World Trade Center Building 7 and the Lies of the 9/11 “Truth Movement”

The building suffered severe structural damage from the debris from the north tower collapse

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The building suffered severe structural damage from the debris from the north tower collapse. Firemen described a gaping hole in the south face. We will see glimpses of south face damage through the smoke in photos below and will see clear images of the massive damage to the southwest corner.
No one reports having seen work that might involve the planting of demolitions charges. I’m not aware of anyone who has provided a rational explanation of how this work might have been done and remained unobserved, before, during, and after the building’s collapse. An employee of Solomon Smith Barney who worked in WTC 7 says,

I actually worked at WTC7 and was there on 9-11. From the minute the first plane hit the towers, WTC7 was getting hit with debris.

In fact, when I finally got down to the lobby 45 minutes later, we were all forced to leave through the back since so much debris had hit the building and blocked the entrance.

I also would love to have someone tell me how the 28-44th floors were wired for demolition, when we packed like sardines after the merger with Smith Barney and most floors had people on them 7 days a week. ( A few floors were trading floors so it was 24x7 and many worked 6-7 days a week), and I never saw one construction crew in my time there doing anything significant.

Why won't CT's talk to people who worked at WTC7? My friends and I who worked with at Salomon are eager to talk but I'm guessing you won't like the answers.

Some CTs contend that WTC 7 was demolished to conceal sensitive information that was stored there by some of its tenants. This is one of the silliest of all 9/11 CT claims. Sure: whenever I have information on my hard drives or documents that I don’t want anyone to get their hands on, I always wire my building with explosives, set it on fire, and blow it up. In addition, keep in mind that information was recovered from many computer hard drives found in the WTC rubble. Investigators were keen to have this information, to trace any transactions that may have indicated foreknowledge of the attacks. As the 9/11 Commission report details, these transactions turned out to not have suspicious origins. pg. 145-152

Fires raged uncontrolled on many floors for hours. Lack of hydrant pressure due to broken water mains left firemen nearly helpless to extinguish the blazes.
The building was visibly bulging and was making groaning noises: when a steel-framed building does that it’s in very serious trouble. Reports of the damage from firefighters inside and outside of the building are consistent.
Demolitions experts who saw WTC 7 collapse from nearby neither saw nor heard anything indicating an explosive demolition.
Nothing can be seen or heard in videos that resembles explosive charges going off before the collapse. See below.
Seismic data from multiple sources indicates that, as with the Twin Towers, the collapse of WTC 7 began slowly, completely unlike an explosive demolition but consistent with internal failures leading to global collapse.

Source: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Any detonation of explosives within WTC 7 would have been detected by multiple seismographs monitoring ground vibration in the general area. No such telltale “spike” or vibratory anomaly was recorded by any monitoring instrument. –Brent Blanchard of Protec

Explosive demolitions would not be very controlled, or likely to work at all, if they involved slamming tons of skyscraper debris through a building and then setting it on fire for seven hours. Precision explosives, timers, and wiring don’t like that sort of treatment.

Details of damage to WTC 7 from the tower collapses

NIST’s lead investigator Shyam Sunder weighs in on the damage to WTC 7:

Many conspiracy theorists point to FEMA's preliminary report, which said there was relatively light damage to WTC 7 prior to its collapse. With the benefit of more time and resources, NIST researchers now support the working hypothesis that WTC 7 was far more compromised by falling debris than the FEMA report indicated. "The most important thing we found was that there was, in fact, physical damage to the south face of building 7," NIST's Sunder tells PM. "On about a third of the face to the center and to the bottom--approximately 10 stories--about 25 percent of the depth of the building was scooped out." NIST also discovered previously undocumented damage to WTC 7's upper stories and its southwest corner.

Here’s the area of major debris damage from the tower collapses (source: FEMA)

NIST’s Estimate of damage to WTC 7’s south and southwest sides

Note that the following two photos may correspond only to the relatively minor “Possible roof and upper level damage” described in the diagram above. They may not show what is believed to be more serious damage below.

WTC 7 South face damage further down

Still from video linked above.

From the video September 11, 2001: What We Saw

Looking south towards WTC 6 and 1. 7 is at left. Photographer is nearly 200 meters from WTC1.

A closer look down Washington St. to WTC 6. WTC 7 stands at left, Verizon bldg. at right.

Shepard Sherbell

Photo taken directly in front of the south side of WTC 7, looking west, before it collapsed.

“Scholar for Truth” Steven E. Jones’ Thermite/Thermate Claims

A commonly repeated 9/11conspiracy theory is that an incendiary, thermite or thermate, rather than an explosive, was used to cut the huge steel columns, causing the WTC buildings to collapse. Professor Steven E. Jones, a physicist at Brigham Young University in Salt Lake City, and co-chair of the 9/11 conspiracy-promoting “Scholars for Truth,” is the chief proponent of this theory.

In his paper “Why Indeed Did the WTC Buildings Collapse?” Jones shows a startling propensity for abandoning the scientific method in favor of jumping to unsubstantiated conclusions. As with his “evidence” that Jesus Christ visited the Americas (a Mormon tenet), in his 9/11 work Jones promotes faith over intellectual rigor.

For example, in this rambling defense of his theories, Jones cites an EPA report by Erik Swartz as evidence of the presence of thermite at the WTC: “Large amounts of 1,3 diphenylpropane strongly suggests the high-tech thermite arson used on the WTC buildings...” (bolding mine).

Swartz’s EPA report says nothing of the kind:

One molecule, described by the EPA's Erik Swartz, was present at levels "that dwarfed all others": 1,3-diphenylpropane. "We've never observed it in any sampling we've ever done," Swartz said. He said it was most likely produced by the plastic of tens of thousands of burning computers. The report abstract is here:

In it, Swartz says, “In addition, the compound 1,3-diphenylpropane- [ 1',1'-(1,3-propanediyl) bis-benzene] was observed, and to our knowledge, this species has not previously been reported from ambient sampling. It has been associated with polystyrene and other plastics, which are in abundance at the WTC site.”

Steven Jones claims to have found traces of thermate (thermite with a small amount of sulfur and a large amount of barium nitrate added) on a piece of steel from the WTC. This claim is baseless. Jones found some sulfur and other trace metals, and nothing could be less surprising. Sulfur-based drywall was the third most-used construction material at the WTC. Thousands of gallons of fuel oil containing sulfur was spilled beneath the rubble piles, along with numerous other sulfur-containing inflammables. Thermate typically contains only 2% sulfur, so if the sulfur Jones detected was from thermate, we would expect to see the reaction byproducts of its main ingredients, iron oxide, aluminum, and barium nitrate, in proportionally greater amounts. The qualitative chemical analyses performed on sulfidated steel from WTC 7, 1, and 2 shows no signs of the presence of the incendiaries Jones says were used.

Of course, no evidence of cuts made by thermate or thermite was found on a single piece of WTC steel.

NIST’s informative FAQ covers this issue (excerpt):

Separate from the WTC towers investigation, NIST researchers estimated that at least 0.13 pounds of thermite would be required to heat each pound of a steel section to approximately 700 degrees Celsius (the temperature at which steel weakens substantially). Therefore, while a thermite reaction can cut through large steel columns, many thousands of pounds of thermite would need to have been placed inconspicuously ahead of time, remotely ignited, and somehow held in direct contact with the surface of hundreds of massive structural components to weaken the building. This makes it an unlikely substance for achieving a controlled demolition. (bolding mine)

Analysis of the WTC steel for the elements in thermite/thermate would not necessarily have been conclusive. The metal compounds also would have been present in the construction materials making up the WTC towers, and sulfur is present [approx. 19% by weight] in the gypsum wallboard that was prevalent in the interior partitions.

An excellent paper by chemist Frank Greening discusses sources of sulfur at the WTC site and examines the sulfidation observed in some steel found in the debris pile:

A common CT claim is that the angled column in the photo below is evidence of a cut made by thermite / thermate. Until recently this photo was prominently featured on the “Scholars for Truth” website and in Steven Jones’ papers. It still is featured on the page of another website promoting a debate challenge by the Scholars on ( I have accepted the debate challenge, and as of this writing the debate the debate may be moved to my alma mater, Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire.)

Had these CTs taken a minute to enlarge the photo, as I have done below, they would have seen that the column shows obvious blowtorch marks, and slag sitting on top of the loose debris. Ironworkers used oxyacetylene torches to cut the WTC steel.

None of the hundreds of photos I have of Ground Zero show any sign of steel being cut by incendiaries or blasted by explosives. Thermite/thermate cuts vertically, with gravity. For example, the military uses thermite to disable materiel to prevent it being used by the enemy. A thermite grenade placed on the horizontal hood of a truck will melt straight down through the engine block.

Therefore, to attack a thick vertical steel column with thermite, a large, complex, and extremely durable (capable of withstanding temperatures of 4000 F) apparatus would have to be attached to each column to hold the thermite against the steel throughout the cutting process. And equally durable ignition devices (timers / wiring / radio receivers: take your pick) would need to survive the aircraft impacts/debris impacts and raging fires, and work perfectly when needed.

The huge thermite/ate devices would have to be attached to many columns, for redundancy, because the “conspirators” would not know exactly where the planes or debris would hit. Obviously, it would be highly suspicious if the building collapses initiated in an undamaged area.

Needless to say, no such devices were found in the 1.6 billion pounds of debris that was meticulously sorted by FBI investigators and NYPD detectives at Fresh Kills Landfill, and no evidence of thermite/ate use at the WTC has ever been found. Professor Jones simply ignores the many possible sources of the trace chemicals he found on steel, and he neglects to mention that he did not find traces of some of the most common byproducts of thermite/ate. Nor does he have a chain of custody for this steel that would rule out other sources of contamination.

I’ve only delved this far into this subject to show how quickly the CT claims unravel when examined in the light of the facts. Thanks to “Huntsman” at the JREF forum for his enlightening posts regarding his military experience with explosives and incendiaries.

For now, perhaps we should leave the final word on this issue to Brent Blanchard of Protec, from his paper A Critical Analysis of the Collapse of WTC Towers 1, 2 & 7 from an Explosives and Conventional Demolition Industry Viewpoint:

Dr. Jones acknowledges that his investigation is still in the research phase and that questions regarding the viability of his theory remain unanswered. For example, it is unknown how thermite’s destructive process could have been applied and initiated simultaneously on so many beams – in several buildings – undetected and/or under such extreme conditions. It is also unusual that no demolition personnel at any level noticed telltale signs of thermite’s degenerative “fingerprint” on any beams during the eight months of debris removal.

Silverstein reaps huge insurance profit on WTC 7?
What about an insurance motive? Professional conspiracist and radio host Alex "New World Order” Jones claims that Silverstein walked away with a profit of $500 million after building 7’s insurer, Industrial Risk Insurers, paid its $861 million policy!

This shouldn’t need to be said, but the fact that IRI didn’t dispute the $861 million claim should make it perfectly clear that Silverstein didn’t “admit” to destroying his building.

And lest you think that IRI’s management somehow benefited by turning a blind eye to Silverstein’s “crime,” consider that IRI did contest Silverstein’s lawsuit over his Twin Towers insurance claim.

No. Insurance companies have a funny way of making sure that insured parties don’t destroy their skyscrapers, collect the claims, and drive into the sunset with a truckload of cash. A clause in Silverstein’s WTC 7 policy required him to begin rebuilding within two years, and lenders required that the new building have as much square footage as the old (and they complained mightily when the plans came up short in that department). The cost of the new building? Over $700 million.

Hey, that still leaves Silverstein with a tidy profit of around $161 million, right?

No. There was the small matter of the existing $489.4 million mortgage, which Silverstein paid off with the insurance settlement, leaving him with a shortfall of $328 million heading towards construction of the new building.

The City of New York, desperate to see rebuilding begin downtown, saved Silverstein a bundle in financing costs by offering over $400 million in tax-exempt Liberty Bonds, which the Bank of New York guaranteed.

That move gave Silverstein and his backers the freedom to do something unheard of in recent New York real estate history: start construction of a skyscraper without a major (or minor) tenant on board. And when the building opened in 2006? Still no major tenants. In May, WTC 7 finally got its first possible major tenant when Moody’s Investor’s Service signed a nonbinding letter of intent to occupy 15 floors. More recently, other sizable tenants have signed on.

Sources: “Even as Construction Begins, a New Trade Center Tower Faces Obstacles” New York Times, January 16, 2003. “7 World Trade Center Gets a Major Tenant” Official World Trade Center Site The Building Everyone Will Date But No One Will Marry

Molten metal in the basement was caused by demolitions materials?

There is anecdotal evidence of molten metal in the basements of WTC buildings 1, 2, 6, and 7 in the days and weeks after 9/11. CTs often call this “molten steel,” although the metal in question was never tested and its composition is unknown. Infrared spectrometer readings taken shortly after the collapses showed temperatures near the surface of up to 1375 F: hot enough to melt aluminum, which melts at about half the temperature of steel. Temperatures at the bottom of the piles are unknown. The presence of molten metals is not an indication of planned demolition work. Explosives do not produce pools of molten metal, and incendiaries like thermite burn themselves out in seconds even in the absence of oxygen and would not be available for weeks as fuel. A long-lasting source of fuel was available within the well-insulated piles: the contents of the buildings.

NIST investigators and experts from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEONY)—who inspected the WTC steel at the WTC site and the salvage yards—found no evidence that would support the melting of steel in a jet-fuel ignited fire in the towers prior to collapse. The condition of the steel in the wreckage of the WTC towers (i.e., whether it was in a molten state or not) was irrelevant to the investigation of the collapse since it does not provide any conclusive information on the condition of the steel when the WTC towers were standing. 

NIST considered the damage to the steel structure and its fireproofing caused by the aircraft impact and the subsequent fires when the buildings were still standing since that damage was responsible for initiating the collapse of the WTC towers. 

Under certain circumstances it is conceivable for some of the steel in the wreckage to have melted after the buildings collapsed. Any molten steel in the wreckage was more likely due to the high temperature resulting from long exposure to combustion within the pile than to short exposure to fires or explosions while the buildings were standing.
No evidence of explosives use on exterior columns

Contrary to some CT claims, the outer columns of WTC 7 that are visible in debris photos do not show signs of being sheared by explosives.

First, an overview of WTC 7 perimeter column construction.

Now, how were those columns joined to make long vertical columns?

“Typical core column splices were shown on available erection drawings. The adjoining surfaces of columns were specified to be milled. The splice plates were welded to or bolted to the outsides of the column web and flanges. ...Perimeter column splices were similar to the core column splices. “

Here’s what was seen in building 7’s rubble pile:

The columns separated at their splices. Nothing nefarious or mysterious going on here.

Did diesel fuel for WTC 7’s emergency generators feed the fires?

Short answer: we don’t know. Perhaps the final NIST report will shed more light on this issue, which is an important one.

Across the country, diesel-powered generators are used in buildings like hospitals and trading houses, where avoiding power outages is crucial. Partly for that reason, a definitive understanding of what happened in 7 World Trade Center is vital to investigators, said Jonathan Barnett, a professor of fire protection engineering at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

– “Diesel suspected in WTC 7 collapse” James Glanz, New York Times, November 29, 2001.

WTC 7 contained up to 43,000 gallons (162,273 liters) of diesel fuel for its emergency generators. It is believed that at least some fuel pumps did kick on after the Con Edison power plant went down at 9:59 (see FEMA, NIST reports), perhaps fueling the fires, although this remains speculation.

7,000-gallon tankers

Controlled demolition of a building that’s damaged and engulfed in fire?

How would conspirators know that WTC 7 was going to be hit by huge amounts of debris from WTC 1? After all, they couldn’t just blow up a building that was standing there for seven hours unharmed, right? Just look at how 130 Liberty Street (Banker’s Trust / Deutsche Bank) was hammered by debris from WTC 2 and received an 18-story gash, but only had small fires (Its damage was not as severe as that done to WTC 7, but it was severe enough that the building is being torn down).

Aha! CTs reply with the explanation that fires were set in building 7 as “cover” for the demolition operation. As mentioned above, this makes no sense whatsoever. If CTs want to claim that the WTC demolition looked just like a controlled demolition (CD), they cannot also claim that it did NOT look like a CD. In addition, claiming that the fires were set to throw investigators off the track of the real cause of WTC 7’s collapse is to admit that fires can bring down steel buildings. They can, and do, all the time. I suggest that doubters look into the Kader Industrial Toy Factory fire of 1993, in which three large multistory (un-insulated) steel-framed buildings quickly collapsed, without being severely damaged beforehand.

A building prepped for controlled demolition. The yellow lines are detonation cord.

The “No modern steel skyscraper” argument

“But wait a minute!” cry the CTs. “Before 9/11, no modern steel-framed skyscraper had ever completely collapsed due to fire!”

To which I reply: every modern steel-framed skyscraper that was subjected to these conditions has completely collapsed:

    • Severe structural damage.

    • Damage to the thermal protection on its structural steel.

    • Enormous uncontrolled fires on multiple floors.

According to NIST, those are the three interdependent reasons that the Twin Towers collapsed. If any one of the three conditions didn’t exist, NIST says that the towers probably wouldn’t have fallen. As mentioned earlier, NIST’s final report on WTC 7 is due out in 2007.

Can office fires cause large steel columns to buckle?

“But WAIT a minute! Office fires, even if they’re started by jet fuel, can NOT get hot enough to cause huge steel columns to buckle!” (If the CTs have a mantra, it is this. Actually, they almost always use the straw man statement “to melt steel.”)

CTs, you are dead wrong.

In WTC Building 5, this large column and beam buckled

on floor 8 of 9. The fire was fueled by office materials only.

Source: FEMA report on WTC 4, 5, and 6, page 15.

Now, imagine if this floor had also been hit by an airliner traveling at 400-500 knots, destroying and weakening surrounding columns and blasting the fire protection off the steel. Now imagine another 200 million pounds (90,718,000 kg.) of building resting on this damaged foundation.

Another way of looking at this is, if office fires can’t get that hot, why is it the law in New York City that all steel-framed buildings over 1 story tall must have fire resistant coatings applied to their structural steel?

Jonathan Barnett, PhD, a fire protection engineer who investigated its collapse, says of WTC 7,

It doesn’t take that much fire protection to be removed for the steel to fail.”

–The History Channel: Modern Marvels: Engineering Disasters #13

As Frank Brannigan states in his Building Construction for the Fire Service text, there are still some misconceptions that steel construction and steel buildings are safe when attacked by fire. This is as far from the truth as you can imagine.

Below: missing fire protection and fire-induced buckling on a 23rd-floor column at 90 West St. This 9/11 fire was fueled by office contents only. Fire was fought and extinguished using lines run from a fireboat on the Hudson River. Columns on the on the 8th floor also buckled.

Source: FEMA

Fire protection knocked off column & beam inside 130 Liberty St. by debris from the south tower. WTC 7 & 130 Liberty may have sustained similar damage, but the latter had only minor fires in its basement, which were extinguished.

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