A flashback.Pieces of Bone Are Found on Building at 9/11 Site
By JIM DWYER
Published: April 6, 2006http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/06/nyregion/06remains.html?_r=3&oref=slogin&oref=slogin&oref=slogin
A crew of demolition workers discovered 74 bone fragments near the World Trade Center site over the weekend, the largest number of remains found since the end of recovery operations nearly three years ago and a sign that significant quantities of human remains may have gone unnoticed in sporadic searches over the years.
Most of the fragments were found mixed among roof ballast — gravel — that had been raked to the perimeters of the roof of the condemned Deutsche Bank building, officials said. The building, at 130 Liberty Street, stands just south of where the twin towers once loomed, and intensive work began there last month to prepare for its demolition.
The towers rose nearly 800 feet above the roof of the building, which was showered with debris and remains on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. Because of extensive damage and contamination, the structure was deemed a total loss, but its demolition has been delayed by legal wrangling and concerns about environmental hazards.
The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which has taken control of the building, began the preliminary stages of demolition two weeks ago. That brought fresh scrutiny to the site, where small quantities of remains have been found occasionally since 2001.
Of the 2,749 people who were killed in the trade center attack, the remains of 1,151 have never been identified, despite advanced DNA testing. To date, the chief medical examiner's office has been unable to identify more than 9,000 fragments taken from the attack site.
In the Deutsche Bank discovery, construction workers retrieved 82 samples, and 74 of them proved to be human remains, according to Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner.
"This is the largest find from the Deutsche Bank, and I would not be surprised if additional quantities of remains are found there," Ms. Borakove said. "They are still doing the cleanup."
All the remains will be subjected to DNA testing, and will be stored indefinitely if they cannot be linked to anyone, Ms. Borakove said.
The word of the large discovery shook Diane Horning, whose son Matthew died in the north tower and who is a founder of WTC Families for Proper Burial. Mrs. Horning said she had requested a meeting with the development agency to discuss its procedures after three fragments were found last month. She was called Sunday evening and invited to a meeting on Tuesday.
"It disturbs me that L.M.D.C. keeps information from us and the public — I would not have known unless I asked for this meeting," Mrs. Horning said. "They're now getting into places that they weren't able to inspect before — knocking things loose, louvers, cooling towers."
John Gallagher, a spokesman for the development agency, said that workers had been conducting abatement of asbestos and other contaminants on the roof.
"Because of the thorough cleaning and abatement techniques that are required for this job, findings such as these are not unanticipated," Mr. Gallagher said.
Mrs. Horning said she was concerned that construction workers without expertise were making decisions about what should be preserved. "We're not asking to halt the demolition — we're asking for it to slow down a bit, knowing that time is money," she said.
She said that the contractor was amenable to getting help from police officers or firefighters.
But Rosaleen Tallon, whose brother, Sean, a firefighter, died in the trade center, questioned whether firefighters or police officers would be any better qualified for the task of distinguishing fragmentary human remains from debris. "You can't dismantle that building that quickly now — we need to make sure other interests are not coming before the preservation of human dignity," she said.
Mr. Gallagher of the development corporation, whose board of directors are appointed by the governor and the mayor, said that the agency was taking great care in the demolition.
"Through rigorous protocols that we established in conjunction with the office of the chief medical examiner, we will continue to make certain that any remains found are treated with the utmost dignity, care and respect," he said.
James Barron contributed reporting for this article.