Chinese to make Freedom Tower glass?
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
NEW YORK (WABC) -- There are safety concerns over construction at the Freedom Tower.
A Chinese firm will manufacture one of the most important security-sensitive parts of the tower at One World Trade Center. Eyewitness News has learned that several American companies lost out in a bid to make the blast-resistant glass for the building's base. Instead, the safety-critical panels will be made in China.
It's not just a matter of jobs going overseas while America struggles through a near-depression. There's the issue of safety. One American firm has perfected the making of blast-resistant glass.They were the front-runners in the bid to make it for the Freedom Tower, but in a surprise to many in the construction industry, the Port Authority chose a Chinese firm to make the terrorism-resistant glass.
The first 20 stories of the Freedom Tower will have specially designed blast-resistant glass panels. It's a critical part of security for a building that will instantly become an American symbol and therefore a target.
US Glass Magazine is reporting that a U.S. firm, DCM Solera, the lowest bidder, will use a sub-contractor to procure the glass from a Chinese manufacturer.
"This building has to not only meet but exceed every possible safety and security standard out there," fire safety expert Glenn Corbett said.
Corbett says the Port Authority is making a big mistake.
"This is the number one terrorist target in the country," he said. "Why are we setting our standards so low for the minimum possible bid on this?"
The Port Authority released the following statement: "As a public agency, we select contractors...through a competitive bidding process to ensure the best price and quality since the tower is being financed with public money.This contract was awarded last August to an American company, which subbed out the glass fabrication work to a Chinese firm. We've inspected the firm's manufacturing in China and they're confident that the glass they will fabricate will meet or exceed safety code standards."
PPG Industries of Pittsburgh designed and developed the type of glass to be used in the tower, they worked for months with the Port Authority only to lose out to the low bidder.
"Its astounding to us that they would take a project with this level of development work, we all invested in prior to it's completion, it's specifications and with this level of visibility the Freedom Tower and bid it offshore," PPG senior vice president Vicky Holt said.
New York's senior senator is calling on the Port Authority to rescind the glass contract.
"I think that we have seen product after product from China be unreliable, and in this instance, we need the most reliable," Senator Chuck Schumer said.
The Port Authority says it will continue to send representatives to China to monitor the quality of the glass.