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The Investigation of Building 7's Collapse

What did the government do to investigate the unprecedented collapse of a steel-framed building from fires? It gave FEMA the sole discretion to investigate the collapse, even though FEMA is not an investigative agency.

ASCE/FEMA volunteer
ASCE/FEMA volunteer
A BPAT volunteer diligently measures a piece of steel that that FEMA allowed to pass to the Fresh Kills landfill rather than directly to the blast furnaces.

FEMA assembled a team of volunteer engineers from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), dubbed the Building Performance Assessment Team (BPAT), to write the World Trade Center Building Performance Study . The engineers were not granted access to the site of the catastrophe. Rather, they were allowed to pick through some pieces of metal that arrived at the Fresh Kills landfill. Most of the steel was never seen by the part-time investigators. It had been sold to scrap metal vendors, and was being shipped out to overseas ports as quickly as the newly constructed infrastructure could handle.

The FEMA/ASCE investigation was not funded by an act of Congress, and given a paltry $600,000 by FEMA. 1   A March 2002 hearing transcript revealed that, just two month before publishing its final report the BPAT still had not been able to see blueprints for WTC 7 or the Twin Towers since they lacked subpoena power. 2  

FEMA's BPAT, the only official organization that reported on Building 7's collapse within two years of the attack, published their Final Report in May of 2002, just after the last building remains had been scrubbed from Ground Zero. The Report was completely indecisive about the cause of Building 7's collapse.

NIST's Investigation

Later, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) was charged with investigating the collapses of the World Trade Center skyscrapers by the National Construction Safety Team Act (HR 4687), enacted on Oct. 1, 2002. 3   Unlike FEMA, NIST chose to separate their analysis of the Twin Towers and Building 7 into two separate reports. Although they initially promised to release their final report on Building 7 in mid-2005, they delayed the publication date multiple times. As of this writing the report is promised sometime in 2007.


References

1. HEARING CHARTER Learning from 9/11: Understanding the Collapse of the World Trade Center, house.gov, 3/6/02 [cached]
2. HEARING: Learning From 9/11 -- Understanding the Collapse of the World Trade Center, commdocs.house.gov, 3/6/2002 [cached]
3. AWG E-MAIL NEWS 2002-29, awg.org, [cached]

page last modified: 2007-01-25
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