Panama Canal crack fixed

A large crack that threatened the delivery of the Panama Canal expansion and pushed its planned opening back by several months has been fixed, the project’s contractor and Panama Canal Authority (APC) said Monday.

The ACP confirmed that Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC), the Spanish-led consortium responsible for the design and construction of the Third Set of Locks Project, has successfully completed testing of the reinforcements in sill #3 of the Cocolí locks.

The crack first appeared in August in the concrete sill between the lower and middle chamber of the Canal’s expanded Pacific Locks. GUPC later determined that water seepage was the result of insufficient steel reinforcement in the area that was subject to extreme condition testing.

In addition to reinforcing the sill where the crack appeared, GUPC also reinforced 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.

The announcement that the crack has been fixed follows a testing process which consisted of gradually raising the water behind the lock gate to the level where water seepage was first detected.

The testing process was closely monitored by GUPC technical personnel, the designers and the ACP, and later inspected by a team of independent experts, professors and structural engineers from the Technological University of Panama (UTP), all of whom expressed satisfaction with the final results, the ACP said.

GUPC will now proceed to test the electromechanical components of the project.

The ACP says that less than four percent remains to complete the overall Expansion.

The project was initially set to be finished at the end of 2014 to coincide with the 100 year anniversary of the opening of the original Panama Canal, but a dispute between GUPC and ACP over costs pushed the opening to April of this year. The ACP, acting on information from GUPC, initially denied that the crack would delay the opening even further, but as of now inauguration is set for end June.

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