Becky Fenger Fenger PointingSEPTEMBER 8, 2010

Media hides towers inquiry

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Our nation will mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 collapse of the World Trade Towers this Saturday.  Again I quote below from a column I posted in previous years and one more time, ask the question: How long will Americans allow misguided environmentalism and bureaucratic complacency to endanger the lives of our citizens?

Americans are superb at the art of public grieving. No one is better at fanfare and memorializing. No souls voice a stronger resolve to fight back at the enemy terrorists who, we vow, shall not break our spirit. How about the courage to examine our own faulty science that causes unnecessary deaths?

If we Americans are ever to learn from our mistakes, it is high time to face the very real possibility that environmental extremists had as much to do with the rapid collapse of the World Trade Towers as the suicide bombers did, because the structures should have held up for up to four hours before collapsing in a heap of rubble. That’s a strong statement that our government, abetted by the major media, is prepared to ignore. But we were warned decades ago.

The late Herbert Levine invented spray fireproofing with wet asbestos, combining it with mineral wool, in the late 1940s. His formula, which replaced concrete insulation, led to the proliferation of huge steel-framed buildings. Then in 1971, due to exaggerated claims of danger to workers from asbestos fibers, New York City banned its use. Asbestos had been sprayed only up to the sixty-fourth floor of the World Trade Towers at that point. “If a fire breaks out above the 64th floor, that building will fall down,” Levine repeatedly warned.
Luck was with the Towers until the hijacked airliners crashed into floors 96 to 103 of One World Trade Center and floors 87 to 93 of Two World Trade Center.

Steve Milloy is the publisher of, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute and the author of Junk Science Judo: Self-defense Against Health Scares and Scams. Three days after the Tower disaster, Milloy wrote in his weekly column on about the lives that might have been saved. “The insulation was intended to delay the steel from melting in the case of fire by up to four hours,” Milloy writes. “The steel frames of One World Trade Center lasted only one hour and forty minutes, while the steel frames of Two World Trade Center lasted just fifty-six minutes before collapsing,” he documents.

What happened next was nothing short of appalling. Instead of his explosive report making the front pages of The New York Times, Milloy was beset with angry e-mails from readers who felt he shouldn’t have written about the subject so soon. Actually, the media never would cover the story. When I, too, tried to get a major TV network to air how zealotry resulted in “death by environmentalism,” producers responded with yawns.

As you watch the touching memorials unfold this week, think of the number of office workers, firefighters and policemen – precious loved ones – who needlessly died because the buildings prematurely melted to the ground. As you listen to musical tributes and empty talk about “the lessons we have learned about our American character,” think of the waste.
Herbert Levine’s product was never linked to any adverse health effects, but people died because of junk science hysteria. Is anyone listening?

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon marked the day by placing a piece of World Trade Center debris at the plaza across from the state Capitol. Far better if he had unveiled a bust of Herbert Levine.