Steel Not Seen As Factor in WTC
GAITHERSBURG, Md. (AP) -- Early tests on steel beams from the
World Trade Center show they generally met or were stronger than
design requirements, ruling them out as a contributing cause of the
collapse of the towers, federal investigators said Wednesday.
Engineers with the National Institute of Standards and Technology
have conducted preliminary tests on some of the 236 pieces of steel
from the wreckage, said Frank Gayle, who is leading NIST's review of
The tests found that, typical for construction steel used in the
1960s when the World Trade Center was erected, the steel beams
exceeded requirements to bear 36,000 pounds per square inch. Often
they were capable of bearing around 42,000 pounds per square
"What that is showing us is that the steel that was applied
certainly met the specifications, but was also significantly higher
in some instances," lead investigator Shyam Sunder said.
A group of victims' families, the Skyscraper Safety Campaign, had
complained that a majority of the beams from the site were quickly
shipped off and reprocessed into new steel before it could be
Sunder cautioned the NIST's results were preliminary, but said if
those findings continue in further testing, that would rule out weak
steel as a contributing factor in the collapse.
The steel testing was discussed Wednesday at the end of a two-day
meeting with NIST officials about the Sept. 11 investigation.
The two-year probe is designed to create a model of the fire and
collapse, enabling NIST, which is part of the Commerce Department,
to make recommendations for improved fire and safety codes in
The Skyscraper Safety Campaign's Sally Regenhard, whose
firefighter son was killed at the site, said she doubted NIST's
"I don't really feel that they have a representative sample of
all the steel," Regenhard said.
James Quintieri, a professor at the University of Maryland who is
consulting with the Skyscraper Safety Campaign, said key questions,
about the steel's strength under intense heat, and the overall
design of the building, remain unanswered.
In coming months, NIST will recreate sections of the building's
floor trusses, and conduct large-scale fire endurance tests on them
to determine how the floors of the towers responded to the twin
stresses of impact by a jet plane and a continuing fire.
The NIST group also discussed its investigation of the Rhode
Island nightclub fire last February, which killed 100 people.
Investigators will use the results of their investigation to make
recommendations for improvements to fire and building codes.
At the meeting, some complained investigators were being delayed
by prosecutors and civil lawyers denying them access to critical
information, including the exact makeup of the soundproofing foam
that burst into flames at the nightclub.
Lead investigator Bill Grosshandler said his team has to date
gathered only about 20 percent of the information on the makeup of
different materials in the building, but said it was still early in
the fact-gathering process.
Others, including NIST's Dr. Jack Snell, seemed frustrated with
the agency's access to information. The investigation is proceeding
under an act of Congress passed last year aimed to use NIST
expertise to probe building disasters.
"The whole motivation for this law was timely investigations,"
said Snell. "We're not doing timely investigations."
On the Net:
National Institute of Standards and Technology: http://www.nist.gov/
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