Home : WRH Store : Reader Letters : Advertise : Donate
“When you have a government that spent almost $30 million to investigate Monica Lewinsky and then only spent $10-$15 million to investigate the death of 3,000 people – that is immoral and does not make any sense, and that is exactly what happened with us.” [William Rodriguez, 9/11 survivor]

The FEMA WTC Collapse
Analysis Farce



Learning from 9/11: Understanding the Collapse of the World Trade Center



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.

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 7-12, 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.

In the month that lapsed between the terrorist attacks and the deployment of the BPAT team, a significant amount of steel debris – including most of the steel from the upper floors – was 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 steel – including the suspension trusses from the top of the towers and the internal support columns – were 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.

Experts critical of the current [investigation], including some of those people who are actually conducting it, cite the lack of meaningful financial support and poor coordination with the agencies cleaning up the disaster site. They point out that the current team of 20 or so investigators has no subpoena power and little staff support and has even been unable to obtain basic information like detailed blueprints of the buildings that collapsed. ...

In calling for a new investigation, some structural engineers have said that one serious mistake has already been made in the chaotic aftermath of the collapses: the decision to rapidly recycle the steel columns, beams and trusses that held up the buildings. That may have cost investigators some of their most direct physical evidence with which to try to piece together an answer. ...

Dr. Frederick W. Mowrer, an associate professor in the fire protection engineering department at the University of Maryland, said he believed the decision could ultimately compromise any investigation of the collapses. ''I find the speed with which potentially important evidence has been removed and recycled to be appalling,'' Dr. Mowrer said. [New York Times 12/25/2001]

"Time is short. The piles of high strength steel evidence are being cut into chunks for export to recycling plants in the Far East. The deals with the scrap merchants have already been made."

 WMV video download (215kB)

In summary:

The BPAT team received $600,000 in FEMA funding - this is a drop in the ocean compared to the $50 million set aside by Congress and President Bush to help NASA pay for the investigation into the Columbia shuttle disaster.

The BPAT team was headed by the principal investigator in the FEMA study of the Oklahoma City bombing - this is not a good sign [also note that WTC debris was rapidly removed by CDI who also dealt with the Murrah building].

It took the BPAT team more than 3 weeks to initiate an analysis of WTC debris, and this allowed critical evidence to be removed. The only thing which prevented some of the evidence being destroyed was an independent researcher.

Last, but not least, the City of New York's recycling contract was deemed more important than finding out why 2,749 people died in the twin towers.

The words "cover-up" spring to mind.

See also: The 9/11 WTC Collapses: An Audio-Video Analysis

What Really Happened