In a state where many past appointments to key state agencies have honored cronyism over competence, I am saddened but not surprised at this pathetic revelation.
I wonder if there were conscientious state engineers who did bring up their epoxy concerns to superiors but were told to shut up.
Documents: State knew of dig ceiling risk
By Casey Ross
Boston Herald Reporter
Thursday, July 26, 2007 – Updated: 09:46 PM EST
Explosive new Big Dig documents show that state engineers knew the dangers of the quick-drying epoxy used in the fatally flawed tunnel section, a finding that directly contradicts a federal investigation into the ceiling collapse that killed Milena Del Valle of Jamaica Plain.
The documents, disclosed yesterday by attorneys for the epoxy supplier, reveal a chain of communication in which state officials were clearly informed of the deficiencies of the glue that failed and caused 26 tons of concrete to crash onto the roadway of the Interstate 90 Seaport connector tunnel on July 10 of last year. Del Valle was a passenger in a car crushed by the falling concrete ceiling.
The documents also show that those engineers called for a more robust standard epoxy, but that either the contractor or another Big Dig firm still failed to use the right product.
That finding is significant because it proves that the dangers of quick-drying epoxy were known on the project, but no one appears to have considered that its use could have been the reason bolts were slipping out of the tunnel ceiling shortly after its installation.
“The state agency responsible for the safety of the I-90 connector knew about the creep characteristics of the epoxy even before the ceiling was installed,” the epoxy supplier, Powers Fasteners, wrote in a statement yesterday.
The firm also questioned why that knowledge was not brought to light earlier. “State officials have had these documents for some time, but it is not clear whether they were disclosed to (federal investigators),” the statement said.
Powers Fasteners called on investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board to amend the finding that concluded Powers contributed to the collapse by failing to adequately explain the deficiencies of its fast-set epoxy.
A spokesman for the NTSB declined to comment last night, as did the Massachusetts Highway Department, whose engineers were named in documents showing the potential problems with fast-set epoxy were discussed prior to ceiling installation.
The documents appear to call into question a central finding of the NTSB investigation: that state officials on the Big Dig were unaware of the tendency of fast-set epoxy to slowly slip out of place over time, and thus were unable to prevent the accident when bolts began to slip loose.
Glue is an effective method for holding up 20 tons of concrete? Imagine how much money could be saved if the right glue is used! Maybe it could used for water proofing tunnels as well. Miracle glue to the rescue!
… in similar applications elsewhere. It may be counterintuitive, but the engineering is sound.
Almost 1,000 years ago they said that Notre Dame Cathederal would collaps because walls with so much glass and so little stone couldn’t possible hold up the roof. The NTSB even said so… that had the correct epoxy been used there likely wouldn’t have been a problem.
As to documents saying they knew about the epoxy,… this is kind of obvious. The manufacturer had two epoxy formulas, one that was appropriate for the job and one that wasn’t. Just recieving the specifications would tell you that much.
I find it interesting that earlier press stories had the manufacturer claiming that they never delivered the ‘wrong’ formula epoxy. Funny how it somehow found its way onto the job site without having been delivered then, huh?
I find it interesting that earlier press stories had the manufacturer claiming that they never delivered the ‘wrong’ formula epoxy.
…what the manufacturer may be saying is that they delivered the product that had been ordered. Apparently, the manufacturer suggested a different product, but the contractors wanted the one that was ordered.
… and it just reflects on how easy it is for the press to get it wrong.
If Powers Co. had this memo/letter earlier then why did they take the 5th when talking to NTSB?
NTSB was pretty clear that this “creep” issue was largly unknown in the highway construction world.
But this letter may hurt Coakley’s $$ bargaining position.
…the documents speak for themselves.
If Powers or its representatives had answered any questions regarding the documents, they probably would have abrogated any 5th amendment rights that they might have had downstream.
In other words, answer one question, and you have to answer all of them.