(WASHINGTON, DC) —Yesterday, Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) introduced H.R. 4143, the National Construction Safety Team (NCST) Enhancements Act. The NCST Enhancements Act updates a previously enacted law to expand the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) authority to investigate failures of structures other than buildings to inform engineering standards and codes. NIST will be able to use this authority to investigate major failures of structures that have a significant role in the safety and resilience of U.S. communities, including levees, dikes, and dams.
“This bill couldn’t come at a more important time,” said Ranking Member Lofgren. “Historic flooding in California this spring left communities across the state vulnerable. In my district this March, the Pajaro River’s levee failed, forcing 1,500 people to evacuate. There currently is no agency authorized to investigate failures of general infrastructure--like the Pajaro River Levee--in order to improve the engineering standards used to design and maintain them. This bill will expand existing law to include these types of structures. By capitalizing on the state-of-the-art capabilities of NIST’s experts, we can better understand the causes of and solutions to destructive and life-threatening events like the Pajaro Levee failure to make sure they don’t happen again. As the climate crisis continues to put massive strains on existing infrastructure, this commonsense bill is more critical than ever. I thank Chairman Lucas for joining me to introduce this bill.”
“NIST has a strong track record of investigating structural failures like building collapses so we can improve safety standards and prevent future tragedies, said Chairman Lucas. “By empowering them to expand their investigations to include other structural failures we can help protect more lives and property from destruction. This bill does so in a way that is efficient and not duplicative and I’m proud to join Ranking Member Lofgren as a cosponsor.”
Signed into law in the aftermath of the September 11 Attacks, The National Construction Safety Team (NCST) Act authorizes NIST to dispatch experts to investigate major building disasters. These authorities are modeled after those of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for investigating transportation accidents. NCST investigations are aimed to inform engineering standards and codes to prevent future failures from occurring. NIST works closely with other federal agencies, as well as state and local governments, to ensure their investigations do not interfere with other activities.
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