A team of national scientists will visit the site of the Surfside collapse



SURFSIDE, Florida – The Federal Watch Team that investigated the World Trade Center collapse is now beginning the process of investigating the Surfside condo collapse.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is sending a team of six scientists and engineers to the site of a partial building collapse Thursday in Champlain Towers South “to collect first-hand information,” NIST confirmed to Local 10 News Monday.

This information will be used “to determine whether an investigation or study will be conducted” by NIST.

These NIST experts plan to work with local, state and federal authorities to “identify and preserve materials” that the national group said could help understand why the building collapsed.

A spokesperson for NIST said circumstances on the ground will determine when the team plans to provide a recommendation on whether a full investigation should be conducted, but the plan is for that recommendation to be completed within “week or so. the next two “.

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“If a National Construction Safety Team (or NCST) is established,” a NIST spokesperson said, “we expect an investigation to take months, if not years. Previous investigations lasted at least two years.

NIST has conducted four investigations “using NCST law enforcement authorities,” which include:

It would be their first look at a collapse that was unrelated to an obvious cause such as a storm, fire, or terrorist attack.

“They’ve never done more than a simple building collapse,” Governor Ron DeSantis said.

If NIST chooses to conduct a full investigation or study into the Surfside building collapse, the purpose of the reports “would be to determine the technical cause of the collapse and, if so, recommend changes to building codes. , standards and practices, or other appropriate actions to improve the structural safety of buildings.

This aerial image shows a beachfront condominium building that partially collapsed three days earlier, killing people and many people still missing, in Surfside, Fla. On Sunday, June 27, 2021 (AP Photo / Gerald Herbert)

The National Construction Safety Team (NCST) Act, enacted October 1, 2002 by President George W. Bush, authorizes the National Institute of Standards and Technology to establish teams to investigate building failures.

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It is based on the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which investigates transportation accidents.

NIST is launching expert teams to assess construction and infrastructure procedures following what it calls “disaster and failure events” that result in “substantial loss of life” or may have potential significant loss of substantial life. These events can include national disasters or construction / design failures or terrorist attacks.

If NIST conducts a full investigation, it could lead to building code changes nationwide to prevent similar tragedies.

“The problem is the issues around the structural damage to the pool, that area that was mentioned and other areas of weakness. They will review this preliminary investigation and determine if they open a full investigation, ”said US Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz. “And it is triggered when they have an idea, after their preliminary examination, whether the decisions and inquiries they undertake as a result of this investigation may have longer-term implications and recommendations for how we let’s change federal oversight. , the federal law on the construction of buildings and the type of decisions implementing the code that will have to be taken on the ground.

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[ALSO SEE: Surfside tower had ‘major structural damage’ — but enough to cause a collapse?]

Public records on the Champlain South Towers – which were in the 40-year recertification process when the collapse occurred – document areas of concern ranging from chipping concrete and cracks in the columns to a serious problem waterproofing under the pool deck, which a consultant in 2018 said caused major structural damage to a concrete slab below.

“These types of maintenance issues are not abnormal, what is abnormal for me is that there were so many that they were three years old,” said Peter Dyga, president and CEO of the Associated Builders and Contractors Florida East Coast Chapter. “There were already problems in 2018. Here it is 2021 and they just haven’t been resolved. “

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To what extent did these known issues play a role in the collapse and could there be other contributing factors, ranging from a possible construction or design fault to an environmental impact? It is the difficult and tedious structural detective work that investigative teams are just beginning.

“It’s probably going to end up being a combination of things,” Dyga said. “The reason we’re all so shocked by this is because it’s not a daily occurrence. In fact, once in a lifetime, really, when it comes to a building that collapses on its own.

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