$40 Million Needed to Study WTC
- 3/18/02 issue)
By Nadine M. Post with Sherie Winston
It would take $40 million to adequately study
the performance of the collapsed twin, 110-story towers of the World
Trade Center and surrounding buildings damaged by the Sept. 11 terrorist
attacks, said W. Gene Corley, in testimony March 5, in Washington,
D.C., before the House Science Committee.
Corley, senior vice president of Construction Technology Laboratories
Inc., Skokie, Ill., is leading a 25-person, WTC building performance
study team. The team is comprised of volunteers and organized by
the Structural Engineering Institute of the American Society of
Civil Engineers, Reston, Va. It has been operating with $1 million
from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The goal of the study, due out next month, is to increase knowledge
of how buildings perform when subjected to "extreme forces."
"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,"
said Corley in his testimony, adding that it is best for the federal
government to prevent such attacks. But it is also "sound and
prudent" to pursue rational, scientifically based methods to
improve structural performance under extreme conditions, including
"normal" fires, he said.
The $40 million would cover the expense of stockpiling the steel
and other debris; examining the steel; physically testing the steel;
partial parametric computer modeling of the steel, the fire, the
plane and the blast; and the examination of egress issues, says
Corley. From the study, tools could be developed to address fire
as a structural design load and to understand the behavior of structural
connections under fire conditions. Tools also could be developed
to look at strategies against progressive collapse.
Another witness, Arden L. Bement Jr., director of the Commerce
Dept.'s National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg,
Md., said the $40-million figure was "in the ballpark."
In his testimony, Bement described a NIST plan for a so-called
National Building and Fire Safety Investigation of the World Trade
Center Disaster. One of the program's goals would be to produce
cost-effective retrofit and design measures and operational guidance
for emergency responders. Another goal would be to "address
critically and urgently needed improvements to national building
and fire standards, codes and practices that have begun to be recognized
in recent years," he said. Sept. 11 has brought these issues
into sharper focus, he added.
Official announcement of the NIST program is expected this month,
as soon as word is received about funding from the Office of Management
The House panel, which is not an appropriating committee, has
no real jurisdiction over the WTC disaster. But in his opening remarks
at the hearing, Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.) said, "I
wholeheartedly endorse" the call by the witnesses for the expanded
federal research effort, and the financing of that follow-up effort.