right.
Mr. WEINER. If we can start thinking about the real world experiences of firefighters, that I don't careyou know, these guys were on the 50-something floor on their way up. We have witnesses who were talking about firefighters carrying enough gear to make up my body weight going up while people were coming down.
If we can think about this as not just an academic exerciseif we can think about ways to design buildings and retrofit buildings to think about the men and women who are going to be called in, in the worst possible case scenario. That doesn't mean tear the buildings down. But figure out a way to include in the infrastructure wayswho knowsI mean, I think it wasI don't knowit was Mr. Corbett or Mr. Shea who talked about how the wing cut through the
Dr. BEMENT. Yes.
Mr. WEINER [continuing]. Pipe that carried the water. Maybe there is no way to avoid that. But I can tell you one thingthat, you know, there was only nominal thought given to what would happen if there was a fire up there. You know, to be honest with you
Dr. BEMENT. Right.
Mr. WEINER [continuing]. I don't know of anyoneeven, you know, you can put a standpipe on the 103rd floor. If you are not thinking about how someone on the 103rd floor is going to talk to the base downstairs, what is the point? So if you can think of that as well, and make that part of your research
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Dr. BEMENT. Mr. Weiner, we are in violent agreement on that point and we will carry that out as a key part of our investigation without doubt.
Mr. WEINER. I thank you. And let me reiterate my thank you for you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, Mr. Weiner, and, Mr. Shays. You two have been magnificent. You have been here all day. And it is obviousit should be obvious to everyone in the audience that this isn't the first time they have been introduced to the subject. A lot of preparation goes into a hearing like this, a lot of discussions. And I really thank you for your diligence and your active participation.
And I want to clear up something for the record, Dr. Corley, because you saidjust I want to make sure I understand it correctlythat shortly after September 11, you signed a confidentiality agreement, and you said you hadn't signed one like that before. Which confidentiality agreement were you referring to, the one from the Port Authority or the one from FEMA, or both?
Dr. CORLEY. I was referring to the one from the Port Authority.
Chairman BOEHLERT. So that isan SOP, as Mr. Shea had indicated, the type of agreement you signed with FEMA.
Dr. CORLEY. Yes. I think that agreement
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Chairman BOEHLERT. Standard.
Dr. CORLEY. That is a standard agreement I had signed
Chairman BOEHLERT. Yeah.
Dr. CORLEY [continuing]. Before.
Chairman BOEHLERT. I mean, it didn't sound out of line when he mentioned that to me.
Dr. CORLEY. Yeah.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Sobut I wanted to make sure the record was clear.
Dr. CORLEY. Yeah. I am sorry if thatif I confused you.
Chairman BOEHLERT. No. No.
Mr. WINGO. Mr. Chairman, if I could, that was a standard agreement in the Oklahoma City report as well.
Page 225 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Chairman BOEHLERT. Sure. I understand.
Mr. WINGO. Yes, sir.
Chairman BOEHLERT. But I just wanted to make sure for the record that we got that there.
Mr. WINGO. And for the past 20 or 30 or 40 BPATs
Chairman BOEHLERT. Well, look, I think we have learned a lot of things this afternoonsome things that raised concerns and that underscore some of the points I made right at the beginning.
First, right now, there are no clear lines of authority as to who in the Federal Government is to conduct an investigation of a building failure. No one is in charge. No one is sure what powers the Federal Government can exercise. No one is sure of the scope of an investigation, and that has to be fixed right away. And I see a lot of nodding of heads from the Panel, and I appreciate that.
We need an enhanced disaster investigation protocol in placethank you, Dr. Corbettso that from minute one, someone will assume a recognized leadership role. Someone has to be in charge or no one is. And having no one in charge is unacceptable.
Some of it can be fixed by the Federal agencies, and I understand that handing the ball from FEMA to NIST, which I think is logical and makes sense, but some of it has to be fixed by those of us up here in the Congress with legislation. And we are going to be looking for very specific proposals.
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For starters, we have to know right now who is in charge in the instant case. Second, NIST needs to move forward with its more extended work on the lessons of the collapse. We need to see that NIST has the authority andand this is essentialthe money to move ahead. And we are not talking about nickels and dimes. Money should not, and will not, be an obstacle if this Committee has anything to say about itto a thorough and timely investigation and recommendations. But NIST is going to have to present a more detailed plan on exactly what it will spend its money on and when.
Dr. BEMENT. Now, Mr. Chairman, we can provide more detail for the record than what you have received so far. But the
Chairman BOEHLERT. And we are doing thatonea lot of questions have been asked. One question that hasn't been asked directly of you. You have had 14 different pronunciations of your name today. Would you pronounce it for the Committee so that we will have
Dr. BEMENT. Well, Mr. Chairman, I have eight children and they all pronounce it differently also. It is Bement.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Bement. Thank you.
Dr. BEMENT. That is the official version.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you. And let the record show that. I want to emphasize again that correcting these deficiencies will not only help in this case, but will help us learn from future events regardless of whether they are caused by nature or by man. This Committee is committed to following up on today's hearing to ensure that the confusion and uncertainty we have brought to light today does not persist into the future.
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With that, let me thank the very patient panel, my colleagues up here who have given so much of their time and talent, and to all of you witnesses. You will be hearing further from us with written submissions, and we ask that you give us a timely written response. With that, if I can find the gavel, I will adjourn this hearing.
[Whereupon, at 3:57 p.m., the Committee was adjourned.]
Additional Material for the Record
Next Hearing Segment(2)
(Footnote 1 return)
Upon review, Dr. Bement clarified that this was the National Fire Protection Association, and not the Federal Fire Protection Agency.