Proposed World Trade Center has Major Security Vulnerabilities

Law enforcement officials and security experts have concerns about security…

Law enforcement officials and security experts have concerns about security weaknesses in the planned World Trade Center complex, the New York Daily News’s Greg Smith and Douglas Feiden report. The potential problems expressed to the Port Authority and others involved in the most high-profile development project in New York City history include:

* A row of three mostly glass towers positioned too closely to city streets, increasing their vulnerability to attack

* Difficulties in inspecting some 2,000 delivery trucks and sightseeing buses that will enter or leave the site daily

* A vehicle security center which has not been fully designed and relies on vehicle inspection technology that has not even been developed yet

Asked about weaknesses uncovered by the Daily News in the plans for rebuilding Ground Zero, Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne said, “The NYPD has been in talks with the Port Authority, but we don’t disclose any information about possible security vulnerabilities for obvious reasons.”

Port Authority spokesman Stephen Sigmund said the agency is “very confident that the entire rebuilt WTC site — every building and every square inch — will operate with an unprecedented level of safety and security.” Michael Balboni, Governor Elliot Spitzer’s deputy secretary for public safety, emphasized, “At the end of the day, this will be one of the most secure footprints on the globe.”

Law enforcement counterterrorism specialists have pinpointed serious flaws in key components of the Trade Center site, including three of the signature office towers projected to open by 2012. Towers 2, 3, and 4 — which will rise between Greenwich and Church Streets to 79, 71, and 64 stories, respectively — contain too much glass, sources familiar with the issues said. They also are not set back far enough from the two streets — where uninspected trucks will whiz by — to meet the most rigorous security standards, the sources said. “The reimposition of the street grid is an integral part of the plan to bring vibrancy to lower Manhattan,” said Avi Schick, chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. “The administration understands the need to balance that goal with legitimate security concerns.”

Another concern: The buildings do not meet Department of Defense or DHS blast standards. This means they can withstand certain types of explosions — but not more powerful blasts. The DOD blast standards — rarely applied to U.S. skyscrapers — are typically used in U.S. embassies and missions abroad, sensitive government facilities, and military bases.

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