Updated December 12, 2004

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Key Researcher Casts More Doubt On WTC Collapse

Key Researcher Casts More Doubt On WTC Collapse

Laboratory director fired for questioning official federal Sept. 11 scenario


By Mark Anderson


SOUTH BEND, Ind.—A former laboratory director of a division of Underwriters Laboratories (UL) in South Bend generated considerable heat in professional circles on Nov. 11 when he fired off a letter via email to a prominent metallurgist, questioning the theory that jet fuel fires set by the 9-11 terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center were hot enough to soften or melt structural steel.

Sending that email led to Kevin R. Ryan being fired from his job as site manager at the UL-affiliated Environmental Health Laboratories Inc., in South Bend.

Ryan wrote his professional opinion to metallurgist Frank Gayle at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) because NIST, with Gayle at the helm, is conducting a $16 million, two-year investigation of the twin towers’ collapse, with a draft report expected in January.

UL has played “a limited role in the investigation,” noted The South Bend Tribune on Nov. 22. The investigation reportedly involves testing the type of steel used to construct the World Trade Center—mainly its ability to withstand fires.

The federal probe postulates that burning jet fuel was a primary factor in the structural collapse that led to the “pancaking”-style, vertical demolition of the 110-story WTC towers on Sept. 11, 2001. However, any clear information that throws water on that theory is bound to furl some brows among those who accept the government’s story of how the WTC towers were destroyed.

Ryan, whose firing may be in response to his decision to share his letter beyond the confines of his company and its affiliates, did not return phone messages left for him by AFP on Nov. 29 and Nov. 30.

According to the 911Truth.org News Service, he copied his letter, via email, to David Ray Griffin, author of the book about 9-11 called The New Pearl Harbor. Ryan also copied it to Catherine Austin Fitts, a member of the 911Truth.org board.

Griffin reportedly received permission to distribute Ryan’s letter to other parties.

On Nov. 12, the letter was published at septembereleventh.org, the web site of the 9-11 Visibility Project.

AFP obtained a copy of Ryan’s letter, in which Ryan said he was speaking for himself only, not on behalf of UL or his laboratory. The recipient, Gayle, is deputy chief of the Metallurgy Division of the NIST.

“The buildings should have easily withstood the thermal stress caused by pools of burning jet fuel,” Ryan noted in his rather lengthy letter, referring to the results of performance tests on models of the floor assemblies used in the Twin Towers, as he described it. In the letter, Ryan refutes Dr. Hyman Brown from the WTC construction crew, who claims that the WTC buildings collapsed “due to fires at 2,000 [degrees] F melting the steel.”

Ryan also noted that a newspaper, which he did not name, commented on Brown by saying, “Just-released preliminary findings from a National Institute of Standards and Technology study of the World Trade Center Collapse support Brown’s theory.”

Ryan pointed out in his letter that the steel components would have had to have been exposed to temperatures around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit for several hours.

“And as we all agree, the steel applied met those specifications. Additionally, I think we can all agree that even un-fireproofed steel will not melt until reaching red-hot temperatures of nearly 3,000 F. Why Brown would imply that 2,000 F would melt the high-grade steel used in those buildings makes no sense at all.”

Referring to the summer 2003 results of Gayle’s own published metallurgical tests, Ryan noted that “weak steel” was virtually ruled out at that time as a “contributing factor in the collapse.”

Ryan wrote to Gayle: “Your comments suggest that the steel was probably exposed to temperatures of only about 500 degrees (250 C), which is what one might expect from a thermodynamic analysis of the situation.”

However, Gayle later released additional findings that, according to Ryan, “seem to ignore” the 2003 results.

Ryan pointed out that the summary of the new findings “states that the perimeter columns softened, yet your findings make clear that ‘most perimeter panels (157 of 160) saw no temperature above 250 C.’ To soften steel for the purposes of forging, normally temperatures need to be above 1,100 C. However, this new summary report suggests that much lower temperatures were able to not only soften the steel in a matter of minutes, but lead to rapid structural collapse.”

In the letter to Gayle, Ryan added: “This story just does not add up. If steel from those buildings did soften or melt, I’m sure we can all agree that this was certainly not due to jet fuel fires of any kind, let alone briefly burning fires in those towers. That fact should be of great concern to all Americans. Alternatively, the contention that this steel did fail at temperatures around 250 C suggests that the majority of deaths on 9-11 were due to a safety-related failure. That suggestion should be a great concern to my company.”

Noting that the events of 9-11 “are the emotional driving force behind the War on Terror,” and that the WTC collapse “is at the crux of the story of 9-11,” Ryan told Gayle: “My feeling is that your metallurgical tests are at the crux of the crux of the crux.”

Ryan summarized, “Either you can make sense of what really happened to those buildings, and communicate this quickly, or we all face the same destruction and despair that come from global decisions based on disinformation and ‘chatter.’ . . . Please do what you can to quickly eliminate the confusion regarding the ability of jet fuel fires to soften or melt structural steel.”

The 911Truth.org News Service, quoting a Nov. 12 New York Times report, noted that “the NIST team under Gayle is planning to hold some of its deliberations in secret” and that some 9-11 victims were considering filing a lawsuit “to force the agency to open the meetings to the public.”

The NIST investigation was started in 2002 after lobbying by the Skyscraper Safety Campaign, created by Monica Gabrielle and Sally Regenhard, both of whom lost family members on Sept. 11, 2001.

UL media spokesman Paul Baker had not returned two phone messages as this story went to press.

An unattributed UL-linked comment in the above-mentioned Nov. 22 South Bend Tribune story denied that UL ever certified the materials for building the WTC.

However, Ryan stated in his letter: “. . . [T]he company I work for certified the steel components used in the construction of the WTC buildings.”


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