Skip to comments.Crumbling edifice of the UN(dirty UN)
Posted on 06/02/2004 9:03:40 AM PDT by TigerLikesRooster
Crumbling edifice of the UN
By Susannah Price
BBC United Nations correspondent
The landmark United Nations headquarters in New York was state of the art when it was built more than 50 years ago.
|Impressive from the outside...|
Behind the scenes, it is a different story. The plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling systems also date back half a century and have gone well beyond their useful life.
The UN is looking for $1.2bn for a complete renovation. UN officials are taking politicians, journalists and diplomats on a so-called "dirty tour" of the worst affected areas to see how bad the situation really is.
"The dirty tour is to show people who are interested in the renovation of the UN complex what it is we are going to do, why we need to do it and the age and condition of the equipment," said John Clarkson, director of the planned overhaul of the UN's ageing infrastructure, known as the Capital Master Plan.
|...less so on the inside|
The tour starts up on the mechanical floor where the heating, ventilation and cooling systems for 10 other floors are based.
Huge pipes snake along the ceiling and floors next to a panel of old dials and meters which would look more at home in a museum. Along the corridor, behind padlocked metal doors with warning signs, there are high voltage transformers, which these days are no longer found inside buildings.
The rooms on the floor directly below the transformers are empty. No one wants to work there because of the potential danger from the electromagnetic rays.
All the old systems need to be replaced
Here Mr Clarkson also shows visitors the crumbling asbestos, once used for insulation but now recognised as a danger to health, which lurks on walls behind 4,000 of the wall-mounted heating and cooling systems in the UN.
"We want to remove all the asbestos and hazardous materials along with the old building systems such as the heating, ventilation, plumbing. Then we will reconstruct it all from scratch," said Mr Clarkson. "The building will function more efficiently at the end."
The Capital Master Plan will entail moving all 3,600 staff out of the UN headquarters into a temporary home to be built nearby with enough room for the Security Council and General Assembly meetings.
The UN complex would be renovated and staff moved back in after five or six years.
The US has said it will lend the UN the money to pay for the work but Washington wants the UN to pay interest. UN officials say this will double the cost of the project and are still looking for other sources of funding.
|We have a place in the basement where we filter the water coming in. When we empty this for maintenance, at the bottom we find crabs, fish and eels|
|Tony Raymond, Mechanical Maintenance Unit|
In another windowless room, Tony Raymond, general foreman for the Mechanical Maintenance Unit, adjusts the temperature in the building through a bank of switches.
He describes how they use water from the East River to cool down the machines with unexpected benefits.
"We have a place in the basement where we filter the water coming in. When we empty this for maintenance, at the bottom we find crabs, fish and eels," he said.
"Some people like to take them home - as long as they don't wind up on my dinner table that's fine by me."
UN officials say the building is not dangerous, but it does not conform to modern safety standards.
Catherine Bertini, the UN's under-secretary general for management, personally experienced the vintage infrastructure when the pipes in her ceiling burst as she was about to welcome the Italian ambassador.
"This is not the safest place in the world to work, although it may be doing some of the most important work in the world," she said.
The US pays 22% of the UN's core budget. I take it they're gonna ask for more? I've got an idea. Why don't they just take it out of their Oil For Food slush fund? Heaven knows, that would cover it.
I gots a great idea! Let's build a bigger, more impressive UN building. In Zimbabwe.
Nope. You wouldn't wanna be in any of those rooms when any o them beams come outta them transfermers.
Nothing a few bulldozers can't fix.
Yup. Downtown Harare. Hey, most of the delegates would feel right at home in a corrupt land ruled by a despot.
"UN officials say the building is not dangerous"
It's the people in it that are dangerous.
I'm thinking that we need big 'ol pyrotechnic show like the one they did out in Vegas for that old hotel (can't remember which one).
You could get rich selling tickets.
Better not go outdoors. Better avoid TV and radio. Stay out of the city. The city has electromagnetic rays everywhere. Better put the UN on the dark side of the moon. Put it underground on the dark side of the moon because the sun and the universe shower the surface of the moon with electromagnetic rays even at night.
We can use what went off in Ryongchon, N. Korea. A kind of an instant neighborhood renewal project.
Build them a new building... in Siberia! And move those sorry bastards out of this country.
"..........systems also date back half a century and have gone well beyond their useful life."
Just like the UN, it has exceeded its useful life by about 49 years.
Those SOBs stole more than enough from the IRAQ Oil-for-Food scam to pay for the renovations & displacement costs.
But no, the U.S. taxpayers will foot almost all of the costs via no-interest, long-term loans.
Rather than spend billion rennovating the building move it to another country. How about Iraq? or Cuba?
I've suggested Port-au-Prince before.
Close enough to keep an eye on, out of our hair, and would add some economic diversity to the Caribbean.
For $1.2B I think we could biuld a bigger and better building somewhere else. Like in Europe, Africa or Asia. Anywhere as long as we get them the hell out of the U.S.
Looks like any office building over 10 years old. Tell 'em to budget for repairs. Syria should be able to help!
Oh, wait, I know....how about the new Palestinian state? They could use the economic boost and that way the UN could oversee the peace process up close and personal.
Have to pick a financial guy.
George Soros is the man. If he can't clean it, no one can.
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