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Background Attack Aftermath Evidence Misinformation Analysis Memorial

FEMA's Investigation

The FEMA WTC Building Performance Study

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) produced the first official government report attempting to explain the destruction of the three World Trade Center towers as structural collapses induced by plane crashes and fires. It also appeared to play a central role in the "cleanup" of Ground Zero, which led to the destruction of nearly all of the body of evidence any thorough investigation would need.

Investigation History

In the wake of the attack a group of engineers from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) volunteered to investigate the structural responses of the WTC buildings to the September 11 attack. Eventually FEMA took over the investigation of the ASCE volunteers, dubbing them the Building Performance Assessment Team (BPAT).

W. Gene Corley, Ph.D, Senior Vice President of Construction Technologies Laboratory in Skokie, IL, served as principal investigator. Corley was also the principal investigator for FEMA's study of the 1995 Murrah Federal Office Building attack. The BPAT's investigation was funded by $600,000 from FEMA and $500,000 in ASCE in-kind contributions. 1   By December of 2001 $100,000 had been spent on the investigation.

The BPAT lacked subpoena power, hence was unable to obtain access to important documents such as engineering drawings of the buildings. 2  

In May of 2002 FEMA released its World Trade Center Building Performance Study. Available at http://www.fema.gov/library/wtcstudy.shtm until March of 2005, has since showed up at http://www.fema.gov/rebuild/mat/wtcstudy.shtm. We have reproduced it in full at this permanent mirror.

FEMA's Report

FEMA published its Report in the form of PDF documents only. The anonymous author who created the nerdcities.com/guardian website converted and published most of the chapters in HTML, several with added comments. Those chapters are listed here as well as in our partial mirror of the nerdcities.com/guardian website.

selected chapters and appendices from FEMA's report
commented by 'guardian' author

Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Introduction (with comment)
Chapter 2 WTC 1 and WTC 2 (with comment)
Chapter 3 WTC 3
Chapter 4 WTC 4, 5, and 6
Chapter 5 WTC 7 (with comment)
Chapter 6 Bankers Trust Building
Chapter 7 Peripheral Buildings
Appendix A Overview of Fire Protection in Buildings (with comment)
Appendix B Structural Steel and Steel Connections (with comment)
Appendix D WTC Steel Data Collection (with comment)

The nerdcities.com/guardian author did not provide an HTML version of Appendix C, so we provide it:

Appendix C Limited Metallurgical Examination

Report Description

Now you see it now you don't ... Covers from FEMA's Report

Written by members of the BPAT, the Report purports to explain how the jet impacts led to the devastation of the World Trade Center. One of the appendices has pictures, apparently taken at the Fresh Kills landfill, of people sporting hard-hats and tape-measures looking at steel pieces with numbers spray-painted on them. The BPAT apparently didn't rate admission to Ground Zero. The report shows only one photograph of a collapse, but has lots of eye-pleasing colorful illustrations.

The Report is illustrated with many colorful cartoon-like drawings, such as one explaining FEMA's postulated floor collapse mechanism. It seems crafted to mislead the casual reader into thinking that the Towers had no core structures.

Despite its distortions, FEMA's Report provides a substantial ammount of data about the event not documented elsewhere, and conspicuously absent from NIST's reports. For example, Appendix C describes observations, interesting from a forensic standpoint, that steel members were severly corroded by sulfidative attack.


1. HEARING CHARTER: Learning from 9/11: Understanding the Collapse of the World Trade Center, house.gov, 3/6/02
2. HEARING: Learing From 9/11 -- Understanding the Collapse of the World Trade Center, commdocs.house.gov, 3/6/2002 [cached]

page last modified: 2012-05-03