Sunday, August 12, 2012

SUNDAY IN THE BASEMENT

I should be upstairs watching the golf tournament. Tomorrow, I’ll wish I had been. All the guys will be talking about it and I won’t even know who won.

But here I am at the computer, Googling for a fare thee well, and all because someone took the trouble to post a detailed comment on my last blog.

So here’s what I found out:

NIST stands for National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Founded in 1901, NIST is a non-regulatory federal agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce. NIST's mission is to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.

The agency operates in two locations: Gaithersburg, Md., (a 578-acre campus) and Boulder, Colo., (a 208-acre campus). NIST employs about 2,900 scientists, engineers, technicians, and support and administrative personnel..

NIST has an annual budget of nearly a billion dollars.

Derek Israel, the correspondent who commented on my blog, insisted that a final report determined that WTC 7 collapsed because of fire. Period. No mystery, nothing strange or questionable.

So I dug up the report. It came from NIST. Here were its goals:

•Investigate the building construction, the materials used, and the technical conditions that contributed to the outcome of the disaster;
•To serve as the basis for:
o Improvements in the way buildings are designed, constructed, maintained and used
o Improved tools and guidance for industry safety officials
o Recommended revisions to current codes, standards, and practices, and,
o Improved Public Safety.

And here were the Specific Objectives:
1.Determine why and how WTC1 and WTC2 collapsed following the initial impact of the aircraft and why and how WTC7 collapsed.
2.Determine why the injuries were so high or low depending on the location, including all technical aspects of fire protection, occupant behavior, evacuation and emergency response
3.Determine what procedures and practices were used in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of WTC1, WTC2 and WTC7, and,
4.Identify, as specifically as possible, areas of current building and fire codes, standards and practices that warrant revision.

Pardon me, but I find all that stuff bureaucratic gooble de goop. “How and Why the building collapsed?” Not “Did it collapse or did it implode?”

They found no evidence of a blast, and no reason to suspect that a blast occurred.

Still, the Executive Summary of their report starts with this:

“This was the first known instance of the total collapse of a tall building due to fire. The fires in WTC7 were quite different from the fires in 1 and 2. WTC7 was not doused in jet fuel. Large areas of floors were not ignited simultaneously. The fires were similar to those in several tall buildings where the automatic sprinklers failed. Those other buildings did not collapse, while WTC7 succumbed to its fires.”

Finally, the Executive Summary concludes:

“However, the reader should keep in mind that the building and the records kept within it were destroyed and the remains of all the WTC buildings were disposed of before Congressional action and funding was available for this investigation to begin. As a result, there are some facts that could not be discerned, and thus are uncertainties in this accounting.”

Not mysteries, folks. Just “uncertainties.”

3 comments:

  1. How and Why vs Collapse or Implode. Let me propose a hypothetical to show why the NIST goals were properly stated.....(hypothetical) The building was designed properly, but the contractor used an inferior grade of steel beams...or the beams were sold as the specification required, but the required steel heat treatment paperwork was falsified. If you want to keep from repeating an engineering/construction failure you cannot just say it collapsed or imploded....for example...It collapsed because the center support beam between the third and fourth floors failed prior to reaching it's design limit due to fraud by the beam manufacturer. You're trying to dispel a conspiracy. The engineers are trying to avoid a repeat. A real example. A USAF aircraft crashed. The accident board met and determined that it was due to a structural failure. It was further determined that it was properly designed, but a component failed below the design limit. It was determined that a Chinese contractor committed fraud when he certified that the component met the specification. The remaining fasteners from the manufacturing lot were removed from inventory. If the accident board had limited their investigation to,"was it shot down or was it lost due to pilot error" other fatalities would have certainly resulted from the same failure. "bureaucratic gooble de goop".....are you talking about engineering reports or judicial opinions?

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  2. Judge,

    I apologize for making you miss the golf tournament. Hopefully I won't cause you to miss another.

    For those who are curious, the NIST report to which we are referring is: "Final Report on the Collapse of World Trade Center Building 7, Federal Building and Fire Safety Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster", published November 20th, 2008.

    Your blog post would tend to leave the impression that the findings of the NIST report are equivocal when, in fact, they are not. Significantly, you place great weight on the executive summary’s statement that,

    “As a result, there are some facts that could not be discerned and, thus there are uncertainties in this accounting.”

    While failing to acknowledge the very next sentence:

    “Nonetheless, NIST was able to gather sufficient evidence and documentation to conduct a full investigation upon which to reach **firm findings and opinions**. [Emphasis mine]”

    I also take exception to your characterization of a key finding of the report:

    “They found no evidence of a blast, and no reason to suspect that a blast occurred.”

    This statement would leave the impression that a blast may have occurred, but simply left no evidence. In fact, the investigators actively explored every possible scenario in which explosives could have been used to bring down the building. They narrowed the focus of their investigation to the single most plausible hypothetical blast scenario. By “most plausible”, one would still have to suspend disbelief long enough to accept that the bombers were able to tear out walls and make a preliminary cut to column 79 (the support column which failed, leading to collapse) from inside of the office areas of the building without anyone noticing. Once that was done, the building could have been collapsed using only 9 lbs of RDX shaped charges.

    The NIST investigators then applied highly sophisticated and proven modeling software to simulate this blast (which used the least possible amount of explosives that could have collapsed the building) and found that, not only would the blast have been visible outside of the building, but that, even at a distance of .6 miles, the sound of the blast would have been the same as standing next to a jet engine. The report also found that no such sound was recorded by any of the numerous television and video cameras in the area at the time of collapse. The NIST was able to conclude that “there was no demolition-type blast that would have been intense enough to lead to the collapse of WTC 7 on September 11th, 2001.”

    Though the report notes that this is the first known incident of a fire-induced total collapse of a tall building, the report also concluded without reservation that the uncontrolled fires alone did, in fact, cause the collapse of the building. The majority of the report is dedicated to explaining how this happened and providing a probable sequence of events for the collapse.

    Those who read the report beyond the executive summary will also learn the answer to your question “Did it collapse or did it implode?” The answer is to be found, fittingly, in the section titled “Findings”. According to the NIST report, WTC 7 collapsed. In fact, the report even names the type of collapse, which is a “fire-induced progressive collapse”. Specifically, the collapse was initiated as a result of fire-induced buckling of nine stories of floor framing around support column 79.

    My conclusion: no uncertainty to be found in the NIST report.

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  3. Derek makes some very good points, of course. Still one would not have to be an inveterate conspiracy buff to wonder why the only investigation of the WTC7 destruction was done by an arm of the Commerce Department. The 9-11 Commission delved into the politics of the attack and seemed to conclude that it was a very deliberate, carefully planned and well financed assault. In light of the tenants in WTC7 - CIA, DOD and Secret Service - one would suppose that someone must have wondered whether the destruction of WTC7 was deliberate or whether it was just an accidental aftermath of the attack on the twin towers.

    Did the top brass at the CIA or the Defense Department ever wonder if their New York offices had been targeted? If so, were they content to wait until NIST could get the funding to start its investigation?

    It took more than fifty years for the American people to learn that Soviet spies were privy to the development of the atomic bomb. Maybe our great grandchildren will know more about 9-11 than we do.

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