Team of national scientists to visit Surfside collapse site

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is sending a team of six scientists and engineers to the site of Thursday’s partial building collapse at Champlain Towers South “to collect firsthand information,” the NIST confirmed to Local 10 News on Monday.

That information will be used “to determine if an investigation or study will be conducted” by the NIST.

These NIST experts plan to work with local, state, and federal authorities to “identify and preserve materials” that the national group says could aid the understanding of why the building collapsed.

A NIST spokesperson said circumstances on the ground will determine the timeline of when the team plans to provide a recommendation of whether a full investigation should be conducted, but the plan is for that recommendation to be completed in the “next week or two.”

“If a National Construction Safety Team (or NCST) is established,” a NIST spokesperson said, “we expect that an investigation will take months to years to complete. Previous investigations have taken at least two years to complete.”

BREAKING: National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) tells me it is sending a team of six scientists and engineers to #SurfsideBuildingCollapse “to collect firsthand information…that will be used to determine if an investigation or study will be conducted.” pic.twitter.com/1Vhb75IsBG

— Christina Boomer Vazquez (@CBoomerVazquez) June 28, 2021

NIST has conducted four investigations “using the NCST Act authorities,” which include:

World Trade Center (published 2005)Station Nightclub Fire (published 2005)Joplin Tornado (published 2014)Hurricane Maria (ongoing, but interim report published recently)

If NIST chooses to conduct a full investigation or study into the Surfside building collapse, the goal of the reports “would be to determine the technical cause of the collapse and, if indicated, to recommend changes to building codes, standards and practices, or other appropriate actions to improve the structural safety of buildings.”

The National Construction Safety Team (NCST) Act, signed into law on Oct. 1, 2002, by President George W. Bush, authorizes the National Institute of Standards and Technology to establish teams to investigate building failures.

It is modeled after National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which investigates transportation accidents.

The NIST launches teams of experts to assess building and infrastructure procedures in the wake of what it calls “disaster and failure events” that result in a “substantial loss of life” or can pose a significant potential of substantial loss of life. These events can include national disasters or construction/design failures or terrorist attacks.

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