Munters Corporation
MCS Services

Water Damage Drying Saves Pentagon $40 Million in Recovery Costs

Munters Moisture Control Services played a key role in an all out effort to return the Pentagon to full use after the September 11th terrorist attack that killed more than 125 military and government workers while ripping a cavernous hole in the side of the Washington, DC building.

Specialists in reversing the effects of water damage, Munters used more than 600 pieces of drying equipment distributing 1.5 million cubic feet of dry air each minute through more than a mile of duct work combined in a massive system to dry out the building. The equipment needed to handle the project was shipped from many of the company's 30 North American offices. Munters, the world's largest water damage recovery company, said that the Pentagon dry out effort was the largest single-building project in the company's history.

Pentagon Story Continues Below Photo Essay...

Photo Essay:
Munters pre shipped equipment so work could begin the same day it was authorized.
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The impact and explosion that occurred when terrorists crashed a hijacked airliner into the side of the building devastated a significant area on five floors of the world renowned US military headquarters. However, water damage--resulting from fire hoses, automatically activated sprinklers systems, and shattered water lines-- affected nearly 2.5 million square feet of space adjacent to the crash area that otherwise would have been left intact!

"Millions of gallons of water flowed throughout the building after the attack," said Joe Kelley, Munters district manager in the Washington DC area. In some places water was 18 inches deep on the floors."

"Munters dried an area on five levels greater than 33 football fields, all of which was damaged by the water alone," said Kelley. Making a conservative estimate, Kelley believes that Munters will save the Pentagon more than $40 million dollars in reconstruction expense. "Beyond the money saved, drying allowed this important space to be back in use months earlier."

Pentagon managers described the building as composed of five "wedges." Each wedge has a corner of the building at its center. The attack occurred between "Wedge 1" and "Wedge 2" with fire and water damage occurring on both sides of the crash site.

"At the time of the attack," said Kelley, " Wedge 1 was nearing completion of a comprehensive, $258 million renovation project. As a result, much of the space was unoccupied. If the terrorists had flown into another wedge, or the attack had occurred just a few weeks later, a much higher number of deaths could have resulted."

Kelley says that the Pentagon is constructed as five buildings in, concentric rings. On the ground level, the exterior buildings share a common floor. On upper floors they rise as separate towers. When the airliner hit near ground level, it penetrated the exterior wall and then slid to the middle of the building. The devastated area was approximately "v" shaped, with greater destruction occurring on the outer areas.

"Of course, the area in "Wedge 1 and 2" that took the direct hit was completely destroyed," said Kelley. "All that can be done there is to demolish and rebuild. "Wedge 2" was given a lower priority by the Pentagon, as it was scheduled to be gutted in a future renovation and asbestos removal project. But in the "Wedge 1" areas that remain structurally sound to just to the south of the devastation, a substantial loss was prevented by drying with our Munters' desiccant dehumidification system.

Munters offered its services immediately after the disaster. However, Pentagon building managers could not respond because the FBI and then the military services had taken command of the building, giving first priority to national security issues. After security issues were addressed, Munters was invited by John Kirlin Construction Company, a subcontractor working with AMEC Construction on the Pentagon restoration to tour the building and propose restoration procedures.

"Initially, we found varying conditions throughout Wedge 1," recalls Kelley. "But even after extensive water damage, and the delays caused by the unprecedented security procedures, we felt that Munters desiccant drying could reduce reconstruction time significantly and save the majority of these newly remodeled areas."

In areas furthest from the blast, the "C" zones, Kelley found some water damage and minor mold development. In "B" zones, water damage was very heavy and mold growth had become substantial. In the "A" zones, nearest the crash site, the water damage was devastating and mold was horrendous. There, mold growth was well up the walls and in some cases 2 inches thick on the carpet!

"We proposed that "C" zones should be addressed without further delay," said Kelley. "We knew after a simple walk through that we could save millions in new construction and prevent mold from becoming a problem. We could also have the areas dry enough for use in less than one week."

Kelley also felt that drying the "B" zone could also provide great benefit, saving the Pentagon both time and money as it returned the areas to use, but first priority should be given to "C" zones.

"By drying the "B" zones we proposed to save at least 60% of the sheet rock, virtually all of the new structural and mechanical materials, as well as eliminate future mold and mildew growth," said Kelley. "It was to be a salvage operation, but the advantages weighed heavily in favor of drying over ripping it all out."

"After our presentation," said Rob Sullivan, Munters Northeast Operations Manager," we immediately mobilized equipment stationed around the country. It was no time to pull punches.

The country was in a crisis. If we got the contract, we wanted no delays." The next day Pentagon managers authorized Kelley to start on the "C" and "B" zones located south of the impact in the newly renovated area.

"Pentagon officials were most impressed when Munters equipment began arriving at the Pentagon just hours later," said Sullivan. "We had electrical generators and Munters dryers at the site the same day and began assembling our drying system immediately."

"The Munters team was very effective," said David Rosner, Project Manager John J. Kirlin, Inc. Their equipment began showing up within hours. With all they had to do, they never were stressed or overwhelmed, and it was a big job! They methodically set up and acted swiftly to new requests and changes. The company proved very easy to work with!"

The system had three components: dehumidifiers, air movers and air scrubbers. The dehumidifiers were hoisted onto the damaged floors through bomb resistant windows specially removed to expedite the process. Once on the floors, the dehumidifiers drew in humid outside air, dried it to an extremely dry condition, and pumped the air into the damaged areas. Air movers and network of flexible duct distributed the air to all parts of the "C" and "B" areas. Simultaneously, the air scrubbers filtered the air for dust and mold spores kicked up by restoration activities.

Initially, Kelley expected only to work in the "C "and "B" zones, but several days into the project, things changed.

"When we were awarded the "C" and "B" phases of the project, it seemed unlikely that we would get the opportunity to dry "A" zones. A decision had been made to put front loaders on each floor and bulldoze everything inside. Mold growth was so advanced we had to wear respirators to go in and look around."

However, pleased with the substantial progress being made in the "C" and "B" zones, officials modified their plans and awarded Munters the "A" zones to dry, as well.

"After appropriate measures were taken to deal with the environment in the "A", Zone, we were asked to begin the drying process. As a result, the Pentagon will save millions of dollars in new structural materials, plus electrical and mechanical equipment throughout the "A" zones," said Kelley.