- Add this to Americas' Mayors' list of dubious accomplishments.
Apart from his completely useless 13 million dollar bunker set up in the
US building complex most expected to be attacked by terrorists, WTC 7 housed
CIA, FBI and other Federal offices. I guess if you want to destroy some
incriminating evidence there's nothing like 6,000 gallons of fuel oil to
do the trick. For the real story on the "Giuliani Legacy" see
- City Had Been Warned of Fuel Tank at 7 World
- By James Glanz and Eric Lipton
- Fire Department officials warned the city and the Port
Authority of New York and New Jersey in 1998 and 1999 that a giant diesel
fuel tank for the mayor's $13 million command bunker in 7 World Trade Center,
a 47-story high-rise that burned and collapsed on Sept. 11, posed a hazard
and was not consistent with city fire codes.
- The 6,000-gallon tank was positioned about 15 feet above
the ground floor and near several lobby elevators and was meant to fuel
generators that would supply electricity to the 23rd-floor bunker in the
event of a power failure. Although the city made some design changes to
address the concerns - moving a fuel pipe that would have run from the
tank up an elevator shaft, for example - it left the tank in place.
- But the Fire Department repeatedly warned that a tank
in that position could spread fumes throughout the building if it leaked,
or, if it caught fire, could produce what one Fire Department memorandum
called "disaster." Putting a tank underground typically protects
it from falling debris, and impedes leaks or tank fires from spreading
throughout the building.
- Engineering experts have spent three months trying to
determine why 7 World Trade Center, part of the downtown complex that included
the 110-story towers, collapsed about seven hours after being damaged and
set on fire by debris from the damaged landmark buildings.
- Some of the experts, who said that no major skyscraper
had ever collapsed simply because of fire damage, have recently been examining
whether the diesel tanks - there were others beneath ground level - played
an important role in the building's stunning demise.
- The Port Authority, which owns the land on which the
building stood and issued the building permit for the tank and its fireproof
enclosure, said yesterday that it believed the structure had in fact met
the terms of the city's fire code. Though the tank was on a tall fireproof
pedestal, it was still effectively on the lowest floor of the building,
as the code requires, said Frank Lombardi, the Port Authority's chief engineer.
- The authority also worked with Fire Department officials
to eliminate the department's original objections, Mr. Lombardi said.
- "We made sure that it was in agreement with the
code," Mr. Lombardi said, adding that the tank was placed in an eight-inch-
thick masonry enclosure.
- A spokesman for the Fire Department said yesterday that
he could not authoritatively say whether all the concerns of its officials
had been addressed by the Port Authority. But when reached yesterday, the
department official who wrote several of the warning memorandums said he
regarded the Port Authority's interpretation of the code to be "a
- The official, Battalion Chief William P. Blaich, said
he still considered the tank's placement to have been unsafe. The Port
Authority has long held that, as a matter of law, it does not have to abide
by city fire codes. But after the1993 bombing of the towers, the Port Authority
signed a memorandum of understanding with the city pledging to not only
meet the city's fire codes, but also to often take additional precautions.
- A spokesman for the city's office of emergency management,
Francis E. McCarton, said the city accepted the Port Authority's determination
that the tank and its placement were properly safe. He said it was essential
that the mayor's command center have a backup energy source and placing
it on ground floor was unacceptable because the area was deemed to be susceptible
- "We put it in the area where we needed to put it,"
Mr. McCarton said. Any suggestion that the tank's position was a factor
in the collapse of the building was "pure speculation," he said.
- He added that the tank had fire extinguishers and was
surrounded by the thick, fire-resistant containment system, and that the
fiery collapse of the towers could never have been anticipated in the city's
- No one is believed to have died in the collapse of 7
World Trade Center. But its collapse did further complicate the rescue
and recovery efforts under way at the scene.
- The engineering and fire experts who have been examining
the collapse of 7 World Trade Center have not settled on the final cause
of the disaster. But they have seen evidence of very high temperatures
typical of fuel fires in the debris from the building and have raised questions
about whether the diesel accounted for those conditions.
- At least two firefighters who were at the scene, Deputy
Chief James Jackson and Battalion Chief Blaich, said that the southwest
corner of the building near the fuel tank was severely damaged, possibly
by falling debris, and that the tank might have been breached.
- Mr. Jackson said that about an hour before the building's
collapse, heavy black smoke, consistent with a fuel fire of some sort,
was coming from that part of the building.
- The Port Authority said it was unlikely the heavy masonry
surrounding the tank could have been breached, and its officials have raised
the possibility that the two diesel tanks buried just below the ground
floor of the building might have contributed to the fire. They have also
asserted that structural damage from falling debris is a more likely culprit
in the collapse.
- Several fire experts said that, whatever the questions
surrounding the city's code, installing giant fuel tanks above the occupied
spaces of a building posed serious risks.