By Joan Murray

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As work winds down at the Surfside condo collapse pile, the investigation into how and why it happened is heating up.

“What happened here was a clear wake-up call,” said Surfside commissioner Eliana Salzhauer.

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Salzhauer wrote a letter urging the town board in August to make significant building changes.

“Please move the 40-year recertification requirement to 30 years and add the requirement of geotechnical subterranean testing and inspections. This would be for all multistory, multifamily, commercial apartment condo buildings in Surfside, not just on the beach. Forty years is too long for buildings in this climate,” she wrote.

“Our role is to protect residents and this change will do that,” she said.

Champlain Towers South was in the middle of a 40-year recertification requirement when it collapsed.

But in 2018, an engineering report found major structural damage to a concrete slab below the pool deck and uncovered cracking of concrete columns, beams, and walls in the parking garage.

“It’s clear a private homeowner is responsible for taking care of their property, “ Salzhauer said.

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She said that doesn’t absolve town officials at the time from not doing more when they became aware of the problems.

“I think whoever is responsible needs to be held accountable,” she said

The national institute of standards and technology or NIST, a federal agency has been allowed to collect samples at the rubble pile, but the town structural engineer cannot.

“They have more leverage than I do I guess,” said Allyn Kilsheimer.

Kilsheimer has taken samples from the duplicate Champlain North Towers and based on what he’s found so far, he doesn’t believe residents there are in danger.

“So far everything tested has been good. The one thing I can’t do is below the soil.
And that is why it’s important for me to get to the south tower, so I can tell what may be going on at the north,” he said.

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Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement Thursday, “The collapsed scene and all related materials are under active investigation and when
it is safe for others to gain access they will be permitted.”