SURFSIDE – When the Champlain Tower South collapsed a year ago, the investigation into what happened began almost immediately.
“Every single person on our team is driven by finding out what happened so that something like this never happens again,” said Judith Mitrani-Reiser.
She is the co-lead federal investigator with the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, known as NIST.
“We have nearly two-dozen hypotheses that we’re looking at in earnest, all of them. We haven’t ruled anything out,” she said.
In a public update, co-lead investigator Glenn Bell discussed a few of those theories.
“Some of the hypothesis-related work that the technical team is undertaking includes the magnitude and distribution of any settlements or other movements in the foundation, the impact of adjacent construction especially that of the 87 Park Building just south and any impact in climate change and tidal actions which may have caused buoyancy of the foundation,” Bells said.
NIST investigators say they’re about to begin a critical phase, what’s known as “Invasive testing” of things like concrete and rebar taken from the site.
“Most of these tests involve taking cores out of those specimens so that we can crush them and get compressive strength of the concrete, we’re also planning to do stress tests on the steel bars and we also need to cut those,” Mitrani-Reiser said.
They’ll use the results of those tests to build 3D models.
“The material testing gives us information of the condition of those materials at the time of collapse. So, you can update those computer-based models with the conditions after 40 years of the lifetime of this building. Then you can test different hypotheses,” she said.
Engineer Allyn Kilsheimer is investigating for the city of Surfside.
“Obviously you look at things like foundation, are there any issues with the foundation? Are there any issues with the columns at different levels of the building, are there are issues with the slabs and girders and all that stuff,” Kilsheimer said.
He too will build 3D models for interactive testing. He, like NIST, is laser focused on finding out what brought that building down.
“Chances are what we’ll end up finding it is was several things, each independently might not have caused the problem but when they’re all happening at the same time, that’s what caused the problem,” Kilsheimer said.
Don’t expect conclusions any time soon. According to NIST they believe their investigation will go on at least through September of next year.
NIST is still urging anyone with pictures or information to get in touch with them, which you can do by clicking here. https://www.nist.gov/disaster-failure-studies/data-submission-portal