Destruction of Evidence
Another characteristic that distinguishes the terrorist incidents from most other large-scale disasters is the terrorist-attack sites are crime scenes. While some fires may be the result of arson and may thus require evidence collection, massive disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes do not. Designation as a crime scene means that the number of groups requiring access increases and the nature of the activities that take place on-site changes. For example, emergency crews need to worry about preserving evidence. This can have important consequences for protecting the health and safety of emergency responders. "When it’s a weapon of mass destruction, hazardous material is the weapon. It’s my crime scene. I don’t want you to come and wash it away or police it up. I want you to leave it there so that I can perform my law-enforcement function—collecting and analyzing and trying to figure out who put it there." —Law-enforcement panel member rand.org
All photographs shown on television, shot-on-site were pre-approved by the FBI. We were shown photographs that were not released for public view. (seau.org)
January 1, 2002 - Fire Engineering has good reason to believe that the "official investigation" blessed by FEMA and run by the [September 12 2001 ASCE Investigation American Society of Civil Engineers] is a half-baked farce that may already have been commandeered by political forces whose primary interests, to put it mildly, lie far afield of full disclosure. -Bill Manning editor of Fire Engineering Magazine fireengineering.com (old link)
Kevin McPadden also highlighted the fact that "vicious security" was quickly set up around certain areas of ground zero and that people were barred from accessing certain areas for no reason and also had their cameras confiscated. jonesreport.com
All statements to the media should be cleared through the NSC [National Security Council] before they are released. -September 12, 2001, e-mail from EPA Deputy Administrator’s Chief of Staff to senior EPA officials According to the EPA Chief of Staff
One particular CEQ official was designated to work with EPA to ensure that clearance was obtained through NSC. The Associate Administrator for the EPA Office of Communications, Education, and Media Relations (OCEMR)3 said that no press release could be issued for a 3- to 4-week period after September 11 without approval from the CEQ contact. salemstate.edu_p24
We see a red light at the intersection of Second Avenue and 57th Street, but since there is no cross traffic we decide to run it. We pursue our scoff-law tendencies down Second Avenue until we are finally halted and asked for credentials at a checkpoint. I display my CUNY ID, and my passenger, Al Leidner, a high-ranking City official, flashes his. Our cargo raises questions, so we inform the sentry of our mission and explain the purpose of three computer-generated maps we have that are just minutes old. Passage is permitted. Several more checkpoints greet us as we head toward the World Trade Center site through a city-scape eerie in its absence of pedestrians, cabs, and almost all vehicular traffic. Fire trucks and police cruisers ply the streets like hornets circling a damaged hive. As searchlights rove the sky in search of unknown objects, we finally arrive at "The Bunker." We gain entry to the structure after rigorous inspection of our personal possessions by more armed officers. Document.htm (cuny.edu)
Bill Manning, then Editor-in-Chief, published an article entitled OUT THE INVESTIGATION which was published in FIRE ENGINEERING MAGAZINE, January 1st 2002. In this article, Manning issued the following public statement: "For more than three months, structural steel from the World Trade Center has been and continues to be cut up and sold for scrap. Crucial evidence that could answer many questions about high-rise building design practices and performance under fire conditions is on the slow boat to China, perhaps never to be seen again in America until you buy your next car. Such destruction of evidence shows the astounding ignorance of government officials to the value of a thorough, scientific investigation of the largest fire-induced collapse in world history. I have combed through our national standard for fire investigation, NFPA 921, but nowhere in it does one find an exemption allowing the destruction of evidence for buildings over 10 stories tall....Fire Engineering has good reason to believe that the "official investigation" blessed by FEMA and run by the American Society of Civil Engineers is a half-baked farce that may already have been commandeered by political forces whose primary interests, to put it mildly, lie far afield of full disclosure. Except for the marginal benefit obtained from a three-day, visual walk-through of evidence sites conducted by ASCE investigation committee members-described by one close source as a "tourist trip"-no one's checking the evidence for anything.
Bill Manning's article was followed up with a public call for investigation in a January 4th 2002 FIRE ENGINEERING article entitled BURNING QUESTIONS...NEED ANSWERS: BILL MANNING CALLS FOR COMPREHENSIVE INVESTIGATION OF THE WTC COLLAPSE which reiterated the statements of the initial article and formalized a public call for investigation.
This public call for investigation from a prestigious public service publication was given by a competent fire engineering professional fully aware of the proper standards for the investigation of any fire or explosion incident. The allegation that evidence from the scene of a crime of mass murder was being destroyed would constitute obstruction of justice and related crimes which would rise to the level of felony offenses if deliberate violations of standard investigative procedure could be substantiated. The open call was based upon violations of NFPA 921, the national standard for fire investigation. This standard is composed by the National Fire Protection Association, a group of fire protection professionals dedicated to public dissemination of standards for conducting fire investigation and ensuring public safety.
Under common law, the violation of national standards leading to destruction of evidence and consequent obstruction of justice is a cognizable crime.
Friday, July 13, 2007 The 'Deep Mystery' of Missing Steel
Each load of material generated from Ground Zero was given a four-part disposal ticket for tracking purposes ...
A total of 508 barges of material were loaded by the Department at the 59th Street and Hamilton Avenue MTS's, and another 1,423 barges were loaded by the city's contractor, Weeks Marine, at Pier 6 and Pier 25 ...
At the peak of the operation, approximately 10,000 tons of material were delivered daily to the site.
In closing, approximately 200,000 tons of steel were recycled directly from Ground Zero to various metal recyclers. The Fresh Kills Landfill received approximately 1.4 million tons of WTC debris of which 200,000 tons of steel were recycled by a recycling vendor (Hugo Neu Schnitzer). The remaining material, approximately 1.2 million tons of WTC debris, was landfilled on the western side of Section 1/9 at the Fresh Kills Landfill in a 40-acre site.
The project had come up to speed quickly, processing from 1,750 tons per day of debris in mid-September to 17,500 tons per day by mid-October. Average throughput over the duration of the project was 4,900 tons of debris processed per day.
September 29, 2001
A NATION CHALLENGED: THE SITE; Engineers Seek to Test Steel Before It Is Melted for Reuse
By JAMES GLANZ AND KENNETH CHANG
The huge steel columns and beams of the World Trade Center are being hauled off to be melted and recycled before engineers can inspect the twisted metal, which they say could hold important clues on how to build safer skyscrapers in the future.
The city has signed a contract that allows two New Jersey firms to recycle the estimated 310,000 tons of steel from the trade center site, including some 90,000 tons from each tower.
Kenneth Holden, commissioner of the department of design and construction, said the deal would help to recoup at least a tiny part of the original value of the towers and to dispose of the wreckage in an environmentally responsible way. He could not provide an estimate for the value of the steel. Ultimately the money would probably go to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owned the buildings.
But some engineers, including a team assembled by the American Society of Civil Engineers, say that examination of the steel could allow them to piece together the precise chain of events that led to the collapse of the buildings.
If we don't collect the unbelievably valuable data, it will be a second tragedy, said Dr. Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl, professor of structural engineering at the University of California at Berkeley and a member of the engineering society's team. Dr. Astaneh-Asl is also the recipient of one of eight grants awarded yesterday by the National Science Foundation to investigate the disaster.
Commissioner Holden said that while agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the office of the city medical examiner did inspect the steel for crime scene clues and human remains, no engineering examinations were taking place.
Mr. Holden said that while he would probably not object to allowing engineers to perform such examinations, his first priority was clearing the site so that human remains might be recovered.
Our focus right now is moving steel out to see if we can find bodies alive or dead, Mr. Holden said.
Some of the steel is already being cut up for recycling at the two firms that were awarded contracts: Hugo Neu Schnitzer East in Jersey City and Metal Management of Newark.
We thought they were going to be held for at least a while until we could get to them, said Dr. W. Gene Corley, senior vice president of Construction Technologies Laboratories in Skokie, Ill., and the leader of a 12-member team from the civil engineering society that would like to study the wreckage. If they're recycling all of it, that would make it more difficult.
Dr. Corley said it was most important to set aside the parts of buildings that were near the spots where the airplanes slammed into them.
How the girders bent could tell the engineers which part of the buildings failed first. Microscopic analysis of the steel could tell them how hot the fires burned. Taken together, such information could yield insights on how to construct buildings that are more resistant to attack.
These failures occurred very quickly, and some of the evidence for this is contained in those columns and beams, said Dr. Richard J. Fragaszy, program director in civil and mechanical systems at the National Science Foundation.
The two recycling firms said that they would be willing to accommodate the inspections if they could be done quickly, but that they were not aware of the project.
If they want representative samples, I think that's fine, said Bob Kelman, senior vice president and general manager of Hugo Neu Schnitzer. We'd be happy to assist.
The trade center steel has attracted interest in other quarters. Yesterday Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik confirmed a report in The New York Post that investigators were looking into accusations that organized crime figures, in the confusion after the attack, had carted away as much as 250 tons of scrap metal to yards in New Jersey and on Long Island. Mr. Kerik said the metal had been recovered. In any case, such small amounts of steel are unlikely to have a significant impact on the recycling operation or on any engineering inspections, should they eventually take place.
James A. Rossberg, director of the civil engineering society's Structural Engineering Institute, said he had tried to contact the city this week about the possibility of doing the inspections.
But Mr. Holden said he had not received that request. In the aftermath of the attack, phone lines running to the city's command center near ground zero were often not working properly and city officials had to deal with more immediate crises. Mr. Rossberg said he faxed the request again yesterday. We're trying not to be intrusive, certainly, he said, adding that there were a number of issues that are taking much greater priority.
Still, some engineers said that the analysis effort should not hamper recovery work and that if it were not undertaken soon, important information would be destroyed.
Late yesterday, Mr. Holden said that the request from the society had finally reached him. I just got handed a letter literally 60 seconds ago, Mr. Holden said at 5:40 p.m. He said he would consider the request over the weekend.
Copyright 2001 and 2007 The New York Times Company
..."This is almost the dream team of engineers in the country working on this, and our hands are tied," said one team member who asked not to be identified...." NY TIMES December 25, 2001 THE TOWERS
Much of the steel was recycled in America, but an additional seventy thousand tons of WTC steel was sold to Metals Management - a New York company with a president named Alan Ratner. Ratner then turned around and shipped the WTC's steel to China and India for recycling. http://www.iconservative.com/world_trade_center_scrap_sails.htm
China Radio International's English Edition also reported:
- "New York's Metals Management is among the firms taking steel from the huge project to clear Ground Zero. The company says it has bought 70,000 tons of scrap from the ruined twin towers. Some of the scrap has been shipped across the Pacific to Asian, including China and India. Among the consignments of scrap are the "very dense" steel girders from Ground Zero, which could finally yield 250,000 to 400,000 tons of scrap for recycling.**"* ( http://english.cri.com.cn/english/2002/Jan/45327.htm)
The large steel support members extracted from Ground Zero were handled differently than other debris, mostly because of their size and quantity (this type of initial separation increases jobsite efficiency and is not unusual on demolition projects). Once the steel was extracted and/or cut away from other debris, it was piled in staging areas just outside the work zone. These piles were then loaded onto trucks that transported them a few blocks north to a secondary staging area on the Hudson River. Cranes transferred the steel from the trucks onto barges, which were shipped to Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island. At this point it transferred into the control of Yannuzzi Demolition, whose team was responsible for off-loading the barges and storing the steel in an area separate from general debris arriving on other barges. It was then examined and cataloged by a series of forensic investigators, city officials and site managers. Some time later (the timing varied due to logistical factors), the steel was shipped off site to China. Our research team can personally verify the Lower Manhattan chain of possession, as we witnessed and documented this chain. We then reviewed activities that occurred at Fresh Kills by speaking with John Yannuzzi, President of Yannuzzi Demolition. Our team also reviewed commentary made by Dennis Dannenfelser, Yannuzzi’s Fresh Kills Site Supervisor, who oversaw the entire operation from start to finish and spoke candidly and extensively at the National Demolition Association’s annual Convention in March 2003. According to all parties, the steel went through the same series of steps as it would have on any other demolition project, albeit on a larger scale and with an increased presence of examiners. No one we spoke with perceived an attempt to “rush” or hide the process, and to the opposite, dozens if not hundreds of unrelated individuals – working for various entities and possessing various types of expertise – came in close contact with the steel over a period of months before it was eventually shipped overseas. STUDY 8-06 w clarif as of 9-8-06 .pdf implosionworld.com_p8 [Article-WTC_STUDY_8-06_w_clarif_as_of_9-8-06_unlocked.pdf unlocked]
It's really hard to describe the site of the disaster and I need to be careful of the information that is released.It's an odd situation to be stuck between providing information for those who must be curious about what is going on and not violating the security imposed by the many agencies involved.We have been discouraged about talking to the press. engr.psu.edu
WTC evidence off to China (source)
"In other disasters, FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies have played a more central role in making decisions about cleanup and investigations. But from the start, they found that New York had a degree of engineering and construction expertise unlike any they had encountered.
They wanted to do a lot of things on their own, said Charles Hess, who is in charge of civil emergency management for the Army Corps. Which they're very capable of doing.
But during a recovery effort that received worldwide praise, the city made one decision that has been endlessly second-guessed. To deal with nearly 300,000 tons of crumpled steel, the city quickly decided to ship it to scrap recyclers."
Either someone knows for certain who ordered the steel scrapping, or someone finds time to find out if FEMA or the Port Authority ordered it, or the statement on the street brochure better leaves out who ordered it (something like: "Destruction of evidence: 400 truckloads of steel per day were removed and recycled" instead of "FEMA ordered ..... 400 truckloads ...", and maybe we leave out the exact "400" too ["several hundred" cannot be wrong]
"There were no photographers allowed at the WTC site.” Meyerowitz recalls. Concerned that the scenes would be exploited and calling the rubble a crime scene, NYPD officers were under strict orders to deny entry to all photographers - press or otherwise. http://web.archive.org/web/20100919065529/http://www.imaginginfo.com/publication/article.jsp?id=1960&pubId=3