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Dome supplier faces Montreal compensation battle

MILLENNIUM DOME fabric supplier Birdair this week faces multi-million pound compensation claims following the collapse of the new fabric roof over Montreal's Olympic Stadium.

It is thought the roof was being held together by temporary clips after delays with roofing fabric installation meant work had to be put on hold until the spring.

Five people suffered minor injuries when a 350m2 panel failed under snow and melt water loading, dumping tonnes of slush on workers setting up a car show below. The show was cancelled, as was a boat show due next month, and claims from show organisers alone are expected to top £10M.

It has also emerged that the roof installation contractor, Danny's Construction, had been thrown off site in October by Birdair at an hour's notice, following rows at delays and cost over-runs. Danny's - which also worked on the Dome - is suing Birdair for £2.5M.

Lawyers for Danny's alleged last week that Birdair had delayed the work after diverting fabric meant for Montreal to another project.

The fabric that failed is the same Teflon-coated glass fibre material that Birdair supplied to the Millennium Dome.

Cladding at Greenwich was at a peak last summer, but the New Millennium Experience Company this week said it was unlikely that fabric intended for Montreal had finished up on the Dome. It also denied that the Montreal accident cast any doubts on the long-term safety of the Dome.

'The Dome roof is a very different shape to the Montreal Stadium roof and has no valleys into which snow might drift,' a spokesman insisted 'And Greenwich gets far less snow than Montreal,' he added.

Dome structural engineer Buro Happold took a number of measures to avoid melt water ponding, which has brought down other earlier fabric structures. Circumferential cables, forming part of the supporting cable net, are designed to avoid hard points pushing up beneath the fabric.

Birdair is said to have claimed the Montreal roof could take up to 900mm of snow. Witnesses report that the area which failed began to bulge as the snow then on the roof began to melt, and that stadium officials had set up safety barriers below and sent men onto the roof to clear the accumulating slush.

Olympic Installation Board officials said the roof had still not been officially handed over and the cost of repairs would have be met by Birdair and its insurers.

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