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Introduction

In the past six years, the United States and its citizens have been the victims of five major bombing attacks. The attack on the World Trade Center in New York City in February 1993 and on the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in April 1995 occurred on U.S. soil. Attacks off shore included bombing of the military complex at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, in 1996 and the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. These events, previous bombings in Kuwait and Beirut, and lethal attacks elsewhere have generated considerable concern about the ability of the United States to protect buildings and their occupants from bombings and other direct physical attacks.

In 1995, in the wake of the bombings of the World Trade Center and the Murrah Federal Building, the National Research Council (NRC) published Protecting Buildings From Bomb Damage: Transfer of Blast-Effects Mitigation Technologies from Military to Civilian Applications (NRC, 1995). This report found that much of the structural research and testing that had been done in support of military missions during the Cold War was generally applicable to civilian design practice and recommended that a program be initiated to continue research and technology transfer to improve the performance of civilian buildings, minimize casualties, and improve rescue and recovery operations in cases of terrorist bombing attacks.

Although designing and building structures to withstand the effects of explosive devices has been a topic of active interest and research in the defense community for many years, these activities were focused mostly on preventing structural failures that would compromise or destroy mission-critical systems. This focus led to the construction of heavily reinforced bunker-type structures and underground facilities that are fundamentally different from the commercial civilian facilities used extensively to house military troops and civilian personnel. Since the bombings in Oklahoma City and Saudi Arabia (Khobar Towers), which both caused many casualties, force protection (i.e., ensuring the safety of personnel in all types of structures) has become a critical mission parameter for the U.S. military.

In 1997, at the direction of the Congress, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) established the Blast Mitigation for Structures Program (BMSP) to identify design and construction practices and improved materials for more robust construction to protect its forces from terrorist attacks. However, this knowledge of blast effects on structures and their subsystems, appropriately refined and applied to commercial design and construction practices, could also save civilian lives and reduce property damage. For example, studies of recent attacks on buildings both here and abroad indicate that the number of fatalities is very strongly correlated with building collapse. However, even if a building does not collapse, blast-induced debris, smoke, the destruction of fire- and life-safety systems, and obstructions to prompt rescue are significant causes of injury and death. If the robustness of the structure and critical systems can be improved, the recovery and reuse of the building would be a major payback of the costs of using blast-mitigating designs. Therefore, it would be of benefit to military and civilian communities to develop an integrated research program to minimize casualties in the event of bomb blasts, as well as facilitating rescue and recovery operations. The research program should also include the planning and provision of emergency medical services in the aftermath of the event.



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Blast Mitigation for Structures: 1999 Status Report on the DTRA/TSWG Program 1 Introduction In the past six years, the United States and its citizens have been the victims of five major bombing attacks. The attack on the World Trade Center in New York City in February 1993 and on the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in April 1995 occurred on U.S. soil. Attacks off shore included bombing of the military complex at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, in 1996 and the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. These events, previous bombings in Kuwait and Beirut, and lethal attacks elsewhere have generated considerable concern about the ability of the United States to protect buildings and their occupants from bombings and other direct physical attacks. In 1995, in the wake of the bombings of the World Trade Center and the Murrah Federal Building, the National Research Council (NRC) published Protecting Buildings From Bomb Damage: Transfer of Blast-Effects Mitigation Technologies from Military to Civilian Applications (NRC, 1995). This report found that much of the structural research and testing that had been done in support of military missions during the Cold War was generally applicable to civilian design practice and recommended that a program be initiated to continue research and technology transfer to improve the performance of civilian buildings, minimize casualties, and improve rescue and recovery operations in cases of terrorist bombing attacks. Although designing and building structures to withstand the effects of explosive devices has been a topic of active interest and research in the defense community for many years, these activities were focused mostly on preventing structural failures that would compromise or destroy mission-critical systems. This focus led to the construction of heavily reinforced bunker-type structures and underground facilities that are fundamentally different from the commercial civilian facilities used extensively to house military troops and civilian personnel. Since the bombings in Oklahoma City and Saudi Arabia (Khobar Towers), which both caused many casualties, force protection (i.e., ensuring the safety of personnel in all types of structures) has become a critical mission parameter for the U.S. military. In 1997, at the direction of the Congress, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) established the Blast Mitigation for Structures Program (BMSP) to identify design and construction practices and improved materials for more robust construction to protect its forces from terrorist attacks. However, this knowledge of blast effects on structures and their subsystems, appropriately refined and applied to commercial design and construction practices, could also save civilian lives and reduce property damage. For example, studies of recent attacks on buildings both here and abroad indicate that the number of fatalities is very strongly correlated with building collapse. However, even if a building does not collapse, blast-induced debris, smoke, the destruction of fire- and life-safety systems, and obstructions to prompt rescue are significant causes of injury and death. If the robustness of the structure and critical systems can be improved, the recovery and reuse of the building would be a major payback of the costs of using blast-mitigating designs. Therefore, it would be of benefit to military and civilian communities to develop an integrated research program to minimize casualties in the event of bomb blasts, as well as facilitating rescue and recovery operations. The research program should also include the planning and provision of emergency medical services in the aftermath of the event.

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Blast Mitigation for Structures: 1999 Status Report on the DTRA/TSWG Program The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), under the sponsorship of the DoD Technical Support Working Group (TSWG), has initiated the BMSP to meet these objectives. To ensure that the research program addresses high-priority needs in a technically sound and cost-effective manner, the former Defense Special Weapons Agency (since subsumed into DTRA) requested that the NRC review the BMSP program annually and offer ongoing recommendations both for conducting the research and for transferring technology to the military and civilian sectors. SCOPE OF THE STUDY In response to that request, the NRC assembled an independent panel of experts, the Committee for Oversight and Assessment of Blast-Effects and Related Research, under the auspices of the Board on Infrastructure and the Constructed Environment. The committee was asked to perform the following tasks: Assist in the development of a blast-effects research agenda and provide recommendations for activity priorities. This will include assessing the scope and focus of related, on-going research, both in this country and internationally, to assure that efforts are well-integrated; evaluating the capability of the existing research infrastructure to achieve research objectives; and determining the possible need for a national test facility to carry out the research program. Recommend appropriate mechanisms to achieve effective transfer of research results and existing technologies to civilian government agencies and commercial engineering and architectural practice; Develop recommendations for outreach and knowledge dissemination activities to be undertaken by DTRA and other agencies; Review and comment on proposed curriculum or training materials designed to enable civilian engineers and architects to apply the principles of protective design and analysis to civilian buildings and other constructed facilities. Provide a forum to enhance interaction and information sharing among other stakeholder government agencies such as the General Services Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, Department of Transportation, Department of State, etc., and state and local governments. ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY The 14 members of the committee have expertise in blast-effects research and testing, structural analysis and design, architectural and interior design, seismic safety, disaster preparedness and consequence management, emergency medical services, computer-based modeling and assessment techniques, building code development, and knowledge transfer. Biographical information about the committee members is provided in Appendix A. The committee held three meetings—in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in May 1999 and in Washington, D.C., in June and September 1999. The committee chair and two committee members also attended a program review organized by DTRA in August 1999. The committee drew heavily on briefings provided by the sponsor and its contractors, as well as the considerable experience of committee members, to develop the conclusions and recommendations included in this report.

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Blast Mitigation for Structures: 1999 Status Report on the DTRA/TSWG Program ORGANIZATION OF THE REPORT The succeeding chapters in this report are organized to address the committee's charge. Chapter 2 contains a review and assessment of the objectives and scope of the BMSP, the committee's assessment of progress to date, and recommendations for improving the efficiency and value of the program. Chapter 3 is a discussion of program elements and the committee's recommendations for specific activities for the next program cycle. Chapter 4 contains the committee's initial observations and recommendations on a strategy for technology transfer. REFERENCE NRC (National Research Council). 1995. Protecting Buildings from Bomb Damage: Transfer of Blast-Effects Mitigation Technologies from Military to Civilian Applications. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.