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As debris removal from the fallen World Trade Center towers passed the 1 million-ton mark, officials Thursday dismissed any fears that Hudson River water was leaking through a retaining wall that surrounds the 16-acre site.
``The wall is sound. There are no significant cracks in the wall and no leaks of river water,'' Matthew Monahan, spokesman for the city's Department of Design and Construction, told Associate Press writer Richard Pyle yesterday.
Monahan explained that heavy rain within the past week had caused some water to accumulate in an area inside the ``bathtub,'' as the wall is informally known, but he said this posed no threat to excavation operations.
The affected area is below the former site of the Marriott World Trade Center Hotel, which stood between the twin towers and also was destroyed in the Sept. 11 attack.
The trade center had used huge pumps to prevent underground water from affecting the wall, he said. While these pumps are no longer operative, engineers are reinforcing the exposed wall with 800 cables and steel rods to provide extra stability.
Monahan said the millionth ton of debris was lifted from the site on Wednesday nearly four months since round-the-clock recovery operations began. The debris is trucked and barged to a reopened municipal dump on Staten Island, where it is combed for any human remains and potential criminal evidence.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency estimated the terrorist attack left 1.2 million tons of debris in lower Manhattan. The clearing effort, now concentrating on the subterranean levels of the trade center complex, is expected to continue into early or mid-summer.
The relentless operations recently laid bare the top section of the so-called bathtub, a reinforced concrete slurry wall, 3 feet thick and 65 feet deep, which protected the trade center complex from underground seepage and the nearby river.
Earlier yesterday, a published report quoted workers at the site as saying river water had been ``trickling through'' the wall since last weekend and machine operators had been told not to work too close to the wall ``until the cracks are fixed.''
Monahan told The Associated Press that the report appeared to confuse or condense information about the status of the bathtub. He said it was not leaking river water and the only seepage is what predated Sept. 11.