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Charles Schumer asks feds to review WTC security

Sen. Charles Schumer called for security improvements at

Sen. Charles Schumer called for security improvements at the 1 World Trade Center site on Sunday, March 30, 2014. Credit: Charles Eckert

Federal authorities should investigate security at Freedom Tower and its 16-acre site after recent breaches at One World Trade Center, the nation's No. 1 terrorist target, Sen. Charles Schumer said Sunday.

During a news conference at Ground Zero, Schumer said he holds the Port Authority responsible for the security lapses inside One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the U.S.

"The buck stops at the PA," said Schumer (D-N.Y.), who in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security asked the agency to audit security at the construction site and the Freedom Tower. He said a report should be complete in a month.

"Lapses in security are unacceptable and further investigation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security must be conducted to examine whether this is a systemic problem," Schumer said in the letter.

Last week, top security official David Velazquez of the Durst Organization, which is responsible for security inside the Freedom Tower, resigned.

The move came after a 16-year-old from New Jersey sneaked to the tower's top floor. Several days later, a security guard was caught on camera sleeping, and months earlier, three extreme skydivers parachuted from the tower.

"This is a historic landmark being used as a personal playground," said Schumer, who added the trespassers entered through the same "hole in a fence. No one patched up the hole. What's going on here?"

Steve Coleman, Port Authority spokesman, said the 16-year-old slipped through a gap between a fence and a gate. He said the skydivers' entry point has not been determined.

"The recent security lapses at the World Trade Center construction site are unacceptable, and the Port Authority and the Durst Organization have taken significant steps to address them," according to a Port Authority statement. Coleman would not specify the new measures.

The statement also said Homeland Security "toured the site on December 6, 2013 and, in light of recent security breaches, will be invited back for an additional tour."

Schumer said Homeland Security should ensure the Port Authority is doing everything it can to prevent further breaches, adding that tens of millions of dollars have been spent to secure the site.

"I feel especially responsible" because he supported federal funding for site security, Schumer said. "We have to make sure that the money is being spent well."

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