WORKERS IN FINAL LOOK FOR REMAINS

By WILLIAM NEUMAN


May 2, 2002 -- EXCLUSIVE

After the final debris pile is removed from Ground Zero, recovery workers will still have one last task - lifting and cleaning the timbers that line the base of the 16-acre site to make sure every piece of human remains is saved.

"It's one of the last steps in completing the debris removal and recovery phase," said Port Authority spokesman Allen Morrison.

The foot-thick timbers, known as construction mattings, were put down to make it easier to move around the site and keep equipment and people out of the mud that forms as water seeps into the six-story deep pit.

But as work has gone on at the site, debris has fallen between the 20-foot-long mattings, which lie side by side atop the concrete slab that once constituted the trade center's basement level.

"Everything has to be cleaned down to the concrete," Morrison said. "The mats will be lifted, they will be cleaned, any debris on them will be removed and searched and taken to Fresh Kills."

Officials have predicted recovery work at Ground Zero will wind up by the end of the month, but the cleaning of the mattings could start earlier in portions of the site.

Throughout the nearly eight-month recovery operation, crews have taken great care to make sure they save even the smallest piece of human remains.

For months, recovery workers went through debris three times, once as grapplers removed it from the pile, and then two more times, raking through the rubble after a front loader spread it out on the floor of the site.

Now there is room to spread the debris in an extremely thin layer, so after the rubble is taken from the pile, workers with rakes are able to make a careful second pass for remains, skipping the third step, before sending it to the landfill, where it is examined again.


http://www.nypost.com/news/regionalnews/46982.htm