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Skyscraper Safety Campaign Responds to WTC Memorial & Mu

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 6:35 am    Post subject: Skyscraper Safety Campaign Responds to WTC Memorial & Mu
From Mon Jun 26, 2006 3:00 am to Thu Jun 29, 2006 2:59 am (included)
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Press Release: June 26, 2006

Contact: Professor Glenn Corbett, Chief Technical Advisor, SSC – 201-993-2814

Sally Regenhard, Chairperson, SSC – 646-266-1987

(The following comment has been submitted to the LMDC re the WTC Memorial)

Skyscraper Safety Responds to WTC Memorial & Museum Revisions

Although the a significant number of changes have been made to the proposed World Trade Center (WTC) Memorial, the Skyscraper Safety Campaign (SSC) is gravely concerned that the revised WTC memorial and museum complex still presents a clear and present danger to the many visitors who will visit the site. While the memorial itself has been appropriately and commendably moved aboveground, the continued push for an underground museum is still a dangerous proposition.

The SSC finds it incredibly bewildering that safety was not even a criteria for which the various WTC memorial and museum options were evaluated. Security and safety are two different things and must be evaluated individually. In addition, conflicts between security and safety must be addressed. The proposed waterfall/pool and corresponding viewing area still does not address the security concerns that the SSC had expressed months ago: a group of terrorists can still bypass the security measures in the "Visitor Orientation and Education Center (VOEC)" by simply dropping down a dangerous object or chemical, or by rappelling into the pool itself and entering the underground exhibit areas.

Regarding safety, an underground WTC museum placed deep underground, will require visitors to quickly traverse excessively long horizontal egress paths before making the arduous task of ascending as much as 70 feet to grade level, even with ramps. Many people will find this dangerous assignment impossible. Requiring individuals to expeditiously move up the equivalent of a seven story building is challenging for most physically fit people, let alone for young children, the elderly or those who are just out of shape.

In light of recent concerns by public interest groups about proposed deep underground subway stations, placing a potential iconic terrorist target in the form of a WTC museum so far below ground could be inviting disaster. This proposed underground museum is just that - proposed. Correcting this problem can still be accomplished, since the museum is still "on paper."

The Skyscraper Safety Campaign, while strongly urging the creation of an appropriate 9/11 museum, advocates placing the entire museum in the proposed aboveground VOEC. This cost-effective location is consistent with other similar memorials such as those at Pearl Harbor.

The Skyscraper Safety Campaign also supports preservation of the tower "footprints." While these are obviously at the base of "Ground Zero," we feel that people should still have access to them. The SSC, however, advocates reducing the safety and security risk through aggressive security screening and greatly restricting the number of visitors who will view them up close at any given time. Safety enhancements in the form of "hardened" large capacity elevators (capable of evacuating all underground visitors simultaneously) should be provided to swiftly move the limited number of visitors out of harm’s way. Additionally, code-compliant stairs as well as robust areas of refuge should be provided. Consideration should be given to "remote" viewing sites at grade level which could be provided in order for larger numbers to see the footprints and slurry wall.

Finally, the SSC is deeply concerned with the continuing status of the Port Authority of NY & NJ (who will be constructing the Memorial & Museum) which remains exempt and therefore immune from the legal jurisdiction of all NYC building and fire codes. Regardless of the rhetoric of the LMDC and Port Authority, the fact remains that the PA is essentially above the law, and can remain aloof from the oversight processes that every other building in this city must submit to. The SSC once again calls for the PA to renounce its exemptions and immunities from NYC codes & voluntarily place itself under the legal jurisdiction of NYC in this rebuilding of the WTC site. The question the public and elected officials must ask is:” Why on earth would they not want to?”
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