Debris Mountain Starts to Shrink
By Nadine Post and Debra K. Rubin
Engineering News-Record (New York)
October 1, 2001, pages 10-11

This article provides important information for WTC demolition researchers, in particular because of the information about Controlled Demolition Inc., which (a) was apparently keen to have the debris removed and disposed of as soon as possible and (b) was able to come up with a detailed plan for doing so within eleven days of the collapse of the Twin Towers, suggesting that Controlled Demolition Inc. had detailed knowledge of the Twin Towers and the entire WTC complex prior to September 11th. The role of the U.S. Army in efforts to speed up the removal of the debris is also worth noting.

As hope of finding survivors dims more than two weeks after the Sept. 11 attack on New York's World Trade Center, officials and contractors are concentrating new efforts on debris removal. But many don't expect a quick pickup in the cleanup pace. There is concern about the proximity of underground debris to the Twin Towers' foundation and continuing sensitivity to recovering human remains and critical evidence. Even so, participants are developing a site-wide debris management plan that includes removal of an estimated 300,000 tons of structural steel.

The core of what may become the cleanup master plan for the wrecked site in lower Manhattan was delivered to the city's Dept. of Design and Construction Sept. 22 by implosion consultant Controlled Demolition Inc., Phoenix, Md. The 25-page "preliminary" document offers a host of debris-related concerns and removal ideas related to the site's key collapsed buildings and outlines other project management issues, from site security and safety to contrctor relations and offsite debris disposal.

CDI was initially retained by Tully Construction Co. Inc., one of the site's four main cleanup management contractors, to assess debris removal in its sector that includes the former Two WTC and several smaller buildings. The site's other contractors have also agreed to CDI's involvement, with the goal of creating a site-wide master plan, says one contractor executive. "This will await the official end of search and rescue," he adds. At ENR presstime on Sept. 25, neither Mayor Rudolph Giuliani nor city officials had made that pronouncement.

CDI contends that the progress of debris removal "must be subservient" to retaining the structural integrity of the slurry wall foundation. [This prevents flooding from the Hudson River.] "The highest priority and the great challenge in this emergency is to support the slurry wall," says Mark Loizeaux, president.

The 1,000 x 500-ft foundation walls are intact, reports George J. Tamaro, lead engineer on the Mueser Rutledge team. Water inside seems to be related to rainfall and other sources, but is not river water, he says. Tamaro adds that there is "absolutely" a need for a slurry wall tieback system, but not necessarily all around the "bathtub," which covers 7.5 acres.

Because the structures in the eastern half of the site are largely intact, CDI recommends them as the debris removal starting point. Above grade, the firm's report recommends conventional wrecking methods to remove 4 WTC down to the slab. Conventional demolition of 5 WTC is not possible currently because it would get in the way of debris removal operations for the collapsed 7 WTC, which itself is a stand-alone operation. The report says some torch work will be necessary to isolate or downsize major structural steel debris. CDI recommends liquid oxygen-propane torches to avoid the "weld-back" of steel, which slows down operations.

Freestanding sections of the towers can "probably" be pulled over using cables and heavy equipment, says CDI. After the fall area is cleared, an excavator would progressively rock the freestanding element to build "accelerating harmonic response" until failure is achieved.

To accelerate progress, CDI also recommends attention to restoring transit service in the area and development of "a detailed sequence" for utility installation. The report also urges improvements in how project officials interact and communicate.

STACKING UP    While site concrete was largely pulverized into fine dust, huge quantities of damaged structural steel lay in tangled heaps throughout the former 16-acre WTC site. "I saw I-beams stacked six stories high," says Allen Morse, chief debris expert for the Army Corps of Engineers, a technical advisor to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He says steeel could make up to as much as half of the site's estimated 1.2 million tons of wreckage. "You can't move machinery around unless you plan for it," adds Morse.

To accelerate steel removal, Weeks Marine Inc. has created two steel offloading areas that ramped up operations last week to transport debris by barge for recycling. The sites are located at Pier 25 on the Hudson River and at Pier 6 at the tip of lower Manhattan. The city's usual garbage removal facilities, which is handling smaller site debris, could not accommodate steel pieces.

Weeks was still dredging the Pier 25 site even as trucks began delivering steel to the site for offloading by crane to barges that can hold up to 3,000 tons. "That's equivalent to 150 truckloads," says Weeks Senior Vice President George Wittich. Business was slow at first as truck-drivers maneuvered through the site and city streets and had to pass muster with FBI officials checking for evidence. One site source says security was beefed up after some drivers sold steel privately to scrap dealers.

Wittich says the city has awarded contracts to two private scrap dealers to handle 50,000 tons of steel. The rest is expected to be used to create offshore artificial reefs or head for "upland" disposal. While the company obtained dredging permits in seemingly record time, environmental permits for steel disposal have yet to be issued. "The rate that the stuff can be brought to the reef is less than what's coming out," says Weeks President Richard S. Weeks. Wittich says larger steel debris, as big as 30 tons, may be used for slurry wall stabilization.

Even with 45 Weeks employees on site and 24-hour-a-day operation, the Corps called in help, awarding a $790,500 contract to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. to deepen the Pier 6 site. But the CDI report contends that more disposal capability is needed. "The existing barge terminal facilities must be expanded ... if there is any hope of accommodating the tremendous volume of material that demolition contractors can move once full production is under way," says the document.

The Corps is also seeking to ramp up debris sorting operations at the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island, N.Y. On Sept. 25, it began testing a conveyor system, says Morse. He adds that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is "writing a plan" to manage hazardous waste recovered on site, including freon, fuel and biomedical waste. "When we run across it now, the stuff is being put in a holding area," he says.

But even as management plans move into high gear, project participants are not optimistic that debris will disappear fast. Morse estimates work could take eight months but CDI's Loizeaux believes it could take up to 14 months. "The debris stream will pick up, but it won't be huge," says Morse. "It will still be a deliberate process."

Why was the evidence, the metal parts of the collapsed towers, not kept to be analyzed? Why was the metal hauled away, with the aid of reputed underworld truckers, and then sold overseas to those nations pledging absolute secrecy of the contents? Certain flag officers contend their treasonous Commander-in-Chief, supervised by Daddy, ordered this to be done. — Sherman H. Skolnick: The Overthrow of the American Republic, Part 14

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