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Context of 'November 11, 2004: Laboratory Director Questions Cause of WTC Collapses'

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The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)—an agency of the US Commerce Department’s Technology Administration—announces details of its forthcoming investigation into the collapses of the World Trade Center Twin Towers and Building 7 on 9/11. The NIST investigation aims “to investigate the building construction, the materials used, and the technical conditions that contributed to the outcome of the World Trade Center (WTC) disaster.” It also aims to examine the activities of building occupants and emergency responders on 9/11, studying such issues as emergency communications within the WTC, the movement of people during the evacuations, and issues around persons with disabilities. Leading technical experts from industry, academia, and other laboratories, alongside NIST’s own expert staff, will participate in the investigation. Expert professionals from the private sector will also be involved. Glenn Corbett, a fire science professor at John Jay College, says, “This is going to be the most extensive building disaster investigation ever performed.” [Associated Press, 8/21/2002; National Institute of Standards and Technology, 8/21/2002; National Institute of Standards and Technology, 8/3/2005] The investigation is formally authorized in October 2002, when the National Construction Safety Team Act is signed into law. The act, which gives NIST authorization to investigate major building failures in the US, is written largely as a result of the World Trade Center collapses. [National Institute of Standards and Technology, 10/2/2002; New York Times, 5/8/2003] NIST’s investigation is originally proposed to last two years, with a budget of $16 million. [National Institute of Standards and Technology, 8/21/2002] However, it eventually will last three years, with its final report into the collapses of the Twin Towers being released in October 2005 (see October 26, 2005). A previous analysis of the WTC collapses conducted by FEMA and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) was completed earlier in 2002 (see May 1, 2002), but this had a budget of just $1.1 million. By the time NIST starts its investigation, much of the crucial steel debris from the WTC collapses has already been destroyed (see September 12-October 2001). They later refer to there being a “scarcity of physical evidence that is typically available in place for reconstruction of a disaster.” [National Institute of Standards and Technology, 9/2005, pp. xxxvi]

Entity Tags: World Trade Center, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Glenn Corbett

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

An engineering report is released concluding that the destruction of one of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers would have rendered the other unusable. Swiss Re and other insurance companies involved in the WTC coverage commissioned the study, which was written by California-based Exponent Failure Analysis Associates. It is released the same day as a report on the collapses by WTC leaseholder Silverstein Properties Inc. (see October 23, 2002). Contradicting the Silverstein report, it concludes: “[T]he collapse of one tower in the World Trade Center complex would have severely compromised the future viability of the entire complex.” This supports the insurance companies’ contention that the WTC attacks constituted one loss event, not two, as claimed by Silverstein Properties, thereby entitling Silverstein to a policy limit of $3.5 billion instead of $7 billion. The report, along with the underlying data, computer models, and engineering analyses, have been passed on to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which is conducting an investigation into the collapses (see August 21, 2002). [Business Insurance, 10/23/2002; Insurance Journal, 10/23/2002; Engineering News-Record, 11/4/2002] In late 2004, a jury will rule that the WTC attacks were two events, and Silverstein Properties will be tentatively awarded $2.2 billion in insurance for the destruction of the Twin Towers. [BBC, 12/7/2004; Insurance Journal, 12/7/2004]

Entity Tags: Silverstein Properties, Exponent Failure Analysis Associates, Swiss Reinsurance, World Trade Center

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Kevin Ryan.Kevin Ryan. [Source: Public domain]Kevin Ryan, the laboratory director at Environmental Health Laboratories Inc., which is a subsidiary of Underwriters Laboratories Inc., writes an e-mail to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)—the agency currently investigating the WTC collapses—in which he challenges the official theory regarding the WTC collapses. According to Ryan, Underwriters Laboratories Inc. was the company that certified the steel components used in the construction of the World Trade Center, and it had been agreed that the samples it certified met all requirements. His e-mail states, “This story just does not add up. If steel from [the Twin Towers] did soften or melt, I’m sure we can all agree that this was certainly not due to jet fuel fires of any kind, let alone the briefly burning fires in those towers.” His e-mail is published on the Internet, and generates interest on many websites. Days later, Kevin Ryan is fired because, according to a company spokesman, he “expressed his own opinions as though they were institutional opinions and beliefs” of Underwriters Laboratories. According to Underwriters Laboratories, “there is no evidence” that any firm tested the materials used to build the towers. They also say that Ryan was not involved in any way with their fire protection division, which had conducted testing at NIST’s request. [South Bend Tribune, 11/22/2004]

Entity Tags: National Institute of Standards and Technology, Underwriters Laboratories Inc., Kevin Ryan, World Trade Center

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

One of the ‘puffs of smoke’ observed during the Twin Towers collapses.One of the ‘puffs of smoke’ observed during the Twin Towers collapses. [Source: Richard Lethin]The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) issues a seven-page fact sheet to counter alternative theories about the WTC collapses. NIST conducted a three-year study of the collapses, and concluded they were caused by the damage when the planes hit combined with the effects of the ensuing fires. However, many people—what the New York Times calls an “angry minority”—believe there was US government complicity in 9/11, and a recent poll (see July 6-24, 2006) found 16 percent of Americans believe the WTC towers were brought down with explosives. [National Institute of Standards and Technology, 8/31/2006; New York Times, 9/2/2006; Reuters, 9/2/2006] The fact sheet responds to 14 “Frequently Asked Questions.” Some of its key points include the following:
bullet Regarding whether NIST considered a controlled demolition hypothesis: “NIST found no corroborating evidence for alternative hypotheses suggesting that the WTC towers were brought down… using explosives… Instead, photographs and videos from several angles clearly show 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.” However, it admits, “NIST did not test for the residue” of explosives in the remaining steel from the towers.
bullet Its explanation for puffs of smoke seen coming from each tower as it collapsed: “[T]he falling mass of the building compressed the air ahead of it—much like the action of a piston—forcing smoke and debris out the windows as the stories below failed sequentially.”
bullet Its explanation for a stream of yellow molten metal that poured down the side of the South Tower shortly before it collapsed (see (9:50 a.m.) September 11, 2001). NIST previously claimed it was aluminum, but this should not have been yellow in color: “Pure liquid aluminum would be expected to appear silvery. However, the molten metal was very likely mixed with large amounts of hot, partially burned, solid organic materials (e.g., furniture, carpets, partitions and computers) which can display an orange glow.”
bullet Regarding reports of molten steel in the wreckage at Ground Zero (see September 12, 2001-February 2002): “Any molten steel in the wreckage was more likely due to the high temperature resulting from long exposure to combustion within the pile than to short exposure to fires or explosions while the buildings were standing.”
bullet Regarding the collapse of WTC 7 (see (5:20 p.m.) September 11, 2001): “While NIST has found no evidence of a blast or controlled demolition event, NIST would like to determine the magnitude of hypothetical blast scenarios that could have led to the structural failure of one or more critical elements.” [National Institute of Standards and Technology, 8/30/2006] In response to the fact sheet, Kevin Ryan, the coeditor of the online Journal of 9/11 Studies, says, “The list of answers NIST has provided is generating more questions, and more skepticism, than ever before.” He says, “NIST is a group of government scientists whose leaders are Bush appointees, and therefore their report is not likely to veer from the political story.” [New York Times, 9/2/2006; Reuters, 9/2/2006]

Entity Tags: National Institute of Standards and Technology, Kevin Ryan

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

In a reply to criticisms of its World Trade Center investigation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) admits that it is unable to fully explain the total collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11. NIST’s letter is a response to a “request for correction” letter sent to it five months earlier by Bob McIlvaine and Bill Doyle, who both lost family members on 9/11, along with scientists Kevin Ryan and Steven E. Jones, architect Richard Gage, and the group Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice. This letter made several assertions about NIST’s final reports of its WTC investigation, and suggested they had violated the Data Quality Act and NIST’s information quality standards. NIST’s reply denies the requests for corrections. However, it also mentions, “[W]e are unable to provide a full explanation of the total collapse” of the World Trade Center. [National Institute of Standards and Technology, 9/27/2007 pdf file] In its final report on the Twin Towers collapses, released in October 2005, NIST admitted that its investigation did “not actually include the structural behavior of the tower after the conditions for collapse initiation were reached and collapse became inevitable” (see October 26, 2005). [National Institute of Standards and Technology, 9/2005, pp. 82]

Entity Tags: National Institute of Standards and Technology, World Trade Center

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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