By Jefferson Flanders

The delayed National Institute of Standards and Technology report on the collapse of the World Trade Center 7 following the 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001 will be released for public comment this July. A final version will be published a month later, in August 2008.

NIST’s investigation of the WTC 7 collapse was supposed to have been completed by the end of 2006, but more complex, and time-consuming, computer simulations, along with a consideration of some additional evidence (mainly architectural and construction documents and plans), has stretched out the process, according to Michael E. Newman of NIST.

The public airing of NIST’s conclusions should bring relative closure to the scientific/engineering investigation of the 9/11 World Trade Center attack. WTC 7, a 47-story office building damaged by debris from the destruction of the Twin Towers, collapsed on the afternoon of September 11, 2001.

Some 9/11 conspiracy theorists maintain that WTC 7 was “pulled down” in a controlled demolition ordered by the government, an allegation that has been advanced by celebrity “9/11 Truthers” Charlie Sheen and Rosie O’Donnell. While there has been no credible evidence produced for these claims, they have been a staple of those arguing that 9/11 was part of a sinister government conspiracy.

NIST’s working hypothesis for the collapse of WTC 7 is that fire and/or debris caused damage to a critical column and triggered a progressive and “disproportionate collapse of the entire structure”—essentially that the wounded building fell in on itself. In its report, NIST will also review hypothetical blast scenarios (there were fuel storage tanks in WTC 7 and a Con Ed substation) since, as Newman said, “we couldn’t rule it out” as a potential contributor to the collapse.

The NIST investigation of the collapse of the Twin Towers was a model of the scientific process with questions, assumptions, hypotheses, and evidence laid out for public review. Based on the WTC 7 inquiry’s careful and measured approach to date, we are likely to find that the NIST report this summer offers well-founded reasons for the building’s structural failure, and provides them in a transparent way.

Reprinted from Neither Red nor Blue

Copyright © 2008 Jefferson Flanders

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