The Trouble with WTC Asbestos

David Rockefeller and his brother, Nelson, originally conceived the twin towers as an urban renewal project to revitalize Lower Manhattan. In 1966, 164 buildings, including many electonics stores in seedy radio row, were demolished to create the WTC construction site.

But, with the realization of the Rockefellers’ urban renewal dream came a nightmare: by the time the first tenants moved into the North Tower in December 1970, the World Trade Center was rife with asbestos…asbestos that 31 years later covered all of Lower Manhattan.

Exactly How Much Asbestos Did the WTC Contain?

Twin Tower Asbestos

Nobody seems to know exactly how much asbestos was in the WTC, but click on the image to the right and you’ll get a pretty good idea: a lot!

The New York Port Authority originally planned to use 5,000 tons of asbestos fireproofing. The fireproofing, trademarked Blade-Shield, was manufactured by United States Mineral Products of Stanhope, N.J. It was 20% asbestos mixed with mineral wool — a concrete-like substance made from melted rock.

By 1971, medical studies began to show the cancerous effects of asbestos, and New York City banned its use in construction — but not before asbestos-containing Blade-Shield was sprayed on the beams and supports of the first 40 floors of the Twin Towers.

The Port Authority claims that over half of the applied asbestos-containing fireproofing had been removed by September 11, 2001.

So, how much asbestos remained in the Twin Towers?

Estimates vary from 400 tons all the way up to 2000 tons.

Getting Rid of 400 Tons of Asbestos

By the 1990s, the twenty-year-old Twin Towers — like any other twenty-year-old office buildings — were due for some major upgrades.

Writes John Perkins in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man:

…in recent years the complex…had the reputation of being A financial misfit, unsuited to modern fiber-optic and Internet technologies, and burdened with an inefficient and costly elevator system.

Unfortunately, due to the danger of spreading asbestos dust, building codes required any remodeling work be preceded by removing the asbestos.

So, in 1991, with two gigantic out-of-date office buildings on its hands, the Port Authority tried to garner the immense funds required to remove the asbestos: it filed suit against its insurers. The case, Port Authority of NY vs. Affiliated FM Insurance Co., sought between 500 million and 1 billion dollars for asbestos abatement.

The case dragged on for years, and then finally, on May 14, 2001, the judge ruled against the Port Authority; there would be no insurance money for asbestos removal.

Because of the asbestos health risks, and their size, the Twin Towers couldn’t be demolished. And because of the asbestos, they couldn’t be upgraded. And disassembling them floor by floor would have run into the double-digit billions of dollars.

So, that’s how, by May 2001, the Port Authority found itself between several rocks and the hard bedrock 70 feet beneath the WTC.

The Bright Catastrophe at the End of the Tunnel

Lucky for the Port Authority, a gullible guy named Larry Silverstein showed up (actually, Silverstein was no stranger to the Port Authority — he’d developed and constructed Building 7 on the WTC site), and he wanted to lease the out-of-date no-future Twin Tower money pits. On July 24, 2001, Silverstein purchased the lease for 99 years in a deal worth over $3.2 billion. He then took out insurance policies that covered terrorist attacks. Just seven weeks later, we’re told the terrorists did indeed attack. That’s what we’re told…but one can never be sure of a story worth $3.2 billion.

To date, Silverstein has received almost $5 billion from nine different insurance companies.

Meanwhile, mesotheliomasos, a rare lung cancer, has already begun to kill some of the hundreds of thousands of Manhattan residents and 9/11 first responders. Doctors and scientists agree that an increasing number of cases will appear due to the tons of WTC asbestos that rained down on Manhattan.

[tags]wtc asbestos, 9/11, 9/11 conspiracy, 9/11 truth, Larry Silverstein, New York Port Authority[/tags]

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26 Responses to The Trouble with WTC Asbestos

  1. John says:

    This is a good piece of work. Thanks for the info.

  2. Xman says:

    I held a hand of both my Grandfather and Great Uncle as they died from this disease, which they got at the Mare Island shipyard in Vallejo, California. A friend was an EMT at the WTC. Another friend helped carry that torn flag. I hear even a little exposure is enough.
    btw, and not to throw cold water on the suspicious coincidence of the WTC thing, but let’s not forget that in ’93, terrorists had blown up the WTC. If I was Silverman, insurance against future terrorists might have been a prudent and responsible action. A landlord does have a responsibility to tenants and since there had already been one attack…..
    Plus, if I was a tenant looking to locate my business in the WTC, I know I’d have been more comfortable signing a lease for my business (and safety of my employee’s), knowing it was insured for terrorists…given the history.
    Finally, I used to be a facility manager for a national banking chain. Experts advised against asbestos removal, saying it was safer to leave it in place in many cases (floor tiles, etc.)

    I like conspiracy theories as much or more than the next guy, but I like to factor in as much info as possible.
    Thought my info would be helpful and thought provoking.

  3. JoeC says:

    I agree there’s no big surprise that Silverstein bought a lot of insurance, but why would Silverstein — or anybody — buy a property with so many unsolvable problems in the first place? It reeks of the old strategy of paying arsonists to burn your own buildings to collect the insurance money, just taken to a level never seen before. Maybe Silverstein wasn’t in on it, but something about 9/11 stinks, and Silverstein is one of the many players who had a motive to play a part and a motive to be quiet. Not saying he’s guilty, just that there’s a motive there.

  4. Xman says:

    Understood, Joe, and I agree.
    To support your Silverman theory…then he would have bargained for a real deal on the less than prime property, right? I don’t know if he got a deal or not.
    I wish we would get a real clear and easy to buy investigation/explanation of why #7 was knocked down, too. Leaving it unclear, leaves me with my suspicions.
    It would be logical to explain these things clearly and inspire confidence and support of the people. But then the Bush administration doesn’t honestly, openly and clearly document anything. As Bush once said: “I don’t feel I have to explain anything to anybody” (paraphrased somewhat). Thus we have the most distrusted administration that I know of. Hmmm…of course there was Nixon. Oh, then we found out all about Reagan. I wish all we had these days was cigars and blue dresses to talk about.

  5. Mike G says:

    The funny thing about asbestos fireproofing is that it was far superior to the alternate material that was substituted from the 40th floor upwards in Tower One and in the entire Tower Two. See this link Who knows if those may have still been standing on 9/12/01.

    From practical experience in the building trades, once the asbestos is in place, it’s quite safe. (air quality tests, etc) It’s the applicators who don’t take the required precautions that are truly at danger. That was the case for most of the shipyard workers who were spraying the stuff on day after day without even having respirators because they were told or just believed that this mineral stuff was non-toxic.

  6. JoeC says:

    Mike, from what I’ve read you’re right — as long as the asbestos is in place and contained, it’s pretty safe. The problem with the WTC was that it was time to add more power wiring for all the computers an office building has these days, and add additional stairways between floors, and refurbish things, and all that cutting into walls, etc., required exposing the asbestos to the occupants…and so, the building codes required areas to be cleaned up before being renovated…and so much renovation was needed that it was going to cost more than the buildings were worth — much cheaper just to rebuild them.

  7. Mike G says:

    Joe, it’s the dose that makes the poison. The casual, infrequent breathing of asbestos fibers causing cancer has been refuted. All the studies demonstrating a definitive link were for mega-doses inhaled over prolong periods of time. The nearest thing to linking casual asbestos exposure to any form of cancer was a possible statistical correlation of approximately 3 deaths per 100,000 persons. This is only a statistical correlation and could (probably) be background noise in the data.
    The whole cancer scare came during the early years of environmentalism when the EPA established a zero-tolerance towards possible hazards. If mega exposure increased cancer risks, then they figured that any “dose” was dangerous. The problem is that that truism isn’t true.
    Getting back to the WTC; the minor work altering the asbestos should have had tenting and air cleaning during the asbestos work and the workers should be wearing respirators. The asbestos should have been patched with asbestos cement. While exposed, the existing asbestos could have sprayed with an encapsulating paint.
    The real sad part is that had the asbestos fire proofing been used throughout the towers, there is a good chance that they would still be standing.

  8. John says:

    I’m not concerned with conspiracy so much as garden variety stupidity and irresponsibility, followed by cover-up.

    1. We’ve known since 1993 that the WTC was a target.
    2. The August 6 PDB told us the who, what, where, and how of the 911 attack (not when).
    3. Silverstein was smart enough to insure for terrorist attacks.
    4. Why weren’t air defences better prepared for intercept/shoot down.
    5. What information did Sandy Berger smuggle out of the National Archives?

    A simple lock on the cockpit doors might have prevented the whole thing.

    “Nobody lost their job over 9/11″ – John McCain.

  9. Peothre says:

    Silverstein was probably a patsy. That’s how they unload these clonkers.

  10. Silverstein was extorted by the the RICO front group known as KPMG to insure the Twin Towers for terrorist purposes to make it look like he’s responsible, partly anyways, for 9/11 i.e. Global Guardian ’01 war game. He got roughly 10% of the final settlement as payment.

  11. ian coulson says:

    White, blue and brown asbestos are extremely carcinogenic. There are no safe levels, even small doses can result in mesothelioma, asbestosis, stomach, colon or throat cancer . The construction industryhas known this for the last 150 years, however, they have deliberately minimised the dangers and relied on the employee’s ignorance. Indeed, there are may instances in which employers have actively discouraged construction workers from wearimg respiratory equipment. There are also many other cases where the breathing filters equipment has been inadequate. It is simply untrue to say that small doses are not lethal. My father died of mesithelioma. He was a truck driver who delivered wood for a timber merchant; from time to time he would deliver a sheet or two of asbestosis sheeting to a buyer. He did not work in an enclosed space or breathe in large doses.

  12. JoeC says:

    In April 2007, the Centers for Disease Control stated that 62% of those who had been at or near the World Trade Center on the day that the towers collapsed are now suffering from permanent respiratory problems. Another 46% of those who were not there, but who live and work in the area now also suffer from respiratory problems. Mount Sinai Medical Center discovered that 85% of the 70,000 participants in its World Trade Center study are suffering from respiratory problems.

    First Resonder Deborah Reeves dies of mesothelioma cancer, which develops after exposure to asbestos.

  13. Dusty says:

    Good info and very interesting comment thread Joe ;)

  14. Mike Conell says:

    Inside job. Twice! Way too many improbable coincidences. Put options, stand down orders, Northwoods report, PNAC, Cipro, Anthrax and so many more.

  15. Xman says:

    The “casual dose not being lethal” argument is bunk. Whether it is currently in vogue or not.

    Three people very close to me have died from this disease.

    1. My Grandfather worked as an estimator at Mare Island Naval shipyard in Vallejo, California. He never touched the stuff. He just figured the cost of building ships and refits. They travelled the world in a desperate and illogical search for a “cure”. I went on some of these trips to Mexico, the Philipines, etc. Unfortunately, my Grandmother died of a heart attack 5 days after he died and was unable to sue.

    2. My Great Uncle worked in the same shipyard. His specialty was boiler rooms. Lots of the stuff in there. I was with him as he died a long and suffering death. Fortunately, my great aunt did sue and this was a great supplement to her meager retirement.

    3. My best friend died at age 32. We all looked for any way he could have been exposed. He was a motorcycle racer as a youth. Not a great one. Always rode back in the pack. His wife got a big payout when it was determined that he had breathed dust from motorcycle brake pads for the years he was in the sport. He left behind two beautiful children who will hardly have any memory of him.

  16. Another example of the consequences of a cultural pantheon
    ranking profit as a loftier god than prosperity.

  17. Xman says:

    Thanks Indigo.
    Not really changing the subject, but just apllying your comments to a different area.

    Your comment makes me think of Nicaragua. It was doing so much good for it’s people and then we financed the contras for so many years and finally brought misery back to their culture.

  18. Xman- What we did in Central America was brutal and tragic, and (like the W years) will continue to be consequential for who knows how long?

    It’s amazing how many in this country are ignorant of the blood on our hands.

  19. Xman says:

    If you have read: “Confessions of an Economic Hitman”, you suspect it is still going on and always will…everywhere.

  20. Xman- Heard of the book, and I think I heard the author intvwed, but haven’t read it.

    I lived in Costa Rica for a couple of years, and I heard some things I wish I hadn’t. But, I saw something recently about Daniel Ortega re-emerging onto
    the scene so I’m hoping things are better.

    I’m not very savvy when it comes to politics and political intrigue, but even I saw through the lies and am appalled at the atrocities that seem to go unnoticed by the mainstream. The world seems to be getting bloodier, not more peaceful. It’s a crying shame.

  21. Xman says:

    I agree. It also seems to be going more fascist.
    Last night the girl next door shoveling snow woke me up. For the next hour I made a list of all the negative things about human society(including her thoughtlessness). Feeling that bad triggered the need to make a list of all the good that would hopefully balance it. I came up short…and when I did the same thing to the entire history of mankind, I knew I’d never get to sleep. So I got up, ate big chocolate chip cookies and milk and watched Jet Lee and Mira Sorvino kill a bunch of bad guys.

  22. Mira Sorvino is not bad consolation.

  23. caz says:

    Speaking of “spray-on” fire proofing material, there is likely a connection to NIST. Rather than me trying to spell it out, best to google “The Top 10 Connections between NIST and Nano thermite” by Kevin Ryan. Never mind the knee-jerk responses to this, just read the article and draw your own conclusions. :)

  24. Paul Firth says:

    Why don’t all the people of New York and the people that had lost relatives and those who are now suffering as a result of 911 sue the man who owned the complex? He knew what he was doing acquiring the complex as did the man who leased it to him, as Silverstein was the lowest bidder but the man in charge of the Port Authority is also a Jew like Silverstein. During his 6 week ownership he had the sense to insure against terrorist attacks at a cost of 15 million dollars, it made him 4 billion dollars richer how convenient? I read the following piece about the Port Authority and its proposals; it’s taken from

    Silverstein Makes a Huge Profit off of the 9/11 Attacks:

    It was well-known by the city of New York that the WTC was an asbestos bombshell. For years, the Port Authority treated the building like an aging dinosaur, attempting on several occasions to get permits to demolish the building for liability reasons, but being turned down due the known asbestos problem. Further, it was well-known the only reason the building was still standing until 9/11 was because it was too costly to disassemble the twin towers floor by floor since the Port Authority was prohibited legally from demolishing the buildings. [Arctic Beacon]

    But as Dimitri Khalezov Book Third Truth 911 and movie, which the US government is desperately try to force all the websites that have the movie to download to delete from their sites or shut them down. As he says that the towers were brought down by nuclear demolition, which is the most possible result yet from all the films I’ve got concerning 911. I have 60GB of films concerning 911 and I believe that the US government was responsible and I also believe that Silverstein was behind it. He didn’t give a dam about the people who lost their lives or the families involved, he was only thinking about how much profit he would make. Why they didn’t charge him with arson is beyond belief, but his friends in high places would have taken care of that; another movie worth watching is called “Missing Links”. He’s one of the biggest Israeli mafia bandits in the US today and he has a great many Jewish friends in high places in the US government.

    Regards Paul.

    P.S. Please excuse any mistakes as I have Motor Neurons’ Disease, and my brain works faster than my hands and I am typing in UK English.

  25. Pingback: what is asbestos found in

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