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Rebuilding NYC

Focus on Ground Zero

•  The Cleanup
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Ground Zero

The Cleanup

Workers at the site worked around the clock to clean up the debris and recover bodies at ground zero. The last recovery crew left ground zero on June 25, 2002. Read about the efforts and milestones of the recovery process below.

News Stories

The Changing Face of Ground Zero - Sep 10, 2002
Marc Santora captures the scene at Liberty Street near Ground Zero yesterday. (New York Times)

More Human Remains Found Near World Trade Center Site - Aug 30, 2002
Three bone fragments found on a Lower Manhattan roof are human remains that may be from one or more victims of the World Trade Center disaster, the Medical Examiner's Office concluded yesterday. (New York Post)

A Grim Job Done, as Dust Is Returned Unto Dust - Jul 16, 2002
For the workers at the Fresh Kills landfill who sifted through 1.62 million tons of rubble from the World Trade Center for remains of those killed on Sept. 11 and for clues about those responsible for the attack, the official end of their job yesterday seemed a sad graduation of sorts. Politicians joined them, along with the family members of some of the victims, for a solemn ceremony at the landfill in Staten Island at the completion of an operation that had continued nearly nonstop since Sept. 12. (New York Times)

Search for Remains Ends With Ceremony - Jul 15, 2002
The city will mark the end of its efforts to recover human remains from the rubble of the World Trade Center today with a ceremony at the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, where more than a million and a half tons of debris have been sifted for clues (New York Times)

Ceremony to Signify End of Search for Remains at Staten Island Landfill - Jul 11, 2002
The end of the search for human remains from the World Trade Center will be marked by a police department ceremony at Fresh Kills landfill on Monday, officials said. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and trade center victims' families all are expected to attend the 9:30 a.m. ceremony. (Newsday)

Search for Sept. 11 Remains Set to End - Jul 10, 2002
The search for human remains in World Trade Center debris at Staten Island's Fresh Kills landfill will end Monday, concluding the 10-month recovery effort, officials said yesterday. (New York Daily News)

Last Recovery Crew Leaves Ground Zero - Jun 25, 2002
The city and the nation at large marked the end of the recovery effort at ground zero nearly a month ago. But it was only yesterday, as a crew of four firefighters carefully supervised the collection of the last bags of possible human remains from a bank building next door to the site of the towers, that the job was complete. (New York Times)

Recovery And Cleanup Officials To Determine How To Clean Up Deutsche Bank Building - Jun 9, 2002
City officials are slated to meet tomorrow to resolve a conflict over searching a contaminated building near Ground Zero for remains, the latest tangle in the recovery effort at the World Trade Center site. Fire Department and Office of Emergency Management officials are to meet tomorrow with management of the Deutsche Bank building at 130 Liberty St., across from the southern edge of Ground Zero, to figure out when that building can be searched for remains, sources said. (New York Post)

More Remains Found At Ground Zero, Ten Days After Official Closing - Jun 8, 2002
Workers searching through debris in buildings adjacent to the World Trade Center site this week found the remains of about a dozen people, city officials said Saturday. In the past week, workers thoroughly searched 90 West St. and 130 Cedar St., two office buildings that were heavily damaged on Sept. 11, said Megan Sheekey, a spokeswoman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Crews searching those buildings over the past week have found bone fragments, teeth and even parts of a plane's luggage rack. The remains will be turned over to the city Medical Examiner's office for identification. (Associated Press)

Ground Zero Oil Leaks Need Cleanup - Jun 6, 2002
A recent environmental report said that the Seven World Trade Center site requires ongoing environmental cleanup. The collapse of the 47-story tower there resulted in the release of 130,000 gallons of oil from the Consolidated Edison substation, while an unspecified amount of oil leaked from two damaged storage tanks formerly owned by Salomon Smith Barney. (Newsday)

Ceremony Honors Those Lost As Recovery At WTC Site Ends - May 31, 2002
A solemn and wordless procession punctuated by tears, the tolling of bells and muted applause rose out of Ground Zero and up into the sunny streets of lower Manhattan yesterday on a morning as bright as the September day terror shattered the city. There were no speeches by the many elected officials and dignitaries present. The only words uttered aloud called those assembled to attention. The removal of debris remaining after the clearing of nearly 2 million tons of rubble is expected by the middle of next week. (Newsday)

Heartbreak, Anger, Timing Keep Many Away From Ceremony - May 31, 2002
As the city paused yesterday to remember the 2,800 innocent lives lost at the World Trade Center, families of several hundred victims stayed away from the tribute at Ground Zero. Their reasons varied. A few boycotted what they called a political event. Many couldn't make it because the tribute was scheduled on a weekday. Others were too overcome with grief (New York Daily News)

Ceremony Without Words Marks End Of Recovery Effort at World Trade Center Site - May 30, 2002
There were no prayers, no speeches, and no words spoken. But the symbolism of the 20-minute ceremony sounded loud and clear as one last stretcher, carried by 10 people, was slowly removed from the World Trade Center site this morning, marking the official end of the recovery effort. Hundreds of people gathered to witness the ceremony, which included a slow-marching bagpipe unit whose progress was marked only by the muted sound of drums and an empty stretcher draped in an American flag that symbolized the victims of the terrorist attack whose remains have not been either found or identified. (New York Times)

Ground Zero Ceremony Stirs Emotion - May 30, 2002
The place where the World Trade Center once towered evokes a flood of contradictory emotions. The recovery effort ends today, but no matter what building, park or memorial is erected on its site, Ground Zero will never disappear from New Yorkers’ collective consciousness. People whose lives changed forever at that spot describe what’s being left behind. (Newsday)

Recovery Effort Goes To The Last Minute - May 30, 2002
Ground Zero crews worked into the early hours this morning, and they will be back again tonight, combing through the final, shrinking pile of debris in the search for human remains. Recovery work at Ground Zero has moved far faster than anyone could imagine - but not quite fast enough to be done in time for today's ceremony to mark the end of the massive effort. (New York Post)

Last Steel Column From the Ground Zero Rubble Is Cut Down - May 29, 2002
Column No. 1,001 B of 2 World Trade Center, the last symbolic piece of the recovery effort, was cut down at 8:17 p.m. yesterday by operating engineers, ironworkers, teamsters, laborers and dock builders. The 58-ton piece of steel from the south tower was laid on a flatbed truck, wrapped in black muslin and an American flag, and tucked in a corner of the pit. (New York Times)

Last Girder Coming Down At Ground Zero - May 28, 2002
The last girder from the World Trade Center at Ground Zero will be removed at a somber ceremony that will be the first of three major tributes over the next few days marking the end of recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site. Sometime before 8 p.m., a procession of workers is scheduled to march from Vesey St. down to the bedrock floor of the 16-acre plot before cutting down the girder and carrying it from the site. (New York Daily News)

Tribute Ceremony To Mark End Of Cleanup And Recovery At Ground Zero - May 17, 2002
On May 30, families of World Trade Center victims and workers who toiled for the past months at Ground Zero will take part in a ceremony held by the city to commemorate the dead and signal an end of the recovery and cleanup. At 10:29 AM, the time the second tower of the World Trade Center collapsed, the last steel beam will be removed from the site and a stretcher symbolizing the unrecovered remains and draped with an American flag will be carried out of the site into an ambulance. (New York Times)

Closing Date For Ground Zero Cleanup To Be Announced By Mayor's Office - May 14, 2002
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city may announce Wednesday the anticipated final day of debris removal at Ground Zero, but he stressed that notifying the families of those killed on Sept. 11 must come first. The city is also planning a “final day” ceremony, which will likely involve thousands of relatives of those lost on Sept. 11 and workers who labored at the site over the past eight months. (Newsday)

Part of Staten Island Recovery Area For World Trade Center Debris Closing Soon - May 14, 2002
The Hill, an area of the Fresh Kills landfill connected to the recovery effort, is soon to shut down. The operation, "created in the genius of desperation, has sorted through 1.6 million tons of material removed from the World Trade Center disaster site. That work has uncovered more than 4,100 body parts, helping to identify more than 150 victims. Now, there are only 25,000 tons to be carted to the landfill from Lower Manhattan, a small fraction of what was. In the next few weeks their mission will be completed, their future certain only to the extent that it will be nothing like what they have just gone through." (New York Times)

Rebuilding Infrastructure and Wiring Downtown Is A Huge Undertaking - May 12, 2002
In this feature from the New York Times Magazine, author Robert Sullivan explores the mammoth effort of rewiring Lower Manhattan after September 11 by taking a look at one particular street. The article discusses the intricacies of wiring underground among decades-old structures and the efforts of Verizon and other communications companies to make sure one of the world's busiest telecommunications areas stays connected. (New York Times)

Fungus Infestation Threatens A Building Still Standing At Ground Zero - May 8, 2002
A 40-story skyscraper at the edge of Ground Zero withstood the terrorist attacks -- but could be demolished because of a gross infestation of foul mold. While engineers have deemed the heavily damaged tower as stable, the outgrowth of fungus has spread such that Deutsche Bank, which owns the building, could end up knocking down the building. (New York Daily News)

Search For Bodies At Ground Zero Near The End - May 8, 2002
Crews at Ground Zero have found no human remains other than a few small bones in the past two weeks, officials said yesterday -- signaling that the recovery effort is drawing to a sad end. Firefighters, cops and construction workers continue to rake painstakingly through the last heaps of debris at the 16-acre World Trade Center site. (New York Daily News)

Barges Near Stuyvesant High School To Stop Transportation of Ground Zero Debris Next Month - Apr 25, 2002
The first of the barges which have towed away Ground Zero debris and have been the source of many complaints over the last seven months is about to be moved, possibly as soon as April 29. By all accounts, all three barges should be tugged out of the Hudson for good before the end of May. (Downtown Express)

Ground Zero Cleanup To Cost Less Than Previously Estimated - Apr 25, 2002
Cleaning up and rebuilding downtown Manhattan is expected to cost up to $29 billion, $6 billion less than previously estimated, according to a report released yesterday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. One reason the cost estimate has dropped since fall is that the cleanup of the World Trade Center site has gone more rapidly than expected. The report also said that 50,000 private jobs were lost in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, and 20,000 more were lost in early 2002. An additional 100,000 city workers were displaced by the attacks. (New York Daily News)

As Recovery Effort Ends, Disappointment Among Some Recovery Workers - Apr 23, 2002
The overwhelming feeling at Ground Zero is not animosity or anger, say the laborers, machine operators, cops, and firefighters. It is frustration -- that many of those who died on Sept. 11 will never be found. "Over 2,800 people perished," said one recovery worker. "We've found about 900 of them. We had hoped to find more." (New York Daily News)

Girder From World Trade Center Will Help Provide Insight Into Collapse - Apr 16, 2002
Recovery workers this week found a mauled, 4-ton column of steel that stretched from the 100th to 103rd floors of the north tower of the World Trade Center. Thick bolts fastened to the column more than 30 years ago -- securing it to a much thinner structural plate -- were still in place. But the plate ripped apart. The National Institute of Standards and Technology, which investigates building collapses after disasters, will get the column -- along with about 60 other steel beams from important areas in the towers. (New York Daily News)

Cleaning Set for Exteriors Near September 11 Site - Apr 6, 2002
Within a few weeks, efforts will begin to clean the exteriors of hundreds of buildings around the World Trade Center site, to keep pollutants like asbestos from blowing off them and into apartments, city and federal officials said today. "While the streets were cleaned up, the outsides of the buildings themselves were not cleaned up," said Christie Whitman, head of the Environmental Protection Agency. She said the buildings would be cleaned using giant vacuum cleaners equipped with high-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, filters, just as the Lower Manhattan streets were cleaned in the months after the Sept. 11 attack. (New York Times)

Tent For Ground Zero Workers Will Remain Open - Mar 30, 2002
A giant tent where Ground Zero workers can find respite will remain open a bit longer instead of the site reverting to a parking lot, Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday. The 35,000-square-foot tent at West and Vesey Sts. was to close because the Battery Park City Authority wanted to reclaim the land as a pay parking lot for reopening businesses. The tent, where workers can eat and take hot showers, is run by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Following an outcry at reports the tent would be closed, officials said it would stay open several more weeks, or possibly a month. (New York Daily News)

Tent for Food and Showers Used By Ground Zero Workers To Be Replaced With Parking Lot - Mar 27, 2002
A huge tent where Ground Zero workers can eat and take hot showers is being dismantled because the Battery Park City Authority wants to reclaim the land as a pay parking lot for reopening businesses. The 35,000-square-foot tent at West and Vesey Sts. -- nicknamed the Taj Mahal by recovery workers -- will close completely on April 14 unless the authority relents, officials said. (New York Daily News)

Recovery Workers Using Global Positioning Satellite Technology To Locate Human Remains - Mar 26, 2002
Using global positioning technology, the Fire Department has created a detailed and gruesome index of exactly where nearly 4,000 body parts, personal belongings and pieces of firefighting equipment have been found at Ground Zero. The data is expected to be used for law enforcement and engineering investigations, identification by the medical examiner's office and for families who want to know where their loved ones were found. A visual depiction of how it works is presented as well. (New York Daily News)

Chapel Near World Trade Center Site To Remain Open - Mar 26, 2002
The leaders of St. Paul's Chapel in Lower Manhattan, which has served as a haven for rescue workers at ground zero since September, said yesterday that they had decided to keep it open until the excavation of the World Trade Center site was completed. The Episcopal chapel was going to be closed for a cleaning after Easter Sunday services, but chapel officials announced last night that it would continue to provide food, rest and counseling to the workers until the end of May. (New York Times)

Fire Department Has Pinpointed 700 New Human Remains - Mar 26, 2002
The effort to find remains at Ground Zero has proven especially productive in the last three weeks, as Fire Department searchers mapped more than 700 new discoveries. In all, 3,069 remains have been cataloged during the cleanup, and searchers classified about 600 as remains of firefighters or police officers based on bits of clothing or equipment. The Times has a map of the discovered remains on its site. (New York Times)

Twenty More Bodies Recovered From Ground Zero - Mar 24, 2002
Ground Zero rescue workers recovered 20 more bodies late Friday night and Saturday, bringing to at least 73 the number of remains found in the rubble of the World Trade Center this month. The bodies included nine firefighters, four Port Authority civilian employees, one Port Authority cop, one Emergency Medical Service worker, one court officer and four civilians. (New York Daily News)

Return of WTC Cars Halted by EPA - Mar 18, 2002
Concerns about asbestos-tainted dust have slammed the brakes on the city's plan to return hundreds of cars towed from streets around the World Trade Center to their owners. The city planned to start giving back the dust-covered vehicles today. But a report about the dangerous coating of asbestos on the cars prompted federal environmental officials to step in. Many of the cars have little body damage. (New York Daily News)

After Many Volunteers Have Left, Some Feel Compelled To Stay - Mar 18, 2002
Most of the far-flung volunteers who have come from all over the country to Ground Zero have returned home. And others have arrived to relieve them. But one of the striking aspects of the magnetism of ground zero and the impulses it has ignited is that a number of the itinerant do-gooders are still here, months after they arrived. Some intend never to leave. (New York Times)

Renewed Feelings Of Loss And Urgency At Ground Zero As Cleanup Nears Completion - Mar 17, 2002
With more bodies being found in a newly uncovered area of Ground Zero, the feeling of urgency to recover the bodies has returned to the site, something not felt since the early days of the cleanup. At the same time, a feeling of loss hangs over the workers, and not just for their fallen brothers found in the site. With the amount of dirt and rubble rapidly diminishing, workers who have developed a kinship with their recovery team, many having worked seven days a week since September, are having a hard time letting go. (New York Times)

Fifteen Bodies Recovered From Ground Zero - Mar 13, 2002
The discovery of a firefighter's boot touched off a painstaking, day-long dig at Ground Zero yesterday that led to the recovery of 15 bodies — 13 of them firefighters. It was the biggest single-day body find in months — and it gave grieving families hope that more bodies will be found. (New York Daily News)

Last Large Pile of Rubble At Ground Zero To Be Cleared - Mar 2, 2002
The construction of a massive steel ramp that will allow Ground Zero workers to clear a large pile of World Trade Center rubble believed to contain human remains will be completed by tomorrow, the engineering firm overseeing its construction says. Monahan said the ramp will enable workers to start removing and sifting through the last mountain of Twin Towers debris. (New York Post)

City Calls on eBay To End World Trade Center Auctions - Feb 22, 2002
The Bloomberg administration demanded yesterday that eBay, the Internet auction company, remove World Trade Center memorabilia from its Web site, calling some of the items for sale "blatant attempts to profit from mass murder" and "nauseating." In recent days, sellers have used eBay to try to auction a flight-simulator computer program that allows users to fly between the towers, graphic photographs of people preparing to jump to their deaths, recordings billed as "911 uncut rescue tapes" and a brass World Trade Center ashtray that is described as "a real conversation piece." (New York Times)

Online Auctions of World Trade Center Items Draws Complaints - Feb 19, 2002
In the first week after the attacks, the auction site eBay banned the sale of Trade Center memorabilia, except for charity, through Dec. 31 after an initial outcry. Now hundreds of World Trade Center-related items are available, sparking criticisms from some quarters. eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove said the company made clear from the beginning that the moratorium would end Dec. 31. The company raised $10 million for charity during a special auction during that period. (Newsday)

Focus Of Recovery Shifts To 45 Damaged Buildings Near Ground Zero - Feb 12, 2002
Five months after the World Trade Center attack, the focus of the recovery effort is moving outward from ground zero to another trauma zone: a ring of battered skyscrapers and other buildings that once held 10 million square feet of floor space, slightly more than the twin towers.These wounded buildings, which somehow remained standing, are no ordinary structures: two are landmarks, one is a key communication center and another held classrooms that served thousands of college students each day. (New York Times)

New Wall To Keep Out Hudson Must Be Built, Says Head Engineer - Feb 6, 2002
According to George Tamaro, the engineer who directed the original construction of the World Trade Center, the "bathtub” which keeps out the Hudson River suffered so much damage on Sept. 11 that a new wall will have to be added before permanent rebuilding can occur. Tamaro, a partner at Mueser-Rutledge Consulting Engineers, believes that a second interior wall -- or "liner wall” -- must be constructed to augment the original "bathtub.” The project would cost $15 million to $20 million, he estimated. Such a project will add an unspecified amount of time to the overall reconstruction of the site. (Newsday)

City Clamping Down on Ground Zero Steel Sales - Feb 5, 2002
The city is telling scrap yards not to sell steel from the World Trade Center to companies that want to exploit the tragedy by turning the wreckage into things like souvenirs, says the Daily News. A Georgia company, International Agile Manufacturing, has been melting tons of the steel into commemorative medallions and selling the souvenirs for $29.95 each. (New York Daily News)

Redevelopment Committee Wants WTC Debris Removed By May 31 - Jan 25, 2002
The Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Committee met Friday morning to set May 31 as a tentative deadline to remove all debris from the World Trade Center site. The committee also said it will begin moving its offices to One Liberty Plaza and the Battery Park Ritz Carlton Hotel sometime next week. Reports from the meeting indicate that recently two of the committee members made a trip to Oklahoma City to study the memorial built there for the victims of the 1995 terrorist bombing. (NY1)

Hazardous Chemicals Were Stored In 7 World Trade - Jan 20, 2002
Con Edison reports show that 7 World Trade Center contained 109,000 gallons of oil and hundreds of pounds of hazardous chemicals in two electrical substations operated by the utility company. It is unknown what happened to the substances after the building collapsed. The substances included PCBs and sulfuric acid, both suspected carcinogens. The possibility of contamination of soil or groundwater has not been ruled out. (NY1)

Ground Zero Cleanup Defies How Jobs Are Usually Done - Jan 20, 2002
The cleanup job at Ground Zero is unprecedented in the history of the city - not only in its size and scope, but also in the speed and efficiency with which it is taking place. While initial estimates for time and cost hovered around $1 billion to $2.5 billion and a year's worth of work, it now appears that the job will be finished in nine months and cost only $750 million. Why? The primary reasons leading to this "construction miracle" have been oversight to prevent corruption, self-policing and unprecedented flexbility of the unions, and the government's willingness to expedite the cleanup. (New York Times)

Contractors at Ground Zero Denied Insurance for Cleanup - Jan 18, 2002
For four months, contractors have been working without any liability insurance covering injury and property damage claims. Insurance companies have simply declared the risk too high and the project too big. Building contractors will now be turning to Congress to provide them with coverage. They hope to convince Congress to indemnify the city and the contractors for any lawsuits stemming from the cleanup. Workers for the contractors are covered by workers' compensation and health insurance. (New York Times)

Migrants Did Dirty & Dangerous Work
New York Daily News - January 11, 2002
Contractors have plucked up to 600 illegal immigrants off street corners to scrub potentially toxic dust out of buildings near the World Trade Center - without giving the workers safety training or protective equipment, the Daily News reported today. State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's office is investigating labor law violations allegedly committed by several cleaning companies near the disaster site.

NYC to End Count of WTC Victims
Associated Press - January 9, 2002
City officials are close to determining a final count of the people who were killed in the attack on the World Trade Center, police said Wednesday. The city's total has stood at 2,893 for three days, decreasing from near 7,000 in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11 attacks. Officials eliminated mistakes and duplicated entries in missing-person reports, and the tally could still be reduced further, said police department Chief Charles Campisi, who heads the effort. "We're very, very close," Campisi told The Associated Press. "I would say we're 99 percent there."

PATH Train Found at Ground Zero
Associated Press - January 10, 2002
Recovery workers at Ground Zero have uncovered a commuter train lying underneath the rubble of the World Trade Center, but no bodies were found inside the train, officials said.

Still Digging for Lost Sons After a Million Tons of Pain
New York Times - January 8, 2002
There exists a sad fraternity of men at ground zero, a dozen or so who lost their sons or brothers in the cataclysm of Sept. 11. For almost all of the 118 days since, most of these men have spent the daylight hours in search of their kin. While the news turns to rebuilding and memorials, these firefighters and rescue workers continue their search.

Anguished Search for Traces of the Missing
New York Daily News - January 6, 2002
Investigators are combing through literally billions of pieces of debris at the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, now home to the 900,000 tons of rubble carted away from the World Trade Center site. So far, 1200 wrecked and burnt-out vehicles have been found at the site, as well as 2900 human body parts. The effort includes hundreds of New York police detectives and federal agents working from 5 A.M to midnight every day.

Changes Continue at Ground Zero
Associated Press - January 4, 2002
Changes continue at Ground Zero as a viewing platform opened to the public at Church Street and Fulton Street last week. Now that most of the larger rubble has been cleared away, two of the largest cranes at the site are being dismantled. Cleanup work will now be consolidated under the direction of Bovis Lend Lease, one of the four contractors that have been assisting in the cleanup since September 11.

Toppling of 'Shroud' Stirs Emotions
New York Times - December 16, 2001
Work crews pulled down the last standing piece of the Twin Towers, four stories of steel known as "the shroud."

Tower Facade To Fall
New York Post - December 14, 2001
The last vestige of the Twin Towers - a haunting skeletal fragment of one of the gleaming buildings - will be taken down this weekend.

At the Pit, a Night Shift to Numb the Body and Soul
New York Times - December 10, 2001
There is no extra money for working the night shift, though there are extra and psychological challenges. There are the strained marriages, the spotty eyes from the floodlights, the cold and the wind. At night, the tourists don't line up to take your picture or slap your back. The movie stars rarely visit. At night, it is all about the work, work that the men and women at ground zero consider an honor to do.

Ground Zero Cleanup To Remain A City Job
New York Post - December 8, 2001
Mayor Giuliani is heeding the advice of federal experts not to replace city workers overseeing the World Trade Center cleanup and will not be hiring the Bechtel construction company for the job.

Firm bidding on cleanup promises recovery of remains will remain priority
Newsday - December 6, 2001
The company negotiating for the Ground Zero cleanup job says it will not try to speed up the recovery effort at the risk of compromising the search for human remains. Bechtel Corporation has in the past used incentive-based contracts that result in bonuses if a job is completed ahead of schedule. Incentive-based contracts are not uncommon in the industry, but at Ground Zero, where an effort to recover human remains continues, such a deal could be controversial. However, an official with the San Francisco-based firm, Bechtel, said yesterday that the firm will forego a schedule-based incentive formula in their contract if chosen for the trade center project.

Cleaning Up at Ground Zero
Village Voice - November 28, 2001
Mayor Giuliani is moving to award the city's biggest-ever emergency contract to one of America's most politically connected corporations. With barely a word of explanation and brushing aside four local firms that have been doing the cleanup since immediately after the attacks, Giuliani has moved to appoint the giant San Francisco-based Bechtel Group, Inc. to take over the lucrative job of cleaning up the World Trade Center site. Since the federal cleanup funds are being allocated by a Republican administration, Washington insiders see the award as a favor to a firm long close to the GOP. But whatever the rationale, Bechtel is a dream ally for someone like Giuliani with potential national political aspirations. The privately held contracting colossus was the fifth largest political contributor during last year's presidential race and poured an additional $449,000 in soft money into political coffers, two-thirds of it to Republicans.