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Architect’s model of completed One World Trade Center

It used to be called the “Freedom Tower,” built by Americans in memory of 9/11, but the building planned to be constructed at Ground Zero has had its name changed to One World Trade Center, and according to a Pennsylvania newspaper’s editorial, should now be stamped “Made in China.”

The editorial board at Harrisburg’s Patriot-News made the charge after learning that the tower’s first 20 stories, designed to be clad in blast-resistant glass in case of future terrorist ambitions, will now be shielded by glass manufactured … in Beijing.

“Despite the fact that three American glass manufacturers, including Pittsburgh-headquartered PPG Industries, spent months working with the tower architects to plan and develop a new kind of glass for floors one through 20, none of these American companies was awarded the contract to make the glass,” writes the Patriot-News. “That ‘honor’ is going to Chinese workers, mainly because they get paid so little.”

Pull back the curtain on the rough-and-tumble environment in which so many of our consumer products are being manufactured with “Poorly Made in China: An Insider’s Account of the Tactics Behind China’s Production Game”

US Glass Magazine reported the contract for the safety-critical glass was awarded to the lowest bidder, a U.S. firm, DCM Solera, which subcontracted procurement of the glass from a Chinese manufacturer.

WABC-TV in New York City reports that PPG Industries actually developed the blast-resistant technology in the glass and had been considered the front-runner to fulfill the $82 million contract.

Vicky Holt, senior vice president of PPG, told the station, “It is absolutely astounding to us that they would take a project with this level of development work that we all invested in prior to it’s completion, and one with this level of visibility, and bid it offshore.”

The Sentinel of Cumberland County, Pa., reports that the Chinese firm can only produce the glass because it holds a license from PPG to use the technology. The paper also issued its own editorial, criticizing New York City’s Port Authority, which is charged with construction of the memorial tower:

“We know, too, that not everyone who died in the horrific fire and collapse of the twin towers was an American – 329 people were foreign nationals, four of them from China,” writes the paper. “But the terrorist attack was made on America soil. The overwhelming majority of casualties – on the planes, in the buildings and among the rescuers – were Americans. When the new trade center is complete, it will have an American address and, like the original, symbolize America.

“Surely American workers should be the ones whose hands and minds supply the wherewithal to build anew on a site that will always be viewed as sanctified by the events of Sept. 11, 2001,” The Sentinel concludes.

A statement released by the Port Authority defended its choice by explaining, “As a public agency, we select contractors … through a competitive bidding process to ensure the best price and quality since the tower is being financed with public money.”

Further, the statement asserted, “We’ve inspected the firm’s manufacturing in China and they’re confident that the glass they will fabricate will meet or exceed safety code standards.”

The safety argument failed to convince Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who is calling on the Port Authority to rescind the glass contract.

“I think that we have seen product after product from China be unreliable,” Schumer told WABC-TV, “and in this instance, we need the most reliable.”

Fire safety expert Glenn Corbett told the station, “This building has to not only meet but exceed every possible safety and security standard out there.”

Subcontracting 20 stories of blast-resistant glass to the Chinese, Corbett says, is a mistake.

“This is the number one terrorist target in the country,” he told WABC-TV. “Why are we setting our standards so low for the minimum possible bid on this?”

“The decision puts a crack in the veneer of what should have been a great American monument,” concludes the Patriot-News editorial. “Now it might as well be stamped ‘Made in China.’”

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