Outrage over WTC tower plans in trash

April 21, 2008 4:08:43 PM PDT
There are calls Monday for the NYPD to get involved in protecting the new Freedom Tower buildings in lower Manhattan. The demands for action come after two separate plans for the new buildings were found in a garbage can. Eyewitness News reporter Nina Pineda has the story.

The incident has the families of firefighters and 9/11 victims calling for the NYPD to take over the security during construction and as the complex opens. In the meantime, Port Authority officials say they are conducting an investigation to determine who put the plans out with the trash.

Stamped "confidential" and "secure," two separate sets of Freedom Tower blueprints were trashed in a SoHo trash can on Houston Street and in discarded boxes behind the Port Authority office at Ground Zero.

A homeless man, who found one set, alerted the New York Post about the blueprint bungle. It is an outrage for families of 9/11 victims, who are pushing for the NYPD to oversee security. They also want greater accountability for the Port Authority, which is currently in charge of safety and security protocols at the World Trade Center site. Since it is immune and exempt from New York City building and fire codes, skyscraper safety advocates see repeat vulnerabilities in the future structure.

"If a terrorist is to get down there, or any other kind of emergency down below, we're going to have to move large numbers of people out of that sub-terrain area," said Glenn Corbett, of the Skyscraper Safety Campaign.

"It's tremendously ironic that an area as important as Ground Zero is legally immune to those requirements," architect J.C. Calderon said.

As a former FDNY fire chief, whose firefighter son died in the attacks, Frank Riches worries for his remaining sons' lives, should they have to run in again to try and save lives.

"We know they're gonna come back," he said. "They've promised to come back again. It's the biggest security place in the country. Let's get it done right. Let's inspect these buildings and make sure they do them right."

The Port Authority responded by saying that the plans will meet and exceed all New York City building codes. Critics say the problem is that the promises are not binding.