In the Wall Street Journal this morning, Daniel Henninger shed some light on why the Deutsche Bank Building at Ground Zero is still standing:
As part of the demolition plan, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) is obliged to monitor the air inside the building, on the ground and on nearby buildings. These 12 monitoring stations take readings every hour seven days a week. The results are published daily on the LMDC Web site.
The samples measure the presence in the air of the following toxins: asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, respirable particulate, crystalline silica, dioxins/furans, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and the following metals: antimony, barium, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury (gaseous and particulate-bound), manganese, nickel and zinc. Anything evil missing in that list?
Test results: Effectively zero. From April 2005 until now, the 12 monitoring stations have picked up virtually no measurements that exceed levels set by EPA for any of these substances. The cost of these tests is several hundred thousand dollars–a month. What this suggests is that the ambient air in and around this building is clean.
Many other damaged buildings nearby were similarly penetrated by these 9/11 clouds, and they’re inhabited now. So why not ratchet back the regulations to permit a more normal abatement and get this killer building out of sight in Manhattan?
The reasons why not add up to a case study in the routine paralysis we have imposed on ourselves, even as we claim to be living in a modern society. As litigation and publicity inflamed public fear of asbestos and other “toxic” chemicals, the relevance of science fell. “Air quality” has little to do with hourly measurements below scientifically safe limits. The standard now is the air quality in the Garden of Eden. One can overvalue rationality, but eliminate it altogether and what fills the vacuum is expediency. And for regulators and politicians, expediency translates into: Spend the money.
Good point yet I can’t quite figure out his lead. He started by writing about 9/11 commemorations at Ground Zero, “Arguments have finally broken out over whether the clock has run on commemorating the events of September 11, with year No. 6 arriving next Tuesday…,” and never came back to the subject.
Maybe next time.