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Govt denies that steel used at new dock breaks building code

One construction industry source claimed that Government was forced to use non-galvanised steel on the project after an administrative oversight meant that galvanised steel could not be brought in on time. Government was in a rush to get the upgrades completed before the arrival of the mega-cruiseship

Breakaway earlier this month and, according to the source, was able to obtain non-galvanised steel more quickly — even though non-galvanised steel broke construction codes.

The Ministry has now denied that claim, stating that the reason for not using galvanised steel was “because it was not necessary”. However, a spokesman did acknowledge that galvanised steel would have “increased costs and time”.“The construction code does not require galvanised reinforcement, the residential building code does and this is not a residential building,” yesterday’s statement said.

“There was no administrative oversight, galvanised reinforcement was never specified, it was suggested locally and was not adopted for the above clear reasons,” the spokesman said.

Another construction expert also condemned Government’s decision.

Retired surveyor Miles Outerbridge of Woodbourne Associates said he raised concerns about non-galvanised steel with Public Works Minister Trevor Moniz

“He told me he had been advised that, if you use good concrete you don’t need to galvanise the rod,” Mr Outerbridge said.

“He was adamant. I disagreed. But what do I know, I’ve only got 60 years’ experience.

“What the galvanising does is put a protective coating on the iron so it doesn’t get attacked by salt, and rust. All concrete is porous — it absorbs water. And if the water it’s absorbing is salt water that precipitates rusting. Even if you galvanise it, it would rust, but it protects it for a number of years. You’re buying time and it’s a small price to pay.

“All of this was because of the time frame constraints they had, they didn’t want to take the extra weeks it would take to get the galvanised rods. And in the end it wasn’t completed so what’s the rush?”

The Ministry spokesman also claimed that the use of non-galvanised steel did not break construction regulations — even though it did admit last month that rules stipulate that galvanised steel must be used.

“The Government is not just ignoring a requirement, we have properly engineered the solution and indeed other structures have been constructed without galvanised reinforcement in the past in Bermuda.

But in a statement last month, the Ministry confirmed that “the construction code specifies galvanised rebar”.

The statement said in part: “The use of galvanised rebar is the simplest approach when applied across the board and when modern techniques to limit corrosion are not employed.This is why quite reasonably it may be specified in the building code.”

Last night Shadow Pubic Works Minister Derrick Burgess insisted that the Ministry was forced to use non-galvanised steel because of an administrative error. He insisted the material did breach construction regulations.

“They went to the local suppliers late and wanted to order the regular, galvanised rod but it’s eight weeks delivery time and so they took the black [non-galvanised] instead,” Mr Burgess said.

“What I find astonishing is that Planning has been very quiet on it and even the environmentalists have been very quiet. The Planning code says ‘you shall use galvanised’ and when you use ‘shall’ there’s no ‘maybe’ — it’s ‘shall’.

“They are using black rod against the advice of all the construction experts in Bermuda. You cannot use ungalvanised rod in any buildings in Bermuda, and particularly in our environment because of the salt content. And to use it in the water is outrageous.”

Steel concern: Heritage Wharf

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Published May 29, 2013 at 3:09 pm (Updated May 29, 2013 at 3:09 pm)

Govt denies that steel used at new dock breaks building code

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