GUPC: Weak Steel Reinforcement Caused Panama Canal Leak

The seepage found in the concrete sill between the lower and middle chamber of the Panama Canal’s expanded Pacific Locks was the result of insufficient steel reinforcement in the area which was subjected to stress from extreme condition testing, according to Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC), the contractor responsible for the design and construction of the third set of locks.

In a report sent to the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), GUPC stated that in addition to reinforcing the sill that presented the issue, they would also reinforce the first and second sill in the Cocoli Locks and the first three sills in the Atlantic-facing Agua Clara Locks as a preventative measure, though these sills have not presented any issue.

GUPC also verbally indicated to the ACP that the completion date for the expansion project of the Panama Canal will remain April 2016, as planned.  However, the ACP says it is awaiting formal confirmation from GUPC, in the form of a report which should also include the root cause of the detected filtrations.

According to the ACP, the contract signed with GUPC’s clearly states that the contractor is responsible for all corrections that may be required. The contractor has an obligation to ensure the long-term performance on all aspects of the construction of the locks and to complete the expansion project following the quality standards established in the contract, the ACP says.

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