The sill reinforcements in the new locks of the Panama Canal have been completed this week, bringing the Panama Canal Expansion one step closer to inauguration, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) informed.
The so-called Cocoli’s locks sprung a leak in August 2015, and the project contractor Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) was working ever since to assess the leak and reinforce the structure.
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 GUPC’s findings.
GUPC promised to complete the repairs by end of January and the work seems to be on track.
The filling of the Pacific-facing Cocoli Locks has already begun, and the filling of the Atlantic-facing Agua Clara Locks began on Thursday, February 4.
As informed by ACP, once the locks are filled, the sills will undergo a rigorous testing process to ensure their integrity and proper function.
“Every day, we move closer to completion,” said Panama Canal Administrator and CEO, Jorge L. Quijano. “But the key for us, as it has always been, is to do so in a way that maintains the highest standards are met, ensuring Canal operations for the next 101 years and more.”
The filling of the locks will now be followed by testing of locks reinforcements in February, followed by testing a chartered vessel in the Atlantic locks in April.
Less than four percent remains to complete the Panama Canal Expansion Program, which is expected to be inaugurated in the second quarter of 2016.
The expanded canal was last scheduled to open in April, however the date was pushed due to repairs.