The stated purpose of the NIST reports was already described in section 3.1., the primary objective being to:
Determine why and how WTC 1 and WTC 2 collapsed following the initial impacts of the aircraft and why and how WTC 7 collapsed.
To determine what happened the NIST investigators were heavily dependent on the visual record. As the NIST states clearly in NCSTAR 1-6 section 9.2, they constructed a timeline from observations extracted from the visual record and used the timeline to determine all inputs to their models to determine how and why each building collapsed. Section 9.2 shows how the NIST relied on the visual record to determine inputs in their computer simulation regarding:
1) Fire movement and activity
2) Aircraft impact and resulting damage
3) failure behavior
They constructed what they call timelines out of what they refer to as key and noted observations. In the same way, the author of this book constructed mappings out of series of individual events. Like them, I also extracted a timeline, or as I call them mappings, of each collapse from the same visual record that the NIST used.
From NCSTAR 1-6, section 9.2:
Observations were classified into two groups: key observations and noted observations. Key observations were significant structural events that were explicitly addressed in or used to validate the structural analyses. Noted observations were events that may have been linked to a structural response, but their significance could not be conclusively assessed.
Observations were used to develop timelines just as this book uses features to develop mappings.
Observables were used in all the analyses in three ways: (1) to determine input parameters, such as the aircraft speed and direction at impact, (2) to impose time-related constraints on the analysis, such as imposing observed broken windows over time to constrain the spread of fire, or (3) to validate analysis results, such as global stability after impact and during thermal loading.
As described in section 3.1, the end result of the NIST analysis was toward the development of collapse initiation scenarios for WTC1, WTC2, and WTC7. The results were validated by comparing them to observables of the collapse initiation processes of all three buildings.
The models were to be evaluated against observables of the actual processes under study. This approach was destined to be flawed if one observes the collapse initiation processes poorly or if one works from fabricated sets of observables. As was shown in sections 3.2, 3.3, and 3.4, this is exactly what the NIST did.
How were the myriad mistakes made by the NIST allowed to remain unchecked those outside their organization? Why was there no independent review of NIST claims until many years after the reports were published?
With the more accurate mappings of building behavior now available, it is highly enlightening to look back upon the investigative process to see how such lack of oversight and poor third party fact-checking came to be. The NIST was first assigned the role of investigating the cause of the World Trade Center collapses in 2002. Goals of the NIST investigation were established with congressional oversight and feedback from the public. These goals were described quite clearly in a congressional hearing in May of 2002. In this section highlights of that hearing will be reviewed in order to establish the original priorities of the inestigation that the NIST was tasked to lead.
After the NIST reports on WTC1 and WTC2 were completed, another congressional hearing was conducted in 2005 in order to establish how well the NIST performed their task and to identify further issues that remained unresolved. Key comments from that hearing will also be reviewed in order to help understand how the NIST was allowed to operate with so little oversight.
2002 and 2005 Congressional Hearings and Testimony
Directors of the NIST and FEMA gave congressional testimony in which they explained their main focus and concerns to the House Science Committee. There were 3 congressional hearings in total, the first two in March and May of 2002, and another after the NIST report was completed in 2005. The 2002 congressional testimony is quite useful to understand what were considered to be the highest priorities of the NIST and FEMA investigations at that time.
It is highly illuminating to look back at statements made by both FEMA and the NIST during the 2002 hearing and compare them with statements made in the 2005 hearings. In the 2005 hearings there is a palpable change of mood and direction of the investigation when compared to the 2002 testimony given just 3 years earlier. Some of the statements in the 2005 hearing express disappointment in the NIST reports, which is in sharp contrast to the hopeful expectations expressed when the NIST investigation began.
Interestingly, none of the participants in the hearings at that time had access to detailed mappings of the collapse events such as the ones given in this book, so they could not cross-check the NIST claims for accuracy when the hearings were held. In fact, nobody could attempt to construct detailed mappings directly from the visual record in order to fact-check NIST claims because the NIST was in sole possession the compiled record and only released parts of it due to FOIA requests filed years later. Likewise, nobody could check the NIST computer modeling for WTC1 or 2 because they refused to allow access to it. They continue to refuse access of the computer modeling to the general public to this day.
House Science Committee Hearing May 1, 2002
The initial FEMA WTC collapse investigation was largely incomplete, as they admit within the testimony. The ASCE was hampered and disallowed access to important information and evidence. The NIST was then given responsibility for writing the report in 2002.
By the time the NIST investigation would begin, steel evidence would largely be gone. The NIST only examined only 2 core column sections from the collapse initiation zones of WTC1 and WTC2. Each building contained 47 core columns constructed of 36 ft sections. Since both buildings are claimed to have failed near levels containing rows of column splice joints, the total number of core column sections that would have been of extreme interest to investigators (core columns within the initial failure zones) would be 47x2 for each of the twin towers, or a total of 188 separate column sections. Once again, of these sections the NIST had only two in its possession. They are shown and their locations are labelled at this link.
footnote: Source is the Int'l Center for 9/11 Studies NIST FOIA, 911datasets.org release 27, folder 42A0156 - G26D13.
The witnesses were:
Mr. Robert Shea, Acting Administrator, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, FEMA; Dr. W. Gene Corley, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Chair of Building Performance Assessment Team (BPAT) reviewing the WTC disaster, accompanied by Dr. John Barnett; Dr. Arden Bement, Director, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); and Professor Glenn Corbett, Assistant Professor of Fire Sciences, John Jan College, New York City
House Science Committee Hearing May 1, 2002, New York Representative Sherwood Boehlert, the Committee Chairman, started the hearing by noting what was learned in the hearings two months previous. He said:
"On March sixth, we delved into the procedures that were followed to assess what had caused the towers to collapse in those indelible moments of September eleventh. We were not happy with what we learned. We found that the study of the collapse had been hampered by bureaucratic confusion, hesitation, and delay -- by a lack of investigative tools and by excessive restrictions on the flow of information.
Nothing insured that investigations would begin quickly enough to preserve valuable evidence."
Exact quotes from the hearing and the time being quoted are provided below. The reader can verify the accuracy of these quotes by checking the video links provided.
30:05 BARNETT: "Building 7, which was across the street from the main towers, also collapsed provided us with the first example that we recognized of a building collapsing as a result of fire."
The unique case of WTC7 was mentioned by a few people at the hearing as these excerpts demonstrate.
38:26-39:09 FEMA: "For connections, we have learned several things about connections, and this can apply to buildings more than just those that may be terrorist targets. First of all we need to have connections that are fire rated. When I am talking about connections I am talking about the way we attach beams to columns and make attachments along the length of a beam. In addition we need test data. At the moment we do not have the test data to tell us what to do to get the ratings that are appropriate."
39:55-40:07 FEMA: "We need to physically test connections under the conditions of fire so that we can determine how to recommend the fire protection of connections."
42:07-42:15 FEMA: "Fire resistance of connections is an important consideration that is not thoroughly addressed at the moment in the building codes and this needs to be changed."
Concern over testing connections was repeatedly emphasized throughout the hearing in 2002.
47:52-48:11 NIST: "These building disasters provide a unique source of information to study the safety and performance of open web steel truss joists under fires. This type of truss is used widely in floor and roof systems for commercial and institutional buildings nationwide."
48:14-48:30 NIST: "The mechanisms not considered previously can be studied that could initiate progressive collapse in buildings as a result of fires and impact including the pivotal components of transfer girders and floor diaphrams."
54:20 "Nearly 8 months have passed since the collapse of the twin towers yet we are only beginning to understand what happened on September 11th at the World Trade Center."
54:27-54:45 "Although the building performance assessment report that is being released at today's hearing yields some useful information, the generalized nature of its recommendations and the limited scope of its assessment leave us with little hard evidence to make specific improvements to the codes and design practices and response procedures."
55:04 "I was pleased to learn that NIST plans to launch thorough and comprehensive investigation...to permit the disaster to be studied wholistically."
The Corbett testimony stresses the need for detail and concrete results, with which all participating parties agree.
55:23 "The breadth and depth of this planned investigation will provide us with a complete understanding of the disaster at the World Trade Center as is now possible. The fact-finding leave-no-stone-unturned objective of the NIST investigation will allow us to develop detailed conclusions and learn the lessons about what transpired at the World Trade Center."
This statement shows what many people believed were the objectives of the NIST investigation: to develop detailed conclusions of the collapse mechanisms of the WTC buildings and learn from them.
55:42 "It is this application of these hard-earned lessons, of course, that is the primary reason for conducting an investigation in the first place."
55:50 "These lessons must be translated into actual changes in our building and fire codes, enhancement in building design methodologies, and improvements in emergency response procedures and technologies."
56:00 "While NIST has laid out a comprehensive proposal for investigating and researching into the lessons learned in the disaster, the key to acheiving this goal lies in the details of the NIST plan."
56:43 "And number 3, the need for the investigation to center around detailed proposals for improvements in building and fire codes..."
This is the single most stressed point during the May, 2002 hearing: Detailed descriptions of the collapse mechanisms and the need for detailed proposals for existing and future building construction.
57:05 "The federal advisory committee's critical role to being the reviewer of the NIST's draft plan and its ongoing role in monitering the investigation".
59:47 "The third area of concern is to learn as many lessons as possible and apply these lessons in order for the changes to building and fire codes to be applied, the NIST investigation and the research reports must include specific recommended changes to specific sections of our model codes, not generalized recommendations."
1:01:10 "It is critical that the investigation be as comprehensive as currently planned and be funded at the necessary level to acheive this goal. It is essential that we learn exactly what happened to these structures, victims and survivors on September 11th and prevent it from ever happening again."
This seems to be the chief reason for the investigation according to the views of of the participants in this hearing: to learn what happened to these buildings with as much detail as possible in order to prevent it from happening again.
1:08:45 CHAIRMAN: "Would you agree that you, somebody, should have had subpoena power to get that information?"
1:09:29 NIST: "We are going to go after every piece of evidence that pertains to this investigation. And the media's video tapes? Yes"
The FEMA investigation was hampered by a lack of access to the complete visual record.
1:15:05-1:15:51 CONGRESSMAN: "Was there anything in this report that a city counsel, that a state legislature, that the federal government can take and translate directly into changes in building codes? FEMA: Not at this time...at the moment we don't have the wording we would use. We don't know what the parameters are that should be suggested, but we can see some things that may be changes in the future. CHAIRMAN: That is exactly why we have to have the follow-through from NIST in a very comprehensive way and that is why I was so anxious to determine they had the resources to begin immediately..."
1:15:51 CHAIRMAN: "Obviously, Dr Corley, the study was not complete. We recognized that from the beginning."
At the time of the hearing there was a general admission among all vocal participants that the FEMA investigation was sketchy and lacking specifics. They did not have the authority to access the complete visual record of events or gain access to valuable evidence.
1:16:20 CONGRESSMAN: "I understand fully why towers 1 and 2 went down considering the description you've given. I'm still puzzled by building 7..."
As can be verified by looking over FEMA, NIST and ASCE records over the last decade, it is impossible that the congressman actually understood why WTC1 and WTC2 collapsed in 2002.
1:20:04 BARNETT: "Up until 9/11 we have never had a collapse of a protected steel building."
1:21:10 "There are still some unanswered questions about that building, It did house a com-ed substation."
Once again, committee members and witnesses are on record admitting the collapse of a protected steel buildings has never happened before 9/11/01. They recognize WTC7 as a unique case in the history of modern construction.
1:34:20 "I couldn't agree more that the comprehensive nature of the study is essential"
1:39:04 CHAIRMAN: "I'm fascinated, for example, by the connections of the transfer beams that seem totally inadequate in this situation..."
1:44:00 NIST reluctant to request subpoena power
1:49:20 CORBETT: "This is the foundation of why we are doing this, to make changes in the codes."
15:02-15:38 CHAIRMAN: "I'd like to know the central goal of the investigation. NIST: I think going back to the central point, why these were unique incidences and why collapse occurred. There have been instances where buildings have had major fires that burned to completion without the buildings collapsing, I mean, there are several such incidences on record. The singular nature of the collapse and the effect of fire on that collapse, we really need to understand it in much better detail. So that is, far and away, in our minds, the most critical thing to understand first."
This general agreement that the singular nature of the WTC7 collapse is, far and away, in the minds of the participants, the most critical thing to understand first is repeated multiple times throughout the hearing.
16:43-16:59 NIST: "Now there are many other elements that are critical and that has to do with the behavior of connections under fire, the behavior of open truss structures under fire are central to understanding in detail the exact sequence of the events that led up to the collapse."
The NIST director is also on record as describing the importance of understanding the OOS design and connection strength in detail as central to understanding in detail the exact sequence of the events that led up to the collapses as early as 2002.
18:48-19:10 FEMA: "The items that we saw that need the most attention, other than those that deal with buildings that can be strictly identified as potential targest for terrorists, are those dealing with the fire resistance of connections"
19:36-19:40 FEMA: "Those are the two highest priorities, the connections and the amount of fuel."
19:40 BARNETT: "I'd like to add something about the connections. In building 5 we have major collapses due to connection behavior and fire, that is why it is a priority."
The main themes being repeated in this 2002 hearing are summarized below. (note I am using the exact same terms that they used):
1) Connections are the highest priority
2) The need for the NIST investigation to produce concrete, specific details of the collapses. The importance of avoiding vague, general conclusions. The importance of avoiding conclusions of a generalized nature. The need for a comprehensive, specific and complete understanding of the chain of events that led to collapse. The key, the fundamental purpose, lies in the details. The need for the investigation to center around producing detailed proposals for improvements in building and fire codes. It is essential to learn exactly what happened to these structures. The comprehensive nature of the study is essential. The most critical thing is the need to understand the collapses in much better detail.
3) The unique opportunity to study the safety and performance of open web steel truss joists under fires
4) WTC7, which is the first known case of a collapse of a protected steel building. It is the first recognized example of a building collapsing as a result of fire.
Such were the key areas of concern of investigators in May, 2002. It is illuminating to see how the NIST reports and conclusions are treated in the follow-up 2005 congressional inquiry.
Congressional hearing 2005
After the release of the NIST reports on the collapses of WTC1 and 2 in 2005, a third hearing was held to examine the NIST findings. The difference in tone of the 2002 hearing and the 2005 hearing examined next is striking. In the 2002 hearings there was a level of enthusiasm for highly detailed report promised by the NIST; An examination that "left no stone unturned".
It is important to remember that the people giving testimony were not aware of misrepresentations highlighted in sections 3.2, 3.3, or 3.4 of this book. At that time there was no access to the visual record, as the NIST researchers were the only ones allowed access to it.
Some direct quotes from the 2005 hearing are reproduced below.
THE INVESTIGATION OF THE WORLD TRADE CENTER COLLAPSE: FINDINGS,RECOMMENDATIONS, AND NEXT STEPS
HEARING BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED NINTH CONGRESS, FIRST SESSION
OCTOBER 26, 2005
Serial No. 109â€"28, Printed for the use of the Committee on Science. Transcripts of the hearing at this link:
PREPARED STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN SHERWOOD L. BOEHLERT
I want to welcome everyone to this important hearing, this committee's third on the tragic collapse of the World Trade Center, but probably not our last. I want to promise (and perhaps warn) everyone at the outset that this committee will be closely monitoring the follow-up to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) report on the events of September 11.
That means we will be watching what NIST does, what other federal agencies do, and what the code writing organizations do. We are obviously not technical experts, but we will be making sure that the recommendations are considered fully and thoroughly, that NIST is doing everything necessary to back up those recommendations, and that any decisions are fully justified by the facts.
Parts 2 and 3 of this book serve as direct testimony as to how well this committee was able to watch what the NIST does.
The issues raised in NIST's report go far beyond a single, horrific terrorist incident, and indeed beyond terrorism as a phenomenon. The report raises fundamental questions about what we know about the behavior of buildings and their contents, what we know about the behavior of individuals in emergencies, and about whether buildings are well enough designed for any large emergency. This is not about making every building strong enough to survive a plane crash.
Incorrect mappings of the initiation sequences; problem #1.
On the surface, today's hearing topic may sound dry and technical. However, what we're really talking about is saving lives. The sole purpose of the National Construction Safety Team Act is to save lives by investigating and understanding building collapses and then improve building codes, emergency response and evacuation procedures.
hard to do without any ROOSD-type descriptions. MT recommendation: Don't build 110 story structures with OOS architecture stackings and no barriers for runaway collapse the entire height of the structures.
The City of New York is involved in something it hasn't done in a generation, which is rewriting its building codes. If I were to send this report to the City of New York, and they wanted to go to a reference and say, well, how do we follow up on the NIST recommendation that we improve standards for fire resistance testing. Is there a standard in this report? And the answer is no. If they want to follow up on the NIST recommendation that fire protection and suppression redundancy be built into buildings, is there a specific standard that they can take from this report? The answer is no. So, I think that we have fallen short, NIST has fallen short of making this a true reference manual for future protection of big buildings. And for those of us in New York City and other big cities, and frankly, even medium sized cities that are building buildings of greater than twenty stories, it falls short.
And I also think something else. You know, we in government have a certain tolerance for the slow pace of things. This took too long. It took too long for NIST to produce a report that really doesn't get us anywhere past the 50 yard line here. We are not in the Red Zone. We are not getting close to the place that we need to be. And I am prepared to introduce legislation, hopefully with the support of this committee and its great chairman, to say okay, let us take the next step. Let us take these general recommendations. Let us take the general forensic examination that was done on the World Trade Center. Let us take the general propositions that are suggested herein. Let us assume they are correct, but let us take the next step. Let us produce a document that truly has some fairly specific standards. Let us incentivize, but not requireâ€"I don't believe we should have a Federal Buildings Departmentâ€"that incentivizes cities, states, and localities to adopt these things, and also, allows families, allow legislators when considering things like TRIA or building codes in Skokie, Illinois or Brooklyn, New York, to have a reference guide that they can use. Only then will the true goals of our original legislation have been fulfilled, and I think that that is something that we should point towards in the future.
As members of an investigative committee, one should not assume they are correct. One should demand assess the the information needed for the claims to be verified by multiple sources.
If this speaker considers the report "really doesn't get us anywhere past the 50 yard line here" when it was written in 2005, one would have to wonder how many yards has the NIST adanced the ball since that hearing.
The speaker did not have access to the visual record in order to verify any of the NIST claims. Perhaps if accurate visual records were compared directly with NIST claims at that time, the speaker would be able to realize that we are no where near the 50 yard line yet. In fact, we are losing yardage.
I must also begin by thanking NIST for interacting with us on a regular basis over the past three years, via conference calls and meetings, with myself and my SSC co-chair, Monica Gabrielle, who is out of the country and cannot be here today. I know that it has not always been easy to deal with me and with other victims' families, but I appreciate the tolerance and respect shown to us by NIST. I also appreciate the vast technical research abilities of this organization and the enormous task of embarking upon the WTC investigation.
In totality, however, while some very valuable results were achieved, the overall mode and findings of the investigation was not what I had hoped for. I had certain hopes regarding NIST in the investigation, but I and others were somewhat disillusioned regarding what NIST was willing and able to do. I had hoped for more specific and comprehensive recommendations that could easily be translated into code reform and change, but this was not the case. The recommendations, I feel, are very general and lack specifics. I feel that the vagueness of the language was influenced by a need for political correctness and a general reluctance or an inability to investigate, use subpoena power, lay blame, or even point out the deadly mistakes of 9/11 in the World Trade Center.
Accurate and detailed mappings used to verify NIST claims reveal many technical problems with the reports as well.
The following are five areas of concern of the Skyscraper Safety Campaign, and these concerns have been compiled by input from my professional advisors, as well as my own experience during the last four years.
The first area of concern is the role of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and its exemptions from immunities and codes. The failure of the NIST investigation to comprehensively examine what role these immunities played in the design, construction, maintenance, and ultimate collapse of the World Trade Center, is of great concern to me.
Secondly, the lack of more intense emphasis on the fireproofing issues, the premature disposal of the steel evidence, the heavy reliance on computer modeling for the fire testing, and the reluctance to focus on cause, blame, and resultant implications are troubling to us.
Number three, the reliance on the voluntary cooperation of key figures in the investigation to provide needed information, putting the WTC chief structural engineer on the payroll to facilitate his involvement in the investigation, utilizing researchers to the exclusion of true investigators going into the field to obtain evidence is also problematic to me. On this last point, I want to note that I have been married to an NYPD detective sergeant for over 30 years, and I can recognize an investigation when I see one. I feel the inherent character of the NIST as a research rather than an investigative agency was a factor in this situation.
Number four, the lack of focus on evacuation issues of the World Trade Center, such as the remoteness of the exits, the behavior of fleeing persons in the stairwells, and the avoidance of first person accounts of stairwell evacuation, and the length of time it took to evacuate the building was a shortcoming.
Finally, the relative secrecy of the investigation and the withholding of all materials and documents used by NIST to arrive at the study's conclusions is very disturbing. These materials should be made available to professionals to further study and to analyze, and to question and verify the findings according to the scientific method. And they should not be locked away in the National Archives or anywhere else. I certainly hope that I could call on the Science Committee to help unlock this information for the American public in the future.
The key elements of the western scientific method according to the wikilink were summarized in part 1. Four key elements underlying scientific inquiry are:
1) Must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.
2) Consists of systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.
3) Scientific researchers propose hypotheses as explanations of phenomena, and design experimental studies to test these hypotheses. These steps must be repeatable, to predict future results.
4) Expectation of full disclosure is to document, archive and share all data and methodology so they are available for careful scrutiny by other scientists. This allows statistical measures of the reliability of these data to be established.
The NIST investigation failed in all 4 key areas vital to reasoning through a scientific method. Since key information concerning the visual record and the NIST simulations of the collapse initiation processes were not available to other researchers, it was impossible for other sources to confirm or fact-check their findings. Moreover, once elements of the visual record were released through FOIA requests years later, it can be seen that there were myriad mistakes made in interpreting visual evidence, as this book clearly demonstrates.
In conclusion, for these and for other reasons, I feel that government must take a larger role in developing stronger codes and standards for building and public safety, by being a true resource to the code industry. Government representatives should be part of code writing groups, to provide advice and guidance, and to help develop standards and practices. As it stands now, it is largely a battle of the do-gooders, like me and the Skyscraper Safety Advisors, versus the business interests, in a never-ending conflict regarding public safety.
This speaker recognized they were being resisted by business interests. They are clearly not satisfied with the NIST results but at that time they had no way to fact-check any of the NIST claims through independent obseration using the visual record. They had no access to the visual record of events since the NIST was in sole possession of it.
STATEMENT OF DR. WILLIAM JEFFREY, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY:
And I will now summarize our work to date and our plans for the future. We announced this investigation saying it would be thorough, open, and result in meaningful recommendations.
It was thorough. NIST was able to acquire and test enough steel from the buildings to have confidence in our findings. We acquired more than 7,000 photos and 150 hours of videotape. We interviewed nearly 1,200 survivors and first responders, and we gained access to key information about the building's design and construction.
But nobody outside if the NIST had access to that information for years after the investigation. The computer simulations upon which the NIST findings rest is still not available for review in 2013.
It was also open. We sought public comment on our plans even before we began the investigation. We held numerous briefings for the public, published reports on our progress, and solicited comments. We sought input from an advisory committee of outside experts. We established a special liaison with the families of victims, and communicated regularly with the relevant organizations in New York City. This was no academic exercise. We were charged with developing meaningful recommendations, and we have done that. Using the recommendations from this investigation to make improvements in the way people design, maintain, and use buildings has just begun. NIST is working vigorously with the relevant communities to turn the recommendations into action.
This is contrary to what both Corbett and Quintiere claim during this same hearing, It was clearly not an open, reviewable process.
The direct link between the terrorist-initiated airplane attacks, the ensuing fires, and the collapse of the towers was established through extensive testing, analyses, and computer modeling. Here, you see a model of the aircraft as it enters Tower 1, and the damage that was inflicted as debris and jet fuel spread over multiple floors. These models helped us to estimate the internal damage to the structure and fireproofing that was not visible in photos and videos taken from the outside.
Of all 3 buildings, Tower 1 was the most extreme example of the NIST misrepresenting the collapse initiation process. NIST descriptions of the collapse initiation movement are available in part 3.2 of my "book". It is as if they are describing some other building. The information required to make accurate mappings from the visual record was unavailable at the time of this hearing and would not become available until they were released through FOIA requests years later.
In WTC 1, the fires weakened the core columns and caused the floors on the south side of the building to sag. The floors pulled the heated south perimeter columns inward, reducing their capacity to support the building above. Their neighboring columns quickly became overloaded as columns on the south wall buckled. The top section of the building tilted to the south and began its descent. The time from aircraft impact to collapse initiation was largely determined by how long it took for the fires to weaken the building core and to reach the south side of the building and weaken the perimeter columns and floors.
This information is based on incorrect interpretations of the visual record. Correct mappings of the initiation movements show multiple indications of a core-led failure, which is contrary to what he is claiming in his testimony.
NIST found no corroborating evidence for alternative hypotheses suggesting that the WTC towers were brought down by controlled demolition using explosives planted prior to September 11, 2001. NIST also did not find any evidence that missiles were fired at or hit the towers. Instead, photographs and videos from several angles clearly showed that the collapse initiated at the fire and impact floors and that the collapse progressed from the initiating floors downward, until the dust clouds obscured the view.
Anyone who wishes can verify the NIST completely misrepresented the early movement of and overpressurizations within the building. This information is provable and is within the visual record.
Group 1. Increased Structural Integrity
The standards for estimating the load effects of potential hazards (e.g., progressive collapse, wind) and the design of structural systems to mitigate the effects of those hazards should be improved to enhance structural integrity.
Recommendation 1. NIST recommends that: (1) progressive collapse be prevented in buildings through the development and nationwide adoption of consensus standards and code provisions, along with the tools and guidelines needed for their use in practice; and (2) a standard methodology be developedâ€"supported by analytical design tools and practical design guidanceâ€"to reliably predict the potential for complex failures in structural systems subjected to multiple hazards.
There was no concept of the role of the OOS structure in the progressive collapse acknowledged in the NIST reports or in the hearing. As will be shown in the next section, this lack of information led to a series of misrepresentations of the collapse progression processes in ASCE peer reviewed literature that persists to this day. Within the reports and follow-up ASCE literature, progressive collapse is only discussed in the most generic terms with no acknowledgement of the unique design of the building or the actual mass flow during the collapse processes.
Currently all available literature with the exception of this book offers completely generic descriptions of the collapse processes. Whole cottage industries were spawned within the void of information available to the public. The conventional truth movement or people like Jim Fetzer could not ignore the ROOSD concept in 2012 if the NIST didn't do so before him in 2005, 2006 and ASCE publications did not do it from 2007 to the present day. Because the progressions are described in only the most generic terms by NIST in 2005 and Bazant in 2007 to the present, Richard Gage and David Chandler can do the same thing today.
My name is James Harris. I am President of a structural consulting firm in Denver, Colorado. I have long been involved in the development of standards for structural engineering practice here in the U.S. as well as internationally. I have chaired the ASCE/SEI committee that prepares the standard ASCE 7 Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures for the last three editions. I am also a member of the American Concrete Institute Committee that prepares the standard for the design of building structures, and the American Institute of Steel Construction Committee that prepares the standard for the design of steel buildings.
ASCE/SEI commends NIST for their thorough study and for the thought-provoking findings and recommendations. We also commend the Congress for providing the funding for this worthwhile study. Even though the first lesson of September 11 is to direct resources to prevention of such attacks, we see important lessons from this tragedy for improving the performance of buildings in emergencies that are more ordinary than the attacks of September 11.
ASCE supports careful consideration of all of NIST's recommendations by the broad community that develops standards and building codes for this country. NIST's study built upon and extended the work of the Building Performance Study Team that ASCE formed and FEMA supported immediately after the tragedy, and which produced their report in 2002.
Which is why the ASCE deserves as much blame as the NIST for their poor mappings of observable and measurable building behavior. The NIST could not have done what they did without ASCE support. The ASCE are effectively the "peer reviewers" of the NIST reports. They, together, are the top of the technical hierarchy and are those within our societies most responsible for misrepresenting the collapse initiation processes of all 3 collapsed buildings and the collapse progression processes of the twin towers.
Some of the other recommendations will require considerable time to develop a knowledge base in the affected professions.
It is 2013 and ASCE is on record as having no specific ROOSD-type concept in the case of the collapses of the twin towers. Many confessionals are offered in their peer reviewed publications, yet they contain no specific concept of global mass movement in the twin towers.
ASCE/SEI feels that some of the NIST recommendations need further clarification and discussion.
With no non-generic concept of the largest chains of progressive floor collapses ever and an attitude of "core-led, perimeter-led...what's the difference?", I would hope so.
Our profession is responsible for protecting the public to the best of our abilities and to seek new technologies to help us meet that charge.
Correct. That is their responsibility.
While not every NIST recommendation may be ready for enactment as is, ASCE/SEI is moving forward with discussion of the issues and their implications for structural engineering practice, and looks forward to working closely with NIST to clarify the application of these recommendations.
NIST Recommendations Referenced:
Recommendation 1. NIST recommends that: (1) progressive collapse should be prevented in buildings through the development and nationwide adoption of consensus standards and code provisions, along with the tools and guidelines needed for their use in practice; and (2) a standard methodology should be developedâ€"supported by analytical design tools and practical design guidanceâ€"to reliably predict the potential for complex failures in structural systems subjected to multiple hazards.
If neither the NIST nor the ASCE literature specifically identifies a ROOSD-type process in the WTC twin towers, how is this possible?
STATEMENT OF PROF. GLENN P. CORBETT, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF FIRE SCIENCE, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE:
Thank you, Chairman Boehlert. Chairman Boehlert and Members of the House Committee on Science, my name is Glenn Corbett. I want to thank you for the opportunity to testify again before you concerning NIST and the World Trade Center disaster investigation. Before I discuss the investigation, I would first like to extend my thanks to you, Chairman Boehlert, and the House Science Committee, for initiating the creation of the National Construction Safety Team Act, and shepherding it through Congress to final approval by President Bush. The American public is the beneficiary of this critical legislation, and will reap the benefits of your labors through the savings of lives and the construction of safer buildings.
Additionally, I must also note that although I am a Member of the Federal Advisory Committee to the National Construction Safety Team, I do not speak on their behalf. My testimony represents only my own opinions. I recommend that the House Committee on Science review the annual reports of the NCST Advisory Committee for details on their perspective.
Over three years have passed since NIST began its investigation into the World Trade Center disaster. We now have come to the conclusion of this $16 million effort of a search for answers about what happened in the twin towers. The investigation has taken much longer than anticipated, including the fact that the World Trade Center Building Number 7 investigation will likely not be completed until next summer.
It wasn't completed for another 3 years.
Although NIST has done quite a bit of work and has amassed many thousands of pages of useful research, I feel that the investigation has fallen far short of what is needed. From the beginning, I had hoped for a true investigation with a tight set of specific recommendations at the conclusion, that could be immediately passed to our national code writing groups and trade associations. Instead of passing a blazing torch of detailed recommendations, this lengthy marathon race has resulted in NIST giving our model code writing groups only a handful of flickering embers that, although generally good in principle, are entirely too vague. The model code writing groups now have to wait even longer while NIST hires an outside organization to prepare a set of recommendations that actually can be assimilated into our construction codes.
Worse yet, it was not possible for anyone to verify whether those flickering embers were consistent with the visual record. This book demonstrates they were not.
During the course of the WTC investigation, I have had serious concerns about some of the findings and conclusions that NIST has drawn. Other individuals, including some people on the Federal Advisory Committee, have also had concerns. While this hearing is not the appropriate place to debate technical issues, I would suggest that a more formal mechanism be developed to officially address comments from the public. Such a protocol should include the technical basis for which NIST rejects or accepts the content of a public comment.
It should also include disclosure of the information they used to come to their conclusions so that claims can be independently verified.
Overall, I have been disappointed by the lack of aggressiveness that has characterized not only the World Trade Center investigation, but the Rhode Island Station Nightclub investigation as well. Instead of a gumshoe inquiry that has left no stone unturned, I believe the investigations were treated more like research projects, in which they waited for information to flow to them. In both investigations, they were reluctant to use the subpoena given to them under the NCST Act. To some extent, this lack of assertiveness was likely the result of legal opinions given to NIST by staff attorneys.
Recently, this situation was greatly amplified by NIST's reluctance to respond to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita under the banner of the NCST Act. I suggested to NIST that they assemble an NCST team for Katrina before it struck the Gulf Coast. They actually sent a handful of people a week after Katrina hit, and only recently sending a much larger group of researchers to the area. Curiously, they have decided not to respond under the NCST Act.
To their credit, NIST has brought many talented people to the WTC investigation. They have expended a tremendous amount of effort, compiled a great deal of technical data, pushed the technical limits of computer models, and identified the general areas of concern where improvements in safety regulation and practice are called for. They are to be commended for their extraordinary research efforts, given the immensity of the project.
More detailed set of mappings through which one can fact-check some of the NIST claims demonstrates there were many mistakes made even in these areas.
Where do we go from here with regard to the World Trade Center? The ball is in NIST's court, and it is up to them, with their contractor, to quickly whittle the desirable but too general recommendations into well-defined code language that can be quickly moved through the model code review process. I strongly encourage them to be bold, use their best engineering judgment, and come up with clear and concise code language. High rise fire safety and safety in general is held in the balance.
High rise fire safety and safety in general was most certainly held in the balance. This is why nondisclosure of inputs and methods which can be subject to independent verification is unexcusable.
When I look to the future of the NCST Act, sadly, I find it necessary to recommend that serious consideration be given to finding a new agency to implement the Act. I don't think that NIST is the right place for the NCST. Their nonaggressiveness, their absence of investigative instinct, and the palatable lack of interest they have shown in the Act has brought me to this conclusion. NIST is an organization of exceptional scientists and engineers, not detectives.
Short of creating an entirely new Construction Safety Team Board, I would recommend that serious consideration be given to moving the NCST to the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board. They are a close fit. They investigate explosions and chemical disasters in and around structures. They deal with many of the same code writing bodies that NIST deals with, including some of the organizations represented on this panel today. More importantly, they are solely an investigative agency that issues recommendations. Perhaps their purview could be expanded to include the NCST Act.
Some of them, like the one I happen to be the most concerned with, number one, increasing the structural integrity in buildings, and providing resistance to progressive collapse. That is not an easy nut to crack. In fact, there, we probably even need more basic knowledge. And so, it is going to take a long time before everything that NIST has uncovered and recommended is addressed, and it will not all happen in one fell swoop.
Resistance to progressive collapse with no specific identification of a ROOSD-type process and with the WTC progressive collapses written in only the most generic of terms is not possible.
And after the NIST investigation began, we set up a High Rise Safety Advisory Committee to look at high rise safety, and to be ready for the NIST report, because we recognized that it is really society's role to take the recommendations, the science, and set the thresholds, and determine which buildings should these recommendations apply to, and to weigh that and balance the risk and the safety as it is.
Were we frustrated that the recommendations were not more specific? In some cases, yes, because the other investigation that we were familiar with was the Station Nightclub investigation, and that investigation done by NIST was much more specific than that World Trade Center investigation. So, we feel that they could have been more specific in some cases, but again, you know, just by its very nature, the investigation, the largest building failure investigation, I think, is going to come up with some science that needs to be studied and thought about, and all the viewpoints need to be brought in. And that is what we are doing.
With no concept of the largest chain of progressive floor collapses ever and the vulnerability of OOS design, it sounds like the High Rise Safety Advisory Committee remains quite ignorant of the details of the twin towers progressive collapses.
It is a mistake to take recommendations, the science, with no capacity to verify or examine it. After all, that is what science is, and without the vital role of fact-checking or full disclosure, it ceases to be science.
Well, it is good to know that we are moving forward on several fronts, but we are impatient, understandably. A lot of people are impatient, understandably, and a lot of people want action as quickly as possible. And I am reminded of another issue, acid rain, which is one of my pet concerns, and people kept calling for more studies, more studies, more conversation, more give and take. And I remember Governor Kean, at the time, who ironically headed the 9/11 Commission, Governor Kean saying if all we do is continue to study the problem, we will end up with the best documented environmental disaster in history.
So, I think we are all very anxious to get going with some degree of specificity, with something that is tangible, that we can get a hold of, and we appreciate the fact that some of these things are going to be time-consuming, but time is a wasting.
It is now 2013. Time is already a wasted.
From the quote:
we will end up with the best documented environmental disaster in history.
Not in this case. In retrospect, there was an incredibly poor documentation of the events, but nobody could independently check the quality of the investigation due to nondisclosure of the visual record in possession of the NIST and the secrecy surrounding their comupter modeling of the collapse events.
Dr. Jeffrey, I was struck by your testimony and by Ms. McNabb's about whether NIST recommendations for building codes should apply to every building, every commercial building the same. Most of the discussions about our terrorism risk have assumed that there is some possibility that there would be truly a random attack on any garden variety commercial building in America, but the most likely targets are what homeland security has called iconic buildings, buildings of high symbolic value. The World Trade Center. The Pentagon, obviously both of those. The John Hancock Center. The Empire State Building. Dr. Jeffrey, I have practiced law for a while, in a garden variety six story office building in the North Hills area of Raleigh called the Landmark Center. It was Class B space. That was fine. I had kind of a Class B law practice. Why on Earth would you expect the Landmark Center on Six Forks Road in Raleigh to have the same standards of preparation against terrorist attack that the John Hancock Center would have?
Is the John Hancock building in Chicago ROOSD susceptible? Is the Sears tower susceptible to the same type of chain floor collapses? These are important questions to have answered.
Can Dr Jeffery, the head of the NIST, answer this simple question?
Thank you, Mr. Miller. Actually, the actual building codes that get adopted are at the State and local level. First, you know, that is part of the political process within the State and local governments as to what is appropriate for that specific setting.
Secondly, in the report, NIST does recommend that the owners of the iconic buildings, much like the ones you have mentioned, may want to view a higher level of preparedness than the averageâ€"the report specifically does not try to recommend that every building in the Nation be able to survive an attack with a fully loaded 747. And so, it does try to make that distinction, and calls out the iconic buildings separately.
He has no idea how to answer in terms of the specific susceptibility of the structural design.
The exchange continues:
Should that be something dealt with byâ€"that sliver of commercial properties, that are the most likely terrorism targets, should those be dealt with by Congress, rather than leaving that to local building codes?
Mr. JEFFREY. I am not sure that I am actually qualified to respond to where the State and local versus federal roles should plan.
Mr. MILLER. All right. Well, Ms. McNabb, what is your thought on this? Do you think that the Landmark Center ought to have essentially the same standards applied to it that apply to the John Hancock Center?
Chairman BOEHLERT. Let me interrupt here. Now, I won't take this from your time, but you know, this is not just about terrorist attack. It is about wind, it is about fire, it is about a whole bunch of other things that may not involve any terrorist activity, but we know we don't know enough, and I am not quite certain we know what we don't know, but we know we don't know a hell of a lot, and with that, Dr. Jeffreyâ€"â€"
He completely avoids the structural specifics of the role of ROOSD in the WTC collapses.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Let me ask the other panel members. What do you think about that? I mean, should we have more information publicly available for review and examination and comment and response? Mr. Corbett.
Mr. CORBETT: Definitely. The answer is yes to that. That has been one of my concerns on the advisory committee, is that for example, all the information dealing with the first person accounts, the interviews that NIST had conducted, at one point, there was discussion about destroying that information. No decision had been made, but that was a possibility at one point, and I think now, NIST has basically said at this point, it won't be destroyed, but we are still not sure how it is going to be disclosed. And I think for the benefit of myself and other people that are, weren't part of the investigation, that we are kind of on the outside looking in. This is critical information for them for other research they are doing also. But also, to verify the conclusions, the findings, and of course, the recommendations that were, that come about. So, critically important to get that information, as much of it that can be given.
Nobody had the opportunity to verify their claims and findings, and when pieces did become available through FOIA requests, some basic claims were found to be incorrect.
The more science that NIST can give us, and the more information that we have, I think the better off it will be for the public, because they will understand that building regulations don't just come out of a vacuum and from the building police, that there is a reason for, perhaps, raising the cost of construction, or perhaps making some trade-offs, or doing things differently.
Chairman BOEHLERT: In almost all cases, more information, rather than less, is desirable if you are reviewing and serious about making recommendations to prevent something in the future from happening.
Did you want to add something?
Mr. JEFFREY: Just a short statement, that we are absolutely committed to that. We agree with that. I think the entire process that we have tried to follow has been as open as possible, as described. The number of open meetings, the number of comments received. And we are committed to trying to release as much of the data as we legally can, and so, we know, we approve and agree with the statements.
So where are the collapse initiation simulations of WTC1 and 2 to compare to observables?
You made, I think, a very potent point, which is that there was a sensitivity that the NIST study was not detailed enough, that it seemed to have some political ramifications. They may not have been on the ground, and many of us have been to Ground Zero. I serve on the Homeland Security Committee, as many of the Members of this Science Committee does, and we have a very visual sense of the need.
Can you share with us what more you would want, would have wanted NIST to do, or where were the political correctness issues that you think really didn't do the appropriate, or did not give the appropriate response?, particularly as you have faced a personal loss in the loss of your son, and you have my deepest sympathy?
Ms. REGENHARD. Thank you very much.
First of all, I just want to preface my comments with saying I often introduce myself in the way that I am basically just a little mother from the Bronx, and really, that is what I am, and I am not a technical person. However, I do have, over the last four years, you know, the input from my wonderful technical advisory panel, which represents some excellent, excellent people in the academic fields, and certainly, you know, in structural engineering, fire protection, architecture, and evacuation specialists.
Soâ€"but to get back to your question, you know, political correctness. I have seen, and the other families of the victims have seen the aftermath of 9/11 to be somewhat definitely flavored by political correctness in many, many ways, in so many ways. But certainly, with the NIST investigation, I mean, I understand that it is a wonderful organization of scientists, and scientists are not trained to be like NYPD detectives. There is a professional and academic way that these kinds of organizations deal with one and with other entities. And you have other professional people in that investigation that should have been really interrogated, such as the Port Authority, such as their building plans. You know, the Port Authority never turned over their building plans until there was an article about it in the front page of the New York Times condemning them, or not condemning them, but accusing them of really not coming forward. That is one of the examples. People like the chief structural engineer for the first World Trade Center, you know, his work should have been investigated, because after all, he was responsible for the design of that building, and the subsequent, and yet, instead of that, he was sort of dealt with in a friendly basis, and he was actually put on the payroll to explain his plans and all that.
So, there were these very, you know, maybe because I am a layperson, I can't understand why these entities that should have been scrutinized and investigated were sort of taken in and became part of the investigation. You know, that is just one of the examples of where the families were really, really deeply concerned about that. And also, the avoidance of certain things that were not politically correct, like the avoidance of blaming anyone for anything. I mean, we all teach our children to obey the law, and to respect authority, and not to break any laws, but yet, when we have this investigation of the, I would say the needless deaths of nearly 3,000 people, no one is to be blamed. It is handled so gingerly. I mean, there is a reason why nearly 3,000 people are dead, and I feel the majority of them needlessly, but yet, the approach of these investigations is very, very tentative, and no one wants to put anyone on the line, and no one wants to look into what was the effect of the Port Authority immunities from building and fire codes?
If someone said to me what are the two major grievous examples of what went wrong on 9/11 in those buildings? I would say the two things are the Port Authority exemptions and immunities from New York City building and fire codes, and the wholesale failure of the FDNY radio communications, and the wholesale failure of the Emergency Management System of the City of New York and the Port Authority. And these are the crux of the matter. This is the bottom line. Yet, these are the issues that were, you know, skirted around and, you know, tiptoeing through the tulips, instead ofâ€"and still, today, I have to fault both the 9/11 Commission and the NIST investigation for not taking a stand, for not saying that in our country, no building should be above the law, especially the Port Authority buildings that were the tallest and largest buildings in the world, that at that time, was built to contain the largest number of people in the world, and yet, those buildings were allowed to be exempt and immune from building and fire codes, essentially above the law, and now, we are allowing the Port Authority to do the same thing all over again.
The new World Trade Center and the memorial, and every single building down there on that property will be just as exempt and immune from every single New York City building and fire code as the first one. That is an abomination. That is a sin. That is an outrage against humanity. And you know, I am sorry to get emotional. I expected the NIST investigation and the 9/11 Commission to take a stand on that, but you know what, it is only the average Joe Q. Citizen. When we break the law, we have to pay the consequences, but when we have these huge organizations breaking the law, I feel they are not held to the same standard as an average citizen, and that hurts.
From these comments certain key words and phrases can be extracted:
avoidance of blame
no one wants to put anyone on the line
no one wants to look into...
tiptoeing through the tulips
not taking a stand
an outrage against humanity
should have been investigated
sort of dealt with in a friendly basis
This person did not know how poorly the NIST extracted phenomena from the visual record, as there was no way to verify NIST claims at that time.
Chairman BOEHLERT.â€"gentlelady's time has expired.
I would report that we anticipated, in developing the legislation that authorized the report and everything, we anticipated that there would be a reluctance on the part of some to provide information. There would be inertia. And that is why we gave subpoena power to NIST, to go in and get the information, and it was not NIST's role to assign blame. It is NIST's role to investigate, to determine what went wrong, to make recommendations on how to go forward, and that is what we are determined to work cooperatively with Dr. Jeffrey and the NIST people, to make certain it happens the way we want it to happen, and that we don't drag our feet, or we don't issue a report, and sort of say gee, we did a great job. We have this report, and have it not as specific as we would like, or there be a lack of follow through.
Yet isn't that exactly what they did?
Did they determine what went wrong? Did they discover and report anything like a ROOSD process? Did they map the collapse initiation sequences correctly?
Mr. CORBETT. Yes, thank you. I commented on this during my testimony, and I still believe the NCST would have been useful down there, especially given the fact that the problems we have had with the World Trade Center investigation, you know, securing evidence, getting evidence early on. I mean, we were very heavily reliant on computer models to tell us what happened to the Twin Towers, because we lacked that physical evidence, because there wasn't an Act when the Trade Center was hit.
Did the computer models match the behavior as seen in the visual record? No. This is verifiable.
The simulations are still not available for independent inspection.
Q8. Dr. Jeffrey, some of Ms. Regenhard's and Dr. Corbett's criticisms of NIST's reluctance to use the full authority of the National Construction Safety Team (NCST) Act are echoed by the NCST Advisory Board. What is your response?
A8. NIST believes that it has used appropriately the authority of the National Construction Safety Team Act. NIST has obtained all available documents and evidence essential to carrying out a thorough and credible technical investigation. NIST believes the findings from its investigation are well justified on the basis of those documents and evidence.
Were any independent researchers allowed to check your work? Was anyone allowed to verify the claimed collapse initiation sequences around which the structural recommendations revolve?
STATEMENT BY JAMES G. QUINTIERE
PROFESSOR, DEPARTMENT OF FIRE PROTECTION ENGINEERING
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
In my opinion, the WTC investigation by NIST falls short of expectations by not definitively finding cause, by not sufficiently linking recommendations of specificity to cause, by not fully invoking all of their authority to seek facts in the investigation, and by the guidance of government lawyers to deter rather than develop fact finding.
I have over 35 years of fire research in my experience. I worked in the fire program at NIST for 19 years, leaving as a division chief. I have been at the University of Maryland since. I am a founding member and past-Chair of the International Association for Fire Safety Scienceâ€"the principal world forum for fire research. I have followed the investigation from onset of the incident, as I was about to teach fire investigators at the ATF Academy (FLETC) in Georgia on the morning of 9/11. I joined the SSC team of Sally and Monica after we mutually discovered each other by speaking our concerns on the WTC collapse. I have published in the area of the WTC incident, our students built a scale-model of the fire on a floor of the North Tower, and I have followed the NIST activities from before their special funding. I assisted NIST early in 2002 in viewing photographs and video held by the NY Times. I had wished for clear and complete analyses and evidence to determine the full cause of the factors behind and the reasons for the collapse of the WTC buildings, as they bear on the fire safety design of current and future buildings. I am also concerned about the lack of sufficient government support for fire research and its implementation in fire safety design, codes and standards.
Concerns about the NIST Investigation
Scientists at NIST should be commended for their individual efforts in rising to the occasion of the WTC investigation. NIST should be commended for organizing an activity of this scale for the first time. However, there are some issues of concern that I will summarize. All of these have been submitted to NIST, but never acknowledged or answered. I will list some of these.
1. Why is not the design process of assigning fire protection to the WTC towers fully called out for fault? The insulation thickness of the truss members varied from 0.5 inches at its construction, changed to a specification of 1.5 inches in 1995, and was taken on its face as 2.5 inches for the North tower fire floors based on a PA report. This extraordinary range of thicknesses bears an in depth investigation. Why were no hearings held or witness testimonies heard on this critical design process?
2. Why were not alternative collapse hypotheses investigated and discussed as NIST had stated repeatedly that they would do? Their current explanation for the collapse of the towers is critically based on an assumption that the insulation was removed from the steel in the path of the aircraft, particularly the core columns. NIST does not show calculations or experiments to satisfactorily confirm that the insulation was removed in the core. As some large aircraft components went directly through the buildings, and NIST indicates the others were splintered on impact, can they explain why these small splinters could still denude the steel?
3. Spoliation of a fire scene is a basis for destroying a legal case in an investigation. Most of the steel was discarded, although the key elements of the core steel were demographically labeled. A careful reading of the NIST report shows that they have no evidence that the temperatures they predict as necessary for failure are corroborated by findings of the little steel debris they have. Why hasn't NIST declared that this spoliation of the steel was a gross error?
4. NIST used computer models that they said have never been used in such an application before and are the state of the art. For this they should be commended for their skill. But the validation of these modeling results is in question. Others have computed aspects with different conclusions on the cause mechanism of the collapse. Moreover, it is common in fire investigation to compute a time-line and compare it to known events. NIST has not done that.
5. Testing by NIST has been inconclusive. Although they have done fire tests of the scale of several work stations, a replicate test of at least & of a WTC floor would have been of considerable value. Why was this not done? Especially, as we have pointed out to NIST that they may have underestimated the weight of the furnishings in the North Tower by a factor of 3. As fire effects on structure depend on temperature and time, this likely longer burning time is significant in the NIST analyses. Other tests of the trusses in the UL furnaces show that the steel attains critical temperatures in short times, and these temperatures correspond to NIST's own computation of truss failure for a single truss. Why have these findings seemingly been ignored in the NIST analyses?
6. The critical collapse of WTC 7 is relegated to a secondary role, as its findings will not be complete for yet another year. It was clear at the last NIST Advisory Panel meeting in September that this date may not be realistic, as NIST has not demonstrated progress here. Why has NIST dragged on this important investigation?
On the Recommendations
The eight group-headings of the NIST recommendations are not specific, as they cannot connect directly to their findings. Instead they speak to developing, improving or advancing technology for safety from fire. Hence, they really cry out for more research, technology adaptation, and education with respect to fire. This is understandable as the NIST role has been to be a leader in research, and a source of new knowledge for codes and standards. The Science Committee and the Congress should take note of the needs underlying the nature of these recommendations. They are more a need for research to assist standards.
NFPA testified at the Hearing that the implementation of new performance-based codes requires tools that have not yet been developed and nor are there sufficient people to understand how to use them. Congressman Boehlert pointed out to Sally Regenhard many are ''do-gooders'' that serve on the standard committees, but few come to the table with technical information that is needed for a full discussion. This transfer of technical information for standards in fire safety is only a role that government can effectively support. The Science Committee should thoughtfully consider how that support could be implemented.
I point out some alarming facts. The fire program at NIST received a boost in the 1970's under the confluence of several forces: NSF advancing $2 million per year for fire research, consumer product safety legislation (CPSC), and the funding advanced by industry and government agencies for fire research (about $ 2â€"3 million per year). This funding has considerably dropped in real dollars. The NIST fire program continues to survive by taking contracts from government and the private sector that could otherwise support academic or private industry. The extramural research program of NIST, inherited from NSF, has shrunk from effectively $2 million to about $500k in 1970 dollars. The NSF has defaulted a fire program to NIST so investigators in academia have no program to turn to at NSF. The NASA microgravity program had taken up the slack in fire research beginning about 1985, but its current fire research budget has been decimated in a shift from space station needed research to a Mars human flight program. The Science Committee has oversight over NSF, NASA, and NIST. It should investigate how it can best support the needed fire research.
NIST speaks to the need for education. I left NIST to contribute to that goal. The U.S. produces about 50 fire protection engineers per year when about 500 are really needed. If the fire service would incorporate fire engineers this number would double. There is a big lack of knowledge here, and it contributes to an infrastructure of fire safety that is currently fraught with good intentions, special interests, and ignorance. The Science Committee should recognize this deficiency.
James G. Quintiere
The John L. Bryan Professor
Fire Protection Engineering
University of Maryland
It is interesting how only a very few people on record within these transcripts appear examine the NIST reports critically. A family member of one of the victims (Ms. REGENHARD) said a few things that, with the gift of hindsight that we now have, seem quite penetrating and true, as did Mr Quintiere and Mr Corbett. Once again, it is important to remember that the people giving testimony were not aware of misrepresentations highlighted in sections 3.2, 3.3, or 3.4 or of the collapse progression mechanisms described in section 2.1 of this book. At that time there was no access to the visual record, as the NIST researchers were the only ones allowed access to it.
Recall, the original purpose of the NIST reports were to: Determine why and how WTC 1 and WTC 2 collapsed following the initial impacts of the aircraft and why and how WTC 7 collapsed. Specifically (in the very words the 2002 hearing participants used):
The need for the NIST investigation to produce concrete, specific details of the collapses. The importance of avoiding vague, general conclusions. The importance of avoiding conclusions of a generalized nature. The need for a comprehensive, specific and complete understanding of the chain of events that led to collapse. The key, the fundamental purpose, lies in the details. The need for the investigation to center around producing detailed proposals for improvements in building and fire codes. It is essential to learn exactly what happened to these structures. The comprehensive nature of the study is essential. The most critical thing is the need to understand the collapses in much better detail.
Those seem to be excellent goals, but they were not carried out according to the wishes of the participants of the 2002 hearings. To understand what particulars were missing from the final reports, the key elements of the western scientific method presented in section 1.1 are reviewed. The western scientific method:
1) Must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.
2) Consists of systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.
3) Scientific researchers propose hypotheses as explanations of phenomena, and design experimental studies to test these hypotheses. These steps must be repeatable, to predict future results.
4) Expectation of full disclosure is to document, archive and share all data and methodology so they are available for careful scrutiny by other scientists. This allows statistical measures of the reliability of these data to be established.
From this list and by reviewing the myriad mistakes made by the NIST which were shown in sections 3.2, 3.3, and 3.4, it is quite easy to spot how the NIST was able to produce their reports with so little independent review.
1) The observable, empirical and measurable evidence of building behavior was gathered very poorly.
2) The NIST formulated, tested, and modified their collapse initiation hypotheses guided by very poor observations and measurements.
3) Independent researchers were unable to repeat the collapse initiation scenarios given by the NIST because the computer modeling and visual recod of collapse events was never released or not released until years later.
4) The NIST did not fully disclose or document, archive and share all data and methodology so they are available for careful scrutiny by other scientists. This did not allow for statistical measures of the reliability of these data to be established.
The NIST certainly were not the only ones misrepresenting the WTC collapses to the general public. In the years 2007-2008 a series of papers within ASCE peer reviewed publications were also freely misrepresenting the collapse processes of the twin towers. If one considers the transition in focus from 2002 to 2009, it is quite stunning how the twin towers came to be misrepresented to the public at large through multiple sources, the core two sources being the NIST reports and ASCE publications examined in the next section.