Engineer Society Accused of Cover-Ups
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Associated Press
Posted: April 3rd, 2008
After the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and the levee failures caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the federal government paid the American Society of Civil Engineers to investigate what went wrong. Critics now accuse [ASCE] of covering up engineering mistakes ... and using the investigations to protect engineers and government agencies from lawsuits. In the World Trade Center case, critics contend the engineering society wrongly concluded skyscrapers cannot withstand getting hit by airplanes. The Federal Emergency Management Agency paid the group about $257,000 to investigate the World Trade Center collapse. In 2002, the society's report on the World Trade Center praised the buildings for remaining standing long enough to allow tens thousands of people to flee. But, the report said, skyscrapers are not typically designed to withstand airplane impacts. Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl, a structural engineer and forensics expert, contends his computer simulations disprove the society's findings that skyscrapers could not be designed to withstand the impact of a jetliner. Astaneh-Asl, who received money from the National Science Foundation to investigate the collapse, insisted most New York skyscrapers built with traditional designs would survive such an impact. He also questioned the makeup of the society's investigation team. On the team were the wife of the trade center's structural engineer and a representative of the buildings' original design team. "I call this moral corruption," said Astaneh-Asl, who is on the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley.
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