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21 Arrested for Falsifying Concrete Tests

Thursday, May 25, 2017

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An anti-corruption agency in Hong Kong arrested 21 people Tuesday (May 23) in relation to the alleged falsification of concrete tests on the massive Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption announced the arrests Wednesday, noting that they involved two senior executives and 19 staff members with a contractor working on the infrastructure megaproject.

ICAC did not identify the contractor in the announcement, and issued a subsequent clarification noting that no government officials were accused of any wrongdoing. The South China Morning Post identified the contractor as Jacobs China, operating under the U.S.-based Jacobs Engineering Group, which does have contracts related to the project. Jacobs did not immediately respond to a request Wednesday for confirmation on the matter.

HKZM bridge construction
© iStock.com / Only5

Hong Kong officials arrested 21 employees of a contractor on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge megaproject for allegedly falsifying concrete tests.

According to ICAC, the contractor in question was tasked with performing compression tests on samples of concrete being used on the HKZM project, which involves an 18.3-mile bridge and a 4-mile stretch of tunnel running 131 feet below the Pearl River Delta.

The Allegations

The commission alleges that staff at the testing lab may have adjusted the times listed for when testing took place to cover up when testing was done outside of the prescribed timeframe. The investigation into the testing revealed, ICAC says, that staff may also have replaced samples with high-strength concrete cubes or a metal calibration cylinder, to create the appearance that sample cubes had been tested though they had not.

ICAC says the two senior technicians certified the falsified reports, and “might have corruptly connived at the submission of the false reports to the CEDD,” the Hong Kong government’s Civil Engineering and Development Department.

HKZM bridge
Wing1990hk, CC-BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The HKZM project involves an 18.3-mile bridge and a 4-mile stretch of tunnel running 131 feet below the Pearl River Delta.

According to ICAC, all of those arrested are out on bail.

According to the Morning Post, government officials said follow-up testing on concrete used in the project has shown nothing unusual, and more testing will be performed in the coming weeks. A press conference is scheduled for Thursday to provide further information.

Engineers have noted that if serious concerns are found during testing, it could, in a worst-case scenario, mean the replacement of a large portion of the bridge.

Past Project Issues

The HKZM project has been ongoing since 2011, and the cost has repeatedly risen during construction. Current estimates have the Hong Kong section of the project at more than HK$117 billion (about $15 billion). In addition to Hong Kong, sections of the bridge are in mainland China and Macao.

Earlier this year, authorities disclosed that in 2014, two seawalls that were built as part of the project collapsed and had to be rebuilt. The Morning Post reports that 10 workers have died during the project’s construction, and more than 600 have been injured.

   

Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Bridges; concrete; Criminal acts; Ethics; Quality Control; Quality control; Testing + Evaluation

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