When the twin towers collapsed in New York it created hundreds of thousands of tonnes of rubble and debris, some of it toxic and some of it concealing physical traces of the attack’s thousands of human victims.
What to do with it all became one of the thorniest issues in dealing with the aftermath of 9/11 and gave rise to some of the most unusual consequences of the tragedy.
The vast majority of the debris ended up being taken by barge and truck to a vast landfill site called Fresh Kills on Staten Island. But not all debris ended up at Fresh Kills.
It is estimated that each tower had up to 78,000 tonnes of recyclable steel inside it. After they fell, city officials contracted scrap metal merchants to harvest much of it.
When recycled it could have ended up in anything from cars to kitchen utensils to other buildings and be anywhere in the world. Yet it is known precisely where some steel went.
About 7.5 tonnes went into the construction of a US navy warship. There are many other places where WTC steel ended up in the shape of memorials all over America that incorporate fragments of the buildings’ metal beams, struts and girders.
From Baltimore to Iowa to Maryland, over 200 memorials to the dead of 9/11 have gone up in towns and cities across the nation. In fact WTC steel has gone to places in all 50 US states and six countries abroad as parts of public tributes or museums. It has even been used to commemorate other tragedies.