WASHINGTON — The National Institute of Standards and Technology is expected today to announce the launch of an investigation into the building collapse in Surfside, Fla., Yahoo News has learned.
A press conference is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET, and NIST officials are expected to make a formal announcement.
NIST is part of the Commerce Department. Earlier this week, six of its scientists and engineers went to the site of the Champlain Towers South collapse to collect information and assess whether a full probe into the collapse is warranted.
NIST, which is modeled on the National Transportation Safety Board, conducts investigations into building collapses, including the collapse of the World Trade Center towers after 9/11.
“I’m here to let you know that I’ve established a national construction safety team to investigate the June 24 collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium,” NIST Director James Olthoff announced at a press conference held Friday evening.
“This will be a fact-finding not fault-finding technical investigation," he said. "It will take time, possibly a couple of years but we will not stop until we have determined the likely cause of this tragedy.”
He said the work of his team will not interfere with ongoing search and rescue operations.
NIST is a non-regulatory agency with more than 50 years experience studying disasters and failures caused by events like earthquakes, fires and terrorist attacks.
“What our experts learn from these events lead to better building codes, standards and practices," he said.
For several days, NIST experts have been on the ground working with local, state and federal agencies, said NIST Associate Chief of the Materials and Structural Systems Division Judith Mitrani-Reiser, who is co-leading the probe.
“Based on the information that we have collected we are able to recommend a full technical investigation under the National Construction Safety Team Act,” she said. “We will now establish a team to begin the painstaking process of collecting and analyzing any and all information that might help us determine the technical cause of failure.”
This is a developing story.