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Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, Dr. Bement. And thank all of you. And the Chair is going to be somewhat arbitrary in the initial round of questioning, restricting, including the Chair, to five minutes, and then we will have a second round and as many rounds as are necessary.
Mr. Shea, in your statement, you said rightly so that FEMA's singular goal in the immediate aftermath of the attack was to support local jurisdictions in the rescue of trapped firefighters and workers. Nothing had a higher priority. Page 122 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. SHEA. Right.
Chairman BOEHLERT. And I can certainly understand that. But can you explain why the BPAT team was not able to enter the site until October, even though volunteers were at the site almost immediately and the ASCE team was in place within days? Why October?
Mr. SHEA. Perhaps, the best way to do this—Dr. Corley, maybe you can help explain why we were there in October.
Dr. CORLEY. Yes. I can add some information to that. The team, as it was officially put together, indeed, did not get to the site until October. However, as early as the Saturday after the attack, we had at least three people who, at that time, were on our team, on-site, in connection with the search and rescue, and they were beginning to collect information at that time.
Chairman BOEHLERT. But mostly observing. I mean, the most important thing going on right then was the search and rescue effort, but there was no organized effort to gather evidence, if you will. And I know there is some dispute between you and Dr. Corbett in your statements where you say the investigation or the review has not been compromised because of so-called lost evidence, and Dr. Corbett feels it was. In fact, it seems to me an inordinate amount of time before the BPAT team was in there really doing something. A couple of people there is not what I would consider the type of response necessary.
Dr. CORLEY. Yes. Well, those people were, indeed, collecting very vital information to us. But the reason that we were unable to get in until that time was that the combination of the search and rescue and the criminal investigation were the things that we understand, at least, were preventing us from getting access. Page 123 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Chairman BOEHLERT. Well, they were more of observers. They didn't have badges. They weren't there in any official capacity that anyone could identify. But—well, that is something we are going to——
Mr. CORBETT. Yes.
Chairman BOEHLERT [continuing]. Talk more about. And, incidentally, these questions today—we are not going to get to all the questions obviously, and we are determined to be as thorough as possible. So—and this is not coming out of my time because I am making this observation from the chair. But we are going to follow up with very specific questions and we want specificity in your responses in a very timely manner. We are all very serious about this. And our objective is not to point fingers at anyone. Our objective is to get to the bottom of it and to make certain we do what is necessary to prevent something like this from ever happening again.
Dr. Bement, you know, why did NIST play initially, at least it appears to us, sort of a passive and minor role in getting on with the investigation? Is it because there is no clear definition of who has responsibility for what?
Dr. BEMENT. Well, I take your question as support for the fact that we should do this investigation, except we should have done it sooner, perhaps.
Chairman BOEHLERT. I agree. And I agree.
Page 124 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Dr. BEMENT. The role of NIST is somewhat circumscribed by statute. We——
Chairman BOEHLERT. And where things are circumscribed, we are going to make it crystal clear——
Dr. BEMENT. Thank you.
Chairman BOEHLERT [continuing]. So there is no doubt in the future.
Dr. BEMENT. We have anxiety about that. As a matter of fact, we have been a very strong advocate for this establishment of a National Construction Studies Board that would operate very similar to a National Transportation Studies Board that would overcome some of the deficiencies in being able to carry on the timely investigation that you are talking about. And we, at NIST, would be very happy to work with the Committee in developing that policy.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Staff has just pointed out to me that very specifically in the law, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, on its own initiative, but only after consultation with local authorities, initiates and conducts investigations to determine the causes of the structural failures and etcetera, etcetera.
Dr. BEMENT. That is correct. But we will work with you. As a matter of fact, acting on that authority, I requested the reprogramming action that is coming up to the Hill now to provide the funding to continue the work that we are currently doing. Also, during the months of November and December, we did have numerous meetings with authorities in New York to do just what this authority requires—consultation with the local authorities. And the letters that I submitted for the record are in response to those meetings and those understandings. Page 125 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
We felt it was very important early to get full concurrence and full cooperation because of the vital information that is held by the Port Authority, by the designers of the building, and other sources of vital information. So we have been marshaling that support.
Chairman BOEHLERT. You know, one of the things that really bothers me is we don't have a system in place where there is immediacy to get a team onsite, not to interfere in any way, shape, or manner with search and rescue, because that is the most important——
Dr. BEMENT. Right.
Chairman BOEHLERT [continuing]. Activity of all—but a team onsite to immediately begin to have a video and oral history of what happened and when it happened. And I noticed in some of the testimony—and I have spent hours reading all the testimony, because I want you to know this—I am not the only one—we are all very serious about this mission.
Dr. BEMENT. Right.
Chairman BOEHLERT. But I noticed the networks have been asked to cooperate, and they have been, but slowly. And as we are assembling this whole record of what happened in the film—but wouldn't it seem to make sense that we have somebody, whether it is in the NIST shop or FEMA shop, or somebody, a team of people immediately onsite at a disaster, particularly one of this magnitude—— Page 126 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Dr. BEMENT. Yes.
Chairman BOEHLERT [continuing]. To start recording?
Dr. BEMENT. I fully agree.
Chairman BOEHLERT. And so that we don't have Dr. Corley and Dr. Corbett at odds some time in the future as we are conducting this review. Dr. Corley says he doesn't feel the investigation was compromised because we have enough steel. A lot of people say a lot of that steel is gone. We don't have the evidence we need to investigate to know what happened and when. But if we had that immediate team of people——
Dr. BEMENT. Right.
Chairman BOEHLERT [continuing]. With a video and oral history of it being recorded, that would——
Dr. BEMENT. A video record would have been—or a photographic record of some of these pieces would have been terribly important.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Yeah. Listen, I could occupy this whole morning and this whole afternoon, and this whole week with questions, but my time has expired. We will have another round. Mr. Weiner, you are next.
Page 127 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. WEINER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I have a question for the Panel. Will the person who is in charge of the investigation raise their hand? [ ] Well, that was two hands and one flinch. Who is——
Dr. BEMENT. Oh. No. I——
Mr. WEINER. Oh. That is a third hand.
Dr. BEMENT. I have authority for the investigation.
Mr. WEINER. Okay. And, Dr. Astaneh, why do you raise your hand if he is in charge? Yes, sir.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Dr. Astaneh, do you want to respond?
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. I thought you asked, raise your hand if you are—you were investigating?
Mr. WEINER. No. I want to know who is in charge. Where does the buck stop on this panel on this investigation? Oh, no one. Yes, sir. Okay.
Dr. BEMENT. No. It depends when you ask your question or when you reference your question. NIST operates under the Federal Response Plan where we provide technical support to the emergency agencies that have responsibility for the emergency. This would be FEMA, primarily, and the Corps of Engineers—— Page 128 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. WEINER. Dr. Bement, if you will forgive me, I have a very brief amount of time. Are you in charge of the investigation in to why the World Trade Center collapsed?
Dr. BEMENT. I now have authority to conduct this investigation. Yes.
Mr. WEINER. Okay. Is that as of—as of when?
Dr. BEMENT. Well, as of the concurrence of FEMA and the approval of the Secretary of Commerce.
Mr. WEINER. Okay. So if you are in charge, are you in power to sequester evidence?
Dr. BEMENT. Not under subpoena. But——
Mr. WEINER. Are you—all right. That was going to be my next question. Are you in power to issue a subpoena requiring that someone turn over a building plan?
Dr. BEMENT. Not at this time.
Mr. WEINER. Are you in power to require someone to provide information if they might have it? Page 129 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Dr. BEMENT. Not under any mandatory conditions, but we can request and——
Mr. WEINER. Do you have the ability to visit Ground Zero this morning, point to a piece of steel and say, I need you to save that?
Dr. BEMENT. I can do that. Yes.
Mr. WEINER. You have the power and the law to do that?
Dr. BEMENT. I think I can do that now. Yes.
Mr. WEINER. I am sorry.
Dr. BEMENT. I think I can do that now.
Mr. WEINER. Do you need to check with a member of your staff? I mean, what do you mean, you think—can you or—it is not a—this is an easy part, I thought.
Dr. BEMENT. Well, as I said, I don't have subpoena authority and I have to work through FEMA. And I don't have control of the site. So I have limited——
Page 130 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. WEINER. Has anyone——
Dr. BEMENT [continuing]. Authorities——
Mr. WEINER. Dr. Bement, has anyone——
Dr. BEMENT. And, incidentally——
Mr. WEINER. Yes.
Dr. BEMENT [continuing]. Just to take a second, again, we have to operate under the concurrence of local authority.
Mr. WEINER. Well, I recall being in—on Beach 130th Street in Rockaway watching the National Transportation Safety Board point to pieces of evidence, say to the local law enforcement, don't touch this or it is going to be a felony if you do. Do you have that authority?
Dr. BEMENT. That is exactly the authority I am asking for in——
Mr. WEINER. Okay.
Dr. BEMENT [continuing]. Establishing the National Construction Safety Board that would have the same authorities as the National Transportation Safety Board. Page 131 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. WEINER. Well, as you heard in my opening statement, I concur.
Dr. BEMENT. Right.
what caused steel to fallEdit
Mr. WEINER. Can I ask members of the Panel—and I am not sure—perhaps, Dr. Corbett—if you were to look at a piece of steel that was affected in a catastrophic way, do we have the scientific ability to draw conclusions about what caused that piece of steel to fail? Dr. Corbett, I think I would address it to you, sir.
Mr. CORBETT. Okay. Yes. I think we do. As a matter of fact, I know we do. And that is——
Mr. WEINER. And might that piece of information be helpful in building future buildings?
Mr. CORBETT. Certainly.
Mr. WEINER. Would members—would you, Dr. Corbett, in looking at a bunch of steel that, to me, just might look like twisted steel, be able to say that given where this was in the building or what kind of a joint it was, this is more important than that?
Mr. CORBETT. Yes. Page 132 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. WEINER. Is anyone on—has anyone on the panel been offered the opportunity to go take a look at the steel that came from that site to say, I want to study this one? This one is less important. Has anyone on the Panel, by a show of hands, had the ability to do that? Dr. Corley—the steel that is being recycled now by the City of New York, which is about 80 percent, according to what I have been told—has that steel all been looked at by a member of a panel or a committee that is studying the causes of this disaster?
Dr. CORLEY. Not all of it has been looked at.
Mr. WEINER. Are you concerned that what Dr. Corbett has just said to me, that you can look at a piece of steel, draw conclusions about it, and help prevent future accidents, that we have now lost, irrevocably, the opportunity to draw those conclusions?
Dr. CORLEY. With that steel that has been recycled, we have lost any opportunity to do that, however, we have identified a large number of pieces of steel that will provide us with that type of information.
Mr. WEINER. And if I could ask one further question, because now the yellow light is on, to Dr. Bement. You said that we have the capability to determine the impact of heat on structural failure in buildings.
Dr. BEMENT. That is correct.
Mr. WEINER. If we had done that type of analysis before September 11, could we have drawn some conclusions about how long a building would withstand—a building like the World Trade Center, would withstand the amount of heat and energy that was let loose in that building? Page 133 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Dr. BEMENT. In——
Mr. WEINER. Could we have said——
Dr. BEMENT. In principle, yes.
Mr. WEINER. Okay. So we could have said, and had written down somewhere, that someone could have checked or referred to, you know what, this building has, based on this amount of energy being released, about four minutes.
Dr. BEMENT. That is correct.
Mr. WEINER. Okay. Do you believe that if we had that information before September 11, some of the people that are sitting behind you would not have lost loved ones?
Dr. BEMENT. Perhaps. Yes.
Mr. WEINER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you. The gentleman's time has expired. Dr. Bement, when did the transition occur? When was the torch passed? Initially—I mean, we agree that in the final analysis, NIST should have the responsibility and you should have the resources to do what we expect you to do, but we were not aware that the torch had been passed from FEMA, which has first responsibility. When did this occur? Page 134 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Dr. BEMENT. We have been in continuing consultation with FEMA over the past—well, since the event, as a matter of fact. And we have had discussions on how best NIST could serve in carrying out this investigation. And we have asked for concurrence, not only from local authorities, but also from FEMA. And you will note from their letter they have supported our investigation. So we feel we have their complete support and authority to carry out the investigation.
Chairman BOEHLERT. But you are now officially in charge—does FEMA agree with that—officially in charge of the review and the preparation of the report?
Dr. BEMENT. Well, I would say that we are operating as if we are in charge, and I assume that we are in charge.
Chairman BOEHLERT. But does FEMA agree?
Mr. SHEA. Mr. Chairman, I think the situation, to state it factually, is that we have a responsibility with FEMA to continue on through the production of this Building Performance Assessment Team report, which is scheduled for April. The results of that report, and, of course, the National Institute of Standards and Technology is a member of the team, will then be transmitted to NIST for their further examination. But they are currently partnering with us on that effort.
Chairman BOEHLERT. But would you—I mean, I think it is fair to say that for several months it has been uncertain who was clearly in charge. Page 135 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. SHEA. I think that is an accurate statement.
Chairman BOEHLERT. And I think it is also fair to acknowledge that this is unprecedented.
Mr. SHEA. Uh-huh.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Well, Mr. Shays.
Mr. SHAYS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And before you hit the dial, I would love to just, on behalf of Connecticut and New Jersey residents, just say that we, in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut all felt the impact of this. And the district I represent is 25 to 50 miles away. We have guests in our audience who lost loved ones. Some grandparents were lost—parents, children, husbands, and wives. And we could see the smoke from our district and turn on our TV and see our loved one and neighbors enclosed, encased in a building they couldn't get out of, that imploded before their very eyes. And I just, on behalf of them, thank you for having these hearings.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you, Mr. Shays. And now——
Mr. SHAYS. I——
Chairman BOEHLERT [continuing]. The clock will start running.
Page 136 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. SHAYS. Thank you. I am kind of taken back by what has been said today and also by the excellent questions of Mr. Weiner. He is probably speaking a little loudly and a little quickly because he has five minutes, but his points are, I say—I think, tell it all. I am taken back, Mr. Shea, by your comment that no one thought these buildings would fall. And the fact that no one thought they would, but they did, would seem to me to be the very reason why we would have an investigation.
I am taken back by the fact that Dr. Bement said it is the worst building destruction in human history. So——
Dr. BEMENT. That is correct.
Mr. SHAYS [continuing]. You know, it is like nothing else needs to be said other than to wonder why this didn't happen sooner. And we all can look at ourselves, Members of Congress, we were probably too focused on how do we deal with this war on terrorism to deal with the mundane things that needed to be dealt with right away.
I am interested to know why these buildings imploded rather than toppled? I am interested to know if they had toppled, would there have been a domino effect and would one building have triggered the fall of another and triggered the fall of another. And, to me, these seem like very valid questions that have to be answered. And I am interested—you focused—Dr. Astaneh, you focused on the structure of the steel and didn't mention the fire, and, Dr. Bement, you basically focused on the fire. Just with the structure of the steel without the fire, would this building ever collapsed?
Page 137 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. No. In my opinion, the reason for collapse of building was because of the softening and weakening of the steel after the impact was done and the fire was going on.
Mr. SHAYS. But you showed the building when you took the plane away, but showed the damage, and you showed that basically some of the steel was just shot.
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. Yes. But these structures—certainly these structures, the World Trade Center, were designed in a very redundant way, which means if you take many members out, still the remaining members can redistribute the load and carry the remaining the load. So even if you take a few columns—in this case, maybe 30 percent, 40 percent of columns were lost on one face of the building, the remaining columns were able to carry the load. If we did not have the fire, the buildings would have stood up as they did for one hour.
Mr. SHAYS. When we—when I was elected in '87, when Stewart McKinney passed away, at that very moment in time, we had the collapse of a lift-slab structure in Bridgeport, and it imploded. You know, one floor came down and then the others came down. Why didn't this building topple? And if it had toppled, would it have potentially knocked down other buildings?
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. The collapse that you mentioned, as well as collapse of World Trade Center, the eventual cause of most collapses is the gravity. Buildings are standing up because we have supports under the floors and floors are supported on the columns. As soon as you remove the support, the gravity does the final damage and pulls the building down. In this case, because the fire damaged the columns and floors and softened them, the gravity is the cause that collapsed. That is why it imploded and came down. Page 138 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
To answer your question about whether or not it could be toppled, my own feeling initially was, and it still is, that they may have tried, these terrorists, to actually topple the buildings, which would have been a disastrous event, toppling those structures on the World Trade—on the Wall Street area.
But the structures were designed for a very high level of storm, very high level of force, and 707——
Mr. SHAYS. Thank you.
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL [continuing]. Airplane.
Mr. SHAYS. Dr. Corley, do you agree with that?
Dr. CORLEY. Yes. Dr. Astaneh is correct in what he said, that it is the gravity that is the primary cause.
Mr. SHAYS. Is there ever a concern about a domino effect?
Dr. CORLEY. In most buildings, no. In low buildings, in very high seismic regions, you may have enough lateral load resistance in the building that they can topple. And I have seen a few buildings do that in very high seismic zones. These buildings generally will start to topple over, but then gravity will take over and come down. Building #2 did, in fact, lean a fair amount before it came down. Page 139 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. SHAYS. Just very quickly, my last question. Mr. Shea, I noticed you getting a little uneasy when Mr. Weiner was asking questions as to whether Dr. Bement had the authority or not. And I was uneasy watching you——
Mr. SHEA. Okay.
Mr. SHAYS [continuing]. Frankly, because it does strike me that six months after the fact there shouldn't even have been any doubt. I mean, obviously, we have to deal with some statutory responsibilities and authority, but it sounds to me like you had the ability to give him power and he says he took it and accepts it. But why wasn't it clear?
Mr. SHEA. Well, let me, if I can, try and characterize that for you. From the—from day one, from the date of the disaster, when the President declared the disaster, FEMA had, and we undertook, our responsibilities to conduct a building performance assessment. But I think the question was different. The question was, who had the authority to investigate. We do not have authority to investigate. We do not have analogous authority to the NTSB or the FBI or other law-enforcement types of agencies.
What we did, and we continue to this day, to have the authority to carry forward with the Building Performance Assessment Team. And it is when that report is completed in April that we intend to, in effect, pass the baton on.
During the entire period of time, however, the American Society of Civil Engineers to the National Institute of Standards and Technology—they have all been partners in that effort. So if I was acting uncomfortable, it was because I was concerned about the way the questions were being phrased versus the answers. Page 140 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. SHAYS. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you. And, Mr. Shea, you have given a compelling argument for the need for an immediate development of a protocol so that we know clearly who is in charge.
Mr. SHEA. Yeah.
Chairman BOEHLERT. That is absolutely essential. And the immediate question I have—it appears that FEMA didn't talk to city officials about preserving or documenting the steel that was being removed from the site. Or at least, the city says FEMA never talked about it, which leads us to the Corley versus Corbett debate on what evidence was lost and how important it is to the overall investigation.
Does FEMA play an active role in facilitating the investigation? It seems to me you do. So——
Mr. SHEA. Well, clearly, in terms of facilitating any assessment of the activity, the answer is, yes, we do play a very pivotal role. Onsite, we have a Federal coordinating officer and a disaster field office operation. They do interface on a daily basis with most state and local government as part of the—any effort that goes on at the disaster site.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Didn't someone initially feel that all—with all this debris being hauled away—and we understand the necessity of doing that—but didn't someone think in terms of the investigation that would be conducted and the need for that material to be evidentiary? Page 141 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. SHEA. I think the answer is, yes, Chairman Boehlert. The day after the event, we began those discussions with the American Society of Civil Engineers and our prime contractor, Greenhorn and O'Mara to field a Building Performance Assessment Team on the ground. So the answer is, yes. I mean, we were considering it immediately in the aftermath.
Chairman BOEHLERT. We have been—and I have read all this testimony and talked to a lot of people, and, more importantly, listened to a lot of people.
Mr. SHEA. Yes.
Chairman BOEHLERT. And the three impediments—and Dr. Astaneh pointed them out—the access to the site, the access to the material, and the blueprints. And it was like four months after before anybody got the blueprints. This is a learning exercise——
Mr. SHEA. Absolutely.
Chairman BOEHLERT [continuing]. And we are all learning from what happened.
Mr. SHEA. Yeah.
Chairman BOEHLERT. And it is unprecedented, I understand. And we don't mean to assume an adversarial role. We are all in this together. We are not here, you know, sparring with you. We are just trying to get to the facts to know what we need to know so that we will know what we need to recommend so that something like this, one, will be prevented, but, two, if it happens, we will have the response capability that we need. Page 142 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Just before I go to Mr. Weiner, just let me ask you—oh, who is that? Oh, Mr. Israel, you are next. I am sorry. Yeah. Weiner is sort of my buddy here. But do you feel, Mr. Shea, and do you feel, Dr. Bement, that you have the resources you need, to this juncture, to do what is expected of you? I know there are going to be requests for additional funds——
Mr. SHEA. Uh-huh.
Chairman BOEHLERT [continuing]. But I want to make certain that nothing is being impeded—no progress is being delayed because you don't have whatever you need. Do you feel that FEMA has the resources it needs to do what you are expected to do right now?
Mr. SHEA. The answer is, yes. But I think it also needs to go back to some of the other issues that you have raised, Mr. Chairman. The issues that we are now looking back on that I think this Committee is trying to address this afternoon, do need to be addressed as part of an overall strategy that the Federal Government will undertake. It is my opinion, based on my experience, that that is properly then vested in the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the kinds of authorities that Dr. Bement has outlined to you this afternoon.
In terms of conducting our business, what we were undertaking with the Building Performance Assessment Team, yes, we have sufficient resources to do that.
Chairman BOEHLERT. And how about you, Dr. Bement? Page 143 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Dr. BEMENT. Well, there are three phases to this overall study, which, by itself, is going to take almost 24 months. There is a preliminary stage, in which we have been active. At the present time, we have the resources necessary to set the stage and get the necessary concurrences and to also obtain the materials that are available for metallurgical examination and forensic study. This is a study in itself, and Dr. Corley's estimate of what the resources require for that study are very close to the mark.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Where do the resources come for Dr. Corley's study? Does it come from FEMA?
Mr. SHEA. They were a combination of resources that the American Society of Civil Engineers put into the process——
Chairman BOEHLERT. Right.
Mr. SHEA [continuing]. Along with funding from FEMA.
Chairman BOEHLERT. All right. So you haven't had to put any resources into the BPAT yet. You have participated——
Dr. BEMENT. No. I am talking about resources that would have to support the consortium that NIST is organizing at the present time to carry on the full-scale study that we have been talking about. Those recommendations have gone up to the highest level of the Administration and I am very optimistic that it will be resolved very quickly. Page 144 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
The third phase, which will go in parallel with the investigation itself, is to take the lessons learned and provide the technical basis for changes in codes and standards, not only for existing buildings, but for new construction, to provide better security for occupants, to provide better egress, to provide better structural integrity under these types of impacts. In addition——
Chairman BOEHLERT. But there are going to be requests, obviously, but you—but the bottom line is, you feel you have what you need in terms of resources. I mean, transferability——
Dr. BEMENT. I don't think we have slowed down. We have got a team going. We have been coordinating with FEMA and other agencies. I think we are ready to go and I think the original——
Chairman BOEHLERT. And there will be no hesitancy—no hesitancy—to request additional resources.
Dr. BEMENT. No hesitancy. That is correct.
Chairman BOEHLERT. All right. That is good.
Dr. BEMENT. And, furthermore, I would say that we will build on the current BPAT study, which will be issued in April.
Page 145 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Chairman BOEHLERT. April.
Dr. BEMENT. And we have some of the results already, so we can—you know, as I say, we can——
Chairman BOEHLERT. But you are not waiting for that study to——
Dr. BEMENT. We are not waiting for that study.
Chairman BOEHLERT. All right. Fine. Mr. Israel.
qs from mr. israelEdit
Mr. ISRAEL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to follow up on some of these questions regarding the resources that have been made available for these studies. To the Chairman's question, Mr. Shea, who used to be in charge of the investigation, said, we have enough. Dr. Bement, who I understand is now in charge of the investigation, says, we may have enough, depending on these phases. Dr. Corley says we need $40 million, and until we have $40 million, it is not enough. Can somebody explain to me exactly what it is going to take to do the kind of study we need to do to make sure that this doesn't occur in the future? Let us start with Dr. Bement.
Dr. BEMENT. Well, I think Dr. Corley was estimating what the cost of a study of this type would require. And, as I say, he is pretty close to the mark. We have developed——
Page 146 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. ISRAEL. 40 million?
Dr. BEMENT. I won't put a number on it just yet.
Mr. ISRAEL. But the mark, I believe, is 40 million. What is close to the mark?
Dr. BEMENT. That was his estimate.
Mr. ISRAEL. Okay.
Dr. BEMENT. I am just saying it is not too far out of the ball park.
Mr. ISRAEL. Okay.
Dr. BEMENT. We will—we are working on a funding plan and that will come forward very quickly. As far as the investigation, it is a question of what you mean by the investigation. If you are talking about the technical investigation, which NIST is proposing doing, I am operating on the assumption that I have adequate authority to begin that technical investigation.
If you are talking about broader issues, with regard to responsibility and other ancillary items surrounding the World Trade Center collapse, which we are not going to be involved in, that is not in our camp at the present time. Page 147 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. ISRAEL. Dr. Bement, you had stated that, at this hearing, that NIST has received policy approval for this study. What does policy approval mean?
Dr. BEMENT. It means that under 15 U.S. Code, Paragraph 281(a), which the Chairman referred to, it gives us the authority to, on our own initiative, but only after consultation with local authorities, we may initiate and conduct investigations to determine the causes of structural failures that——
Mr. ISRAEL. Dr. Bement, I am sorry. I also have limited time. I am getting kind of a bureaucratic response. What does policy approval mean and how much is it going to cost to do what you have to do?
Dr. BEMENT. That is our policy approval right there. That gives me the authority——
Mr. ISRAEL. To do——
Dr. BEMENT [continuing]. With consultation and with adequate resources, to carry out the investigation.
Mr. ISRAEL. Okay. Adequate resources. Dr. Corley, what does $40 million get us that we are not getting right now?
Dr. CORLEY. The work that would be done with the $40 million would be to follow up on the many recommendations that will be coming out in our report where further study and, in some cases, research programs are needed to get answers to the questions. It would cover the issues of protection of the emergency response teams, as well as structural and fire issues. Page 148 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. ISRAEL. So you believe that the expenditure of $40 million would cover virtually everything we need to know about what went wrong and prevent other things from going wrong in the future.
Dr. CORLEY. Well, with any research you never know what you are going to find, so there may be things that would require more than that. But this is what I would judge is needed at this point.
Mr. ISRAEL. That is your benchmark. And Dr. Bement has said that you are close to the mark. And my final question to Mr. Shea—can you tell us approximately how much FEMA has expended up to this point——
Mr. SHEA. Our——
Mr. ISRAEL [continuing]. On the investigations?
Mr. SHEA. Yeah. Our investment today is about $600,000.
Mr. ISRAEL. $600,000.
Mr. SHEA. Right.
Mr. ISRAEL. And we need to get to 40 million.
Page 149 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. SHEA. Right.
Mr. ISRAEL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you very much. The Chair will now yield to Dr. Ehlers, who is going to assume the Chair momentarily, for his questioning.
Mr. EHLERS [presiding]. I never realized one could become chairman of this Committee that quickly. It is a pleasure to have you all here. And I want to pursue the line of questioning that you just heard. You—as I understand, when you say policy approval, Dr. Bement, that means you also have the authority to spend the money needed to do it. Is that correct?
Dr. BEMENT. I have no statutory authority to spend that kind of money at the present time.
Mr. EHLERS. Okay. Then the next question is, where is the money going to come from? And that—let me also say, Mr. Shea, I am going to hit you on this too. We are talking $40 million. That is not just—that is not just the study. That is also following up, as you said, Dr. Corley. And I presume by that, that means follow-up studies on determining the nature of progressive collapse, which was responsible not only for the towers collapsing, but I understand also for a good deal of the damage done in the Oklahoma City disaster as well.
Now, does your estimate of $40 million, Dr. Corley, include further studies on progressive collapse, further studies on fire damage to steel structures, and so forth, or is that not part of your recommendation? Page 150 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Dr. CORLEY. Yes. That would include all of the subjects that I have mentioned, plus those that have been brought up in the other testimony.
Mr. EHLERS. Well, I personally think that is money well spent and the Nation, as a whole, would save a lot of money if that is done. The question is, where is the money going to come from. I know, Dr. Bement, because I have jurisdiction over NIST in my Subcommittee, you don't have the money to do it.
Dr. BEMENT. That is correct.
Mr. EHLERS. Now, Mr. Shea, you have a substantial amount of money, which was given as part of the money that the Congress approved last year, to deal with it. How much of your money are you dedicating to this effort, both the initial work and also the ongoing study? In other words, do you have enough money to fund the $40 million that we are talking about here?
Mr. SHEA. No. The direct answer is, we do not. The funding that was provided to us is really for the relief of victims and for rebuilding the community and to pay for police, fire, that kind of thing. The Stafford Act would not encompass these types of long-term studies. And if we were to undertake them like anybody else in the Federal Government, we would have to go through a process with the Administration to request them.
Mr. EHLERS. So you have no funding for research.
Page 151 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. SHEA. Well, realistically, we have some small pockets of funding that relate to flood-related issues, seismic-related issues, dam safety issues, but those are all very specifically authorized kinds of things that we do. The amount of funding there is relatively small comparatively speaking.
Mr. EHLERS. And where did you get the money for this initial study that has been done?
Mr. SHEA. The initial assessment comes out of the disaster relief fund because it is, again, scope-limited. It is important to understand, the whole effort is designed to provide a basis for rebuilding with mitigation incorporated as part of that overall mitigation process, rebuilding process, so that it is part of the overall relief and recovery effort.
Mr. EHLERS. But you have asked NIST to take over the formal investigation, but you are not sending the money along with that request. Is that what you are saying?
Mr. SHEA. Well, we think it is an excellent idea to have an investigation, a longer-term investigation of these issues based on our experience in these areas. But, no, we would not send funding to go with it.
Mr. EHLERS. However, if the Congress made—passed the provision that part of that $6 billion you received could be used for that, would you send the money along with it then? Page 152 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. SHEA. If Congress and the Administration agreed on a principle like that, then, sure. I mean, absolutely. Yes, sir.
Mr. EHLERS. Okay. That is certainly one solution. I—Dr. Bement, as I said earlier, I know you don't have the money, and that is not quite accurate. You do have it, but it would do incredible damage to NIST if all of that money came out of your budget. And so, clearly, the money has to come from somewhere.
Dr. BEMENT. Right.
Mr. EHLERS. Is the Administration considering at all including this as part of its supplemental request to the Congress, which I understand is coming out in a week or two?
Dr. BEMENT. I believe that is a consideration. Yes. I can't say that that is the avenue they will finally decide on, but I know that they are considering that.
Mr. EHLERS. And, Mr. Shea, pinning down a little more, when you say you have no authority, are you talking about no statutory authority or no budget authority to send money at this point and demands as well?
Mr. SHEA. The—we do not have statutory authority to conduct these types of investigations. And obviously then, we wouldn't have the intended resource base associated with that. Page 153 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. EHLERS. And NIST has a statutory authority, but you are saying not the budget authority at this point.
Dr. BEMENT. The mechanism that is in the statute is deficient in terms of providing the funding and providing the mechanisms to get an appropriate response, technical response, on the site immediately. And——
Mr. EHLERS. So I have——
Dr. BEMENT [continuing]. We have covered that ground.
Mr. EHLERS. I have a couple of worries here. First of all, there is a lot of this going on in terms of funding, and we and the Administration have to come to some agreement on where the money is going to come from. My other concern is involving the academic community, which you see represented here and which has a very good background. The National Science Foundation actually was the first on the ground with investigators and has done this regularly in cases like this.
I am very concerned that we, as an Administration and a Congress, provide sufficient funds for NIST to do what it does so extremely well. But I think it is also important that we provide funding for the university community——
Dr. BEMENT. I agree.
Page 154 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. EHLERS [continuing]. To participate. Now, that either would come through NSF. Or I understand, Dr. Bement, you also can give grants to——
Dr. BEMENT. Well, we will bring universities into our study and——
Mr. EHLERS. You will include that——
Dr. BEMENT [continuing]. We will fund that work. Yes.
Mr. EHLERS. And that would be part of your funding as well.
Dr. BEMENT. That is correct.
Mr. EHLERS. All right. I think we have clarified that problem, but it is clear that we have to do more work on it, otherwise we will have grand plans for grand studies and not only in finding out what happened here, but also how to prevent it in the future, both in terms of fire and progressive collapse damage. And if we are not careful—and by we, I include the Congress and the Administration—it just won't—it won't be done. So I hope that all of us in Congress will keep everyone's feet to the fire and make sure we get this job done. I——
Dr. BEMENT. Thank you.
Mr. EHLERS [continuing]. Yield back my time. Next, we call on Mr. Etheridge from North Carolina. Page 155 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. ETHERIDGE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And let me thank you and the Chairman of our Committee for having this hearing that is so important, not only to the people in New York, but the people in this country, and I think ultimately around the world, because this is—we have seen a lot of things happen. And I think it is not only important just to the families of the victims of the 9/11 tragedy, but it is important to all of us to learn as much as we can at this date about the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings.
Aside from withstanding enormous wind loads, the World Trade Center towers were also constructed to withstand sediment loads. Because the towers, as you know, I don't need to remind any of you, were built on a landfill. And it went down and they had to go down and do bedrock and all the stuff that took place. As I remember, it was about 70 feet below ground level, I think, that it wound up going down.
Although the towers were, in fact, designed to withstand being struck by an airplane, no one ever envisioned what ultimately happened on September the 11th. They weren't able to survive the effects of a direct hit with all the gasoline. And I know you have been talking about that already with the collapse of floors and the pancaking, etcetera. And I, like others, have been there and was horrified at what I saw.
In trying to comprehend how this happened, that the loads just collapsed, is there any reason to have concern on how other tall buildings are constructed in this country and the safety of the people that are occupying them? Who would like to take that on?
Mr. SHEA. Congressman, I am not an engineer, and I am probably the only person at this table that isn't an engineer, but I would say the answer to your question is, yes, there should be some concern. And I think the notion of a longer-term investigation should help answer some of those questions about whether and what we can do about that. But, again, I don't think we have the answers this afternoon. Page 156 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. ETHERIDGE. Anyone else?
Mr. CORBETT. Yeah. I think that the critical point here is that there are other high-rise buildings in this country and we need to understand exactly what happened at the World Trade Center and learn from it and apply it to other buildings. I mean, this is a fire—you know, planes hit the building, but it was a fire that brought it down——
Mr. ETHERIDGE. Absolutely
Mr. CORBETT [continuing]. And we need to understand that.
Dr. ASTANEH-ASL. One of the important things is that until now, structures are designed by structural engineers. Then they are passed to fire engineers to design the fireproofing, but there is no interaction. I think it is very important that for the future we come up with joint work of the fireproofing engineers as well as structural engineers. And I think the NIST plan is very good in that sense, that it will bring in fire engineers and structural engineers.
But to answer your question directly, I think, yes, we have a lot of concerns about all other tall buildings.
Mr. ETHERIDGE. Thank you. One additional question if I may, because that brings on the second question—with all the different agencies we now have looking at it, and as we go forward, because I remember in your earlier testimony, as you were talking, almost each one of you were talking about data that may have been lost because of a number of issues not having been protected, etcetera, because we have so many involved. What are we doing now to protect that data? And what are we doing to lay out a plan so that we—God forbid we should ever have something like this again—at least we have got a plan in place so that, number one, we protect the integrity of the information, but, number two, we have got a plan working to make sure that we don't have the kind of problems we have had with this one? Page 157 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. SHEA. Congressman, I will attempt to begin the answer to that question. The—I guess I would point out a couple of things. One is, FEMA is working with the team from the American Society of Civil Engineers to preserve whatever data is available. And that is, in fact, also being shared with the National Institute of Standards and Technology. As was testified earlier, they are receiving some of this steel that was called as part of that effort.
Further, FEMA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology have begun discussions of a preliminary mechanism by which we could do better in the future, in a Memorandum of Understanding about a quick response mechanism. But I think there is a more fundamental question here about how do we effectively coordinate all the science-based agencies in responding to events of this kind? I am not sure we have the answers to that this afternoon, but I think it is a fair issue for the Committee to address.
Dr. BEMENT. Representative Etheridge, I would answer this way—that that clearly is part of our investigation. We don't have to wait until the end of the investigation to have findings and recommendations with regard to those aspects. And we would certainly consult with this Committee very quickly once we have such a plan in hand.
Mr. ETHERIDGE. Thank you. And I—if I may, Mr. Chairman, I would encourage you to move along, to work through your associations and others, because as other buildings are being built, it seems to me to be most appropriate to work through every avenue we have to not only shore up the ones we now have, but those that are being built, for safety and for fire safety as well. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back. Page 158 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Chairman BOEHLERT [presiding]. Thank you very much. Mr. Grucci.
Mr. GRUCCI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for convening this hearing today. The information has been pretty helpful so far. I have just been listening to the debate going back and forth about the dollar values for the study. Is it enough? Isn't it enough? Who has it? Who doesn't have it? And I hope that we can work that out very quickly.
But, Mr. Shea—and this is not an attack against you. It was just something that I heard in your statement early on, when you indicated that it will take years to complete these studies. And I would encourage all that is in—that is going to be part of this is that, we can't wait years. There are people out there who need answers now. Not only those that are sitting in this room, but the thousands of others whose lives have been torn apart as a result of this tragedy.
In addition to those folks, I know that this Congress won't wait years. I know this Congressperson won't wait years. We want answers. We need answers. And we would hope and encourage you all to move quickly in this. Let us weed through who doesn't have and who does have the authority and let us all get on the same team to get to the end results. Because, as Mr. Etheridge said, there are buildings going up that can use the benefit of the knowledge that will come out of these—out of these hearings and come out of the study that you will do.
If you need money, I can't promise that you will get it all, but I can promise you that we are going to be here to work with you to get this thing resolved. Because, as the Chairman said, this is not an attack against you. We are all here to work together. Page 159 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
My question goes pretty much to trying to at least assemble in my mind what happened from what I am hearing today. In gleaning through the information that you all provided in your testimony and I, too, have had the opportunity to read it, one thing came clear to me that it wasn't the elongated fire from the fuel of the jet planes that created the extreme heat that, indeed, may have had or may not have had direct results on the tinsel strength of the steel causing the building to collapse.
Because, as I understood it, from my reading, the jet fuel probably burnt off between 10 to 15 minutes after the impact of the jet into the building. What caused the intense heat and the massive fires was that jet fuel, as a first fire, causing the rest of the floors where that jet fuel came into contact with to catch fire and desks and chairs and rugs and whatever else may have been in the building, then started to burn as the fuel. And I understand that there was a fair number of floors that were involved with that.
The question that I have is that if, indeed, it was not the jet fuel that was the main culprit, and that it did, indeed, burn itself off in a reasonable time—fast enough where it didn't affect the strength of the steel—and that the secondary fires caused the problem, why wouldn't the fire suppression system that should have been, or was in the building—I shouldn't say should have been—it was in the building—why didn't they function on the floors that may not have come into direct contact with the jet craft that may have taken out the pipes and the suppression systems? And I think—well, whoever wants to try to answer that, please do.
Dr. CORLEY. Okay. I will take the first stab at that. That it is our belief that the water source for the sprinkler system was compromised and there was no water that was supplied to the system after the planes hit—nothing above the floors that were hit. Page 160 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. GRUCCI. But the floors beneath where it hit would still have had water.
Dr. CORLEY. They would have had water, but there was really no fire—well, there was only a small amount of fire there. And some of those fires were controlled even with hand-held fire-fighting equipment.
Mr. GRUCCI. And so the fires that were the secondary fires, if you will, as a result of the jet fuel, were on the floors above where the plane impacted.
Dr. CORLEY. Yes. That is correct. At the floor and above.
Mr. GRUCCI. I would—why wouldn't it have—I was always under the impression, listening to the stories and reading in the papers, what you can glean from that, is that the jet fuel migrated its way down through the building, through the corridors, through the elevator shafts, through whatever orifice was in the building to allow the fuel to migrate down. How did it go up?
Dr. CORLEY. Well, to answer the first part of that question, yes, there was some fuel that went down, but those fires, based on the photos we have, did not spread widely. They—some of them were put out by people on those floors. The fire above—first of all, the plane took out parts of the floors and opened up the building, knocked out a lot of the windows, so that the fire could go up the—from floor to floor that way and there probably was damage to the floors that also allowed it to progress up through the building. Page 161 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. GRUCCI. And so the suppression systems then did work for the floors beneath it.
Dr. CORLEY. There was probably—well, yes. There was not a great deal of fire beneath the areas where the planes went in, as far as we can tell.
Mr. CORBETT. Just to add a couple of comments. As far as the——
Mr. GRUCCI. Yeah. If you would
Mr. CORBETT [continuing]. Suppression systems go, it is very likely that when the plane went through the building—we certainly know it took out the stairwells—and that is where the supply pipes for the sprinkler systems are located. So it just sheared right through them. So that would have allowed basically a flood of water to come out.
As far as lower incidents within the building, we do know that—actually, I have a student in one of my classes that is a security guard in Tower 1, and was there when the jet fuel came down the elevator shaft and blew off the doors and started a fire down there. I know from another person that I know that is an architect, and went through the lobby and saw the sprinkler system actually going off in the lobby and was wondering why, and I think that is probably the answer to that.
Page 162 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Chairman BOEHLERT. The gentleman's time has expired. The Chair would—the intention of the Chair is as follows. We have 12 minutes to go in terms of the current vote, and there is only one vote, so we will have to recess briefly. The Chair will recognize Mr. Israel for one minute to make an announcement and then Mr. Larson for his questions, and then we will temporarily recess to go over to answer the vote, and then we will be right back.
Mr. ISRAEL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And, Mr. Chairman, let me again thank you for your bipartisan leadership in bringing us to a focused and sensible approach to this issue. One recurring theme is what we are going to invest as a Nation in the type of evaluation that is going to improve the safety of both the public and emergency responders in the event of another building collapse.
Dr. Corley estimates a total of $40 million. Dr. Bement says that he is near the mark. NIST has asked for $2 million, or allocated $2 million. FEMA has already expended about half a million dollars. We want to support your efforts. We want to make sure that you have everything you need so that we can evaluate and make sure that this doesn't happen again.
In that vein, I am pleased to announce that under the Chairman's leadership, Congressman Weiner and I have cosigned a letter to Budget Director Mitch Daniels, asking him to provide you with all the funding that you require for the type of comprehensive evaluation that is going to make sense. Again, Chairman Boehlert has signed this letter. Congressman Weiner has signed the letter. And I would invite all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to cosign this with us. This is, once again, going to be an issue of budget priorities, and I can think of no more important budget priority than to spend what is needed to evaluate and make sure—— Page 163 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Chairman BOEHLERT. And I would encourage all of our colleagues to sign that letter.
Mr. ISRAEL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Thank you very much. The Chair recognizes Mr. Larson.
Mr. LARSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And let me add to the chorus of those thanking you for conducting this hearing. And let me also second the proposal of my colleague and join in the signing of this, and commend the Skyscraper Safety Campaign for their efforts here. And point out, as my colleague from Connecticut has, the number of people from Connecticut in the audience today, and specifically Monica Gabriel, who lost her husband, Richard, at the World Trade Center.
The questions that have been raised by my colleagues, I think, draw down to a specific point. I believe it was Thomas Friedman who indicated that since the—when we look at the tragedy of September the 11th, and we look at what happened, in many respects it was a failure of imagination. And a failure of imagination that evolves around a sense that sprung up an American government of stove-piping. Stove-piping amongst agencies is so much so that even, as Mr. Weiner and others have asked their questions today, the American public has to look at a specter of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing.
Now, obviously, there is plenty of blame, I guess, that could be going—that can go around. And our object here is not to lay blame, but to get to answers and solutions. But at the heart of my concern is one that has been raised, I think, by a number of people. And that is that since September 11, perhaps, we know more than we have, but we are no better prepared to address the concerns of the future. And we are no better prepared because of these turf battles and the stove-piping that persists. Page 164 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
So my question is, in general—and the President, and I believe wisely so, has appointed Tom Ridge, the Head of Homeland Security. And as we look to specific appropriations, and as we look, and has been cited here frequently, for specific statutory authority, do we need one central clearinghouse? The dominant theme amongst every group that I have spoken to since September the 11th, is the need for commonality of communication, interoperability, and the ability for onsite control.
In your estimation—and I know this is—you are at the beginning process—is that what this Nation needs to move forward and how do we? And how are you going to be successful in all the information that you are gathering if you can't overcome those hurdles? And I will start with you, Dr. Bement.
Dr. BEMENT. I think there does have to be a central authority that can go in and carry out an investigation and can sequester all the evidence that is necessary to carry out that investigation immediately after the collapse occurs or whatever the event is.
Mr. LARSON. Do you think that Mr. Ridge should be that authority? Do you think that we should have someone and—that can bring all the Federal agencies and state agencies and local municipalities to focus and bear on this issue?
Dr. BEMENT. Well, I wouldn't want to say that that would be the only way it could be done, but certainly it ought to be considered.
Mr. LARSON. Dr. Corbett. Page 165 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Mr. CORBETT. It is certainly an answer to that question. I—we need it. We don't have it right now. We don't have a coordinated response to disaster investigations in my opinion.
Mr. LARSON. What would be the best place for that to reside? Would it be——
Mr. CORBETT. Well, I suggested FEMA because they have a responsibility for disaster response and mitigation, and mitigation is what we are talking about here—mitigating the future, mitigating issues that perhaps we are going to find in other high-rise buildings.
Mr. LARSON. Mr. Shea.
Mr. SHEA. My reaction is that the best way to approach this is to vest that authority and responsibility in a single Federal agency. In this case, my testimony is that would be the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Mr. LARSON. So then—and would someone from the National Institute of Standards and Technology want to respond?
Dr. BEMENT. I think that——
Mr. LARSON. And this is what the American public sees. It is—— Page 166 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Dr. BEMENT. No. Let me give you a direct response to your question. I think where it comes to structural collapse and anything that brings together fire and structural collapse, and NIST would certainly be an appropriate agency to have that responsibility directly, as long as all the mechanisms are in place. And if we can set up the necessary board structure so that all the parties that might be involved, including local and state authorities, can be on the scene immediately, and that there are necessary subpoena powers in order to gather information and——
Mr. LARSON. We have a very serious problem here. And it seems to me, every time we discuss this—and there is increasing frustration in Congress at all levels—that when we talk to the bureaucracy responsible for this, we get the Abbott and Costello line of who is on first?
Chairman BOEHLERT. The gentleman——
Mr. LARSON. And it just goes on and on and on.
Chairman BOEHLERT. The gentleman's time has expired. In all fairness, I think it is very important—and this Committee prides itself on working together—it is very important to understand and appreciate that this is something unprecedented in the history of mankind. And what we are trying—there is clear authority—if there is a hurricane, if there is a flood, if there is an airplane crash, there is clear authority for various agencies to commit. This is something where we are sort of plowing new ground. And it is very important, as the testimony indicates, that we design a protocol so that we will know instantly if something, God forbid, like this ever happens again, we have got people onsite, in charge, action initiated. Page 167 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
With that, the Chair recognizes Ms. Morella, and she has four minutes and 40 seconds before we have to go vote.
Ms. MORELLA. Thank you. Okay. I will talk really fast.
Chairman BOEHLERT. Uh-huh.
Ms. MORELLA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for this hearing. And I do want to also reflect the fact that to the families of the victims who are here, I offer my condolences and prayers. And this is one of the reasons why we had this hearing. Thank you, gentlemen, for your presentations. And I know the Chairman will allow us to submit some questions to you too, because we have more questions that we haven't gotten to.
I wanted to pick up—Dr. Bement, I know you are getting a lot of questions here, and, welcome, at the helm of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. But some of the——
Dr. BEMENT. Thank you.
Ms. MORELLA [continuing]. Important research that has been mentioned here today is going to—it seems to require a large-scale testing facility. To what extent are NIST laboratories equipped to do that kind of work, to carry on that kind of work? In other words, are you going to need some additional facilities for this and, if so, what will their capabilities be and, you know, what would they—what would it cost? Page 168 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Dr. BEMENT. Well, as you know, this is an unprecedented event.
Ms. MORELLA. Yeah.
Dr. BEMENT. It is probably the first time that—on this scale, structural dynamics and fire dynamics have come together to create an initiating event that created a catastrophe. That is an area where we do need to do research. We need to do research at an appropriate scale so that we can understand the fire response of building materials and building structures. And I can say that we do not have that kind of a facility at the present time.
Ms. MORELLA. So that is something that we are going to have to factor into what happens after the report, is to look at that.
Dr. BEMENT. Yes.
Ms. MORELLA. Because I certainly don't want to see cannibalization of the other research that is being done, you know, at NIST. And I know you don't either.
Dr. BEMENT. I appreciate that.
Ms. MORELLA. So, Mr. Chairman, you are going to have to look at the facility for this too after that. Page 169 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2
Chairman BOEHLERT. The angel of NIST has spoken. Are you going to be coming back because we have to take a brief recess now?
Ms. MORELLA. I——
Chairman BOEHLERT. Because when we come back, you are—the time will be yours, Ms. Morella.
Ms. MORELLA. Well——
Chairman BOEHLERT. But we only have two minutes and 30 seconds. And unless you can run faster than me, we are going to have difficulty getting over there.
Ms. MORELLA. All right. Fine. Thank you. I will try to. If I can't, I will submit some questions.
Chairman BOEHLERT. And I should have mentioned previously——
Ms. MORELLA. Thank you.
Chairman BOEHLERT [continuing]. That after the opening statements by all the witnesses, the statement for the Skyscraper Safety Committee will be in the record for all to see and to consider. We will take a brief recess. We will get back as quickly as can. You can have a pause, a break, in the act. Page 170 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2