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View from Ground Zero

'WE'D GONE 10 days without finding any human remains, then we uncovered 14 firefighters, ' says Bovis Lend Lease LMB senior vice president Paul Ashlin, officer in charge of his company's work at the World Trade Center clean up in New York.

His words are a graphic reminder of the human cost of the 11 September terrorist attack and of the horrors faced by the demolition teams as they sift and remove the debris.

Ashlin, an expatriate Brit, is working with his fellow senior vice president Jim Abadie and the 35 strong Bovis team in shifts, seven days a week, 24 hours a day at the World Trade Center south tower, the Bankers Trust building, Vista Hotel and 90 West Street.

The deep basement of the tower is still on fire. 'It is believed the jet fuel collected at the bottom. The robot we sent down fried at 1500C.

'We are getting photos and thermal images from NASA two or three times a week and the fire is diminishing in size, ' he adds.

Bovis has started work installing 4,200 tie backs to hold up a section of the basement 'bath tub' diaphragm walls (NCEI last month). This work is needed before excavation of the debris can start.

The southern wall has shown most signs of movement. 'It is a 70ft wall and it has moved in five inches, ' he says.

Bovis is the biggest player in public sector work in the city.

After the attack 'we offered our services straight away, ' says Ashlin.

At the start it was chaos, he says, but within hours the Fire Department and city authorities, in particular the Department of Design & Construction (DDC), had instilled order.

'I'd been working with them for five years and had built a good professional and personal relationship, ' Ashlin says.

At the moment Ashlin is involved in negotiations to include a depreciation payment to the owners of barges and trucks being used to ferry the debris out of Manhattan.

'It will be a year before we finish here and two years before anyone can start rebuilding, ' says Ashlin 'But there is no question that New York will rebuild.'

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