Human remains that appear to be from World Trade Center victims were found by utility workers in a manhole at the northern edge of the site, a Port Authority official said Thursday.
A Consolidated Edison crew doing excavation of the manhole at street level found the remains, some as big as arm or leg bones, said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site.
Con Ed said it entered the site Wednesday to remove material from two manholes that had been damaged and abandoned after the 2001 collapse of the twin towers.
Crews hauled the excavated materials Wednesday to a work center more than a mile away, as is customary, Con Edison said. On Thursday morning, a contractor working for the Port Authority realized the materials contained remains, Con Edison spokesman Chris Olert said, and the medical examiner’s office was contacted.
Five years after 2,749 people died in the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks, families of about 1,150 victims still do not know whether their loved ones’ remains were recovered.
Thousands of unidentified remains
During the excavation of the 110-story twin towers, which began the evening of the attacks and lasted for nine months, about 20,000 pieces of human remains were found. The DNA in thousands of those pieces, many small enough to slip into a test tube, was too damaged by heat, humidity and time to yield matches in the many tests forensic scientists have tried over the years.
The city told victims’ families last year that it was putting the project of making identifications on hold, possibly for years, until new DNA technology was developed. Last month, the company contracted to work on the bone fragments said advances had been made and new identifications would be forthcoming.
Besides the new remains found by the utility workers, the lab also has recently received hundreds of bone fragments discovered on the roof of a building just south of where the trade center had stood. The building had been condemned since the attacks and was about to be torn down when workers found the bone pieces.
Charles Wolf, whose wife Katherine’s remains were never recovered, said he wants an independent party to take over the remains search. He showed up at the Con Edison site after being contacted by television stations Thursday.
“We’ve got a problem right now,” Wolf said. “Where else are we going to find them next?”